13 Aug How to Get the Best Results from Your Contractors
Under the new realities of today’s market, contractors are making up a growing proportion of the workforce, and employers are facing the mounting challenge of ensuring these workers continue to meet expectations and deliver excellent results for the duration of their engagement.
Contractors who feel isolated from (or less important than) the rest of the team are often less motivated, which can impact their job satisfaction, productivity and quality of work. Most employers are aware of the rudimentary strategies for integrating contractors to the organisational culture, such as having a consistent onboarding process, sharing the company values and maintaining frequent communication. However, cultivating the genuine sense of ownership, inclusion and purpose that will get the most from your workforce is more complex than that.
So, what can you do to maximise the productivity and performance of your contractors?
Prioritise Cultural Fit When Hiring Contractors
Getting the most out of your contractors begins with hiring the right people to start with. This can help to improve collaboration, reduce costs and minimise onboarding and training time, particularly for organisations looking to cultivate a pool of contractors they work with on a regular basis. Contract workers who are a good cultural fit tend to have a more positive experience, work better with the rest of the team and are often more motivated.
When recruiting contractors for your organisation, look for people with the right skills and attitude, who understand your company values. There are a number of ways to determine fit during the hiring process, including video Q&As, online assessments, behavioural interviews, reference checking, arranging for the contractor to meet with the existing team and getting advice on the person’s fit from your recruitment consultant.
Leverage the Right Tools and Technology to Support the Culture
No matter where your contractors are based, having the right tools and technology available is vital for enabling leaders to speak directly with the team, and team members with each other. Not only can it support communication and connectivity, but it can help people feel heard and understood – an important aspect of making contract workers feel like they are really “part of the team.”
For example, employee survey platforms such as 15Five and Culture Amp give leaders instant feedback about the employee experience, whilst collaboration tools such as Asana, Microsoft Teams and Zoom help people work together, track and manage their tasks, share ideas, distribute up-to-the-minute information and analyse data in real time.
Where possible, it can be beneficial to give everyone in the team access to at least some of the same tools, regardless of whether they are contract or permanent. This helps create an even playing field and ensures everyone has the opportunity to interact and contribute to the business.
Err on the Side of Inclusion
Inclusivity is a vital element of keeping contractors motivated and engaged. Whenever possible, avoid things that separate contractors from permanent employees or make them feel less important, such as different email signatures or benefits. Obviously, there may be some information and privileges that cannot extend to contract workers, but making an effort to include them as much as you can will have a big impact on their sense of belonging.
Consider inviting them to whole-team meetings, bringing them to team events, keeping them informed about any new projects or procedures and forwarding them company updates and newsletters. Take the time to have regular catch-ups and ask for feedback to show that you value their input. Your recruitment agency will also check in regularly with both you and the contractor to obtain and share impartial feedback to improve your working relationship.
It’s a good idea to have strong team-building practices in place, which can help contractors and permanent employees connect on a more personal level and build relationships – a particularly valuable activity for those who will be working closely together on projects over an extended period. Aim for consistent, low-key activities that allow everyone to be included, such as:
- Regular team lunches or drinks
- Virtual “pub quizzes” held over video
- Team competitions and recognition
- Informal meetings to encourage idea sharing
Build Teams that Allow People to Play to Their Strengths
To ensure contractors and permanent employees can work together harmoniously, it’s helpful to create an environment that allows everyone to use their strengths and add value to the organisation. After all, contractors are typically brought on to supply a specific skill set, and many of them choose to contract because they want to expose themselves to new projects and environments (in addition to maximising their earning potential). This means you have an opportunity to leverage their expertise to your advantage.
Where circumstances allow, try to be strategic about assembling project teams, selecting complementary skills sets from across the permanent and contract workforce and clearly allocating responsibilities to minimise conflict. This will not only ensure you have the best possible talent to drive the project, but will reinforce your culture by showing that you value the unique qualities and perspectives that different team members bring.
Managers have an important part to play in this – they should lead by example in encouraging everyone to recognise contractors as complementary to the team, as well as taking on the majority share of the onboarding and support necessary to bring them up to speed.
It’s important to remember that each contractor is likely to experience a workplace differently, and there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for getting the best from these workers. But by actively identifying ways to make contractors feel valued and included in your team, you can help to bring out the full potential of your workforce whilst driving successes internally.
If you’re looking to add skilled IT contractors to your team, contact the Tech recruitment specialists at Emanate Technology to find out about the high-calibre talent we place across Brisbane and Canberra.