Three best practices for engaging contingent workers

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A contingent workforce can be a game-changer for companies. The accelerated pace of change requires that companies adapt quickly, and by hiring temporary, contract or seasonal workers, companies of all sizes can be more agile and entrepreneurial. They can tap into a diverse set of talent without the overhead of full-time employment. However, if you are thinking about hiring contingent workers, or you already have them in your ranks, there are challenges you need to be aware of that might jeopardize the productivity of your gig workforce—and your ROI.

Multiple studies have shown a direct correlation between employee engagement and business performance. When workers are not engaged, a lack of motivation may keep them from doing their best work. An employee who isn’t engaged couldn’t be expected to be a strong ambassador of company culture, which could mean lost opportunity in a variety of pockets. Disengagement is especially costly if you are hiring contingent workers for customer-facing roles.

Besides negatively affecting the bottom line, low engagement also triggers high turnover and increases the associated costs of finding and training new talent.

The good news

By taking proactive steps to engage contingent workers early and often, you can leverage the flexibility of skill sets and talents and get the highest productivity possible.

Here are three key best practices that can help keep non full-time workers engaged in your company’s operations and purpose:

  1. Ensure effective onboarding
  2. Create meaningful connections with the team
  3. Commit to a feedback loop

Effective onboarding

Onboarding is a critical stage in every worker’s journey. At this stage, first impressions about the company are formed and a positive experience can make a huge difference in the level of engagement.

What does a great onboarding experience look like for a contingent worker?

  • Using communication tools they are already using, like texting, rather than having to use multiple new systems and software to complete paperwork
  • Receiving role-based and personalized guidance that is highly relevant to their work
  • Getting timely contextual help with the exact task they are trying to accomplish

What does a great onboarding program look like for the employer?

  • It's a well-structured process: a systematic, repeatable way of delivering effective onboarding experiences
  • It allows the employer to leverage reusable onboarding templates and a searchable library of onboarding workflows to increase efficiency across a large volume of employees
  • It has onboarding activities that are streamlined to meet all administrative needs and reduce ramp-up period

Fortunately, technology makes it possible to have the best of both worlds when it comes to onboarding: the workers get personalized guidance, feel cared for and engaged, while employers get a repeatable, systematic and scalable onboarding solution.

Connection with the team

Companies always make sure the contingent worker has all the information and tool access they need to do their work. However, going only as far as to get your employees operational can be a costly mistake. To reach full productivity and perform at their best, workers need to go beyond core understanding of projects, context and expectations. They need to build connections with team members and their manager.

If you go the extra mile to help gig workers assimilate into the team and establish connections with relevant team members, you could reap large benefits in the form of business results.

Feedback loop

For the gig worker, part of what makes their work experience an enjoyable and productive one is the opportunity to provide feedback. For any company, there is strategic value in checking in at key moments throughout the worker’s journey, gauging their satisfaction and uncovering opportunities for improvement. This is especially important in relation to workflows that are used repeatedly.

By leveraging genuine, contextual feedback from contingent workers you can clearly see which activities are working and which ones aren’t, address any issues and constantly optimize the process.

Key takeaways

For most companies, hiring contingent workers opens up a rich pool of talent, reduces overhead and creates a lot of flexibility. However, the new generation of employees entering the workforce have lower tolerance for poor on-the-job experience. Dissatisfaction translates to low engagement, and can certainly have a negative effect on the bottom line.

To get maximum return when hiring contingent workers, companies need to focus on engagement from the very start. Highly effective onboarding, meaningful connections with the team and continuous process improvement informed by feedback are the keys to an all-win relationship between the company and its contingent workforce.

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