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How to get the most out of contract workers
Responding to the fluctuating demands of the market by engaging contract workers is a strategic way to remain agile in today’s ever-changing business environment. Contractors can provide enormous benefit to your company, but non-permanent hires also present challenges in management. Here are our top tips for motivating contractors:
Understand their motivations
People go into contracting for a number of different reasons. There is a commonly held myth that contractors are unable to get work elsewhere, but it is important to remember that this idea is just that—a myth. Most contractors are highly motivated, highly skilled workers.
Asking contractors directly why they choose contracting over permanent work will help you ascertain their motivations: it could be the higher rate available for specialists, the development of new skills, the opportunity to work at specific companies or in specific roles, or the flexibility possible in non-permanent roles.
Assuming they give you a strong answer, it’s important you honour their response to ensure they are happy. If they tell you they enjoy contracting because of the flexibility it offers, for example, then providing them with options around working hours will help them stay motivated.
Create and observe clear guidelines
Statement of Work (SOW) management is often a forgotten imperative that should be a higher priority with hiring contractors—it helps them gain a clear context and scope for their services. This should be part of the induction, however, you will also need to provide feedback on their work and even re-evaluate the SOW when necessary, especially if the scope or requirements of the job often changes to suit the particular skills of a contractor.
Ensuring continued communication around expectations and responsibilities assists with keeping the contractor in the loop and feeling satisfied in their role. Making sure you as a manager also stick to those guidelines (unless otherwise discussed) is key to giving a contractor autonomy.
Contextualise the work
Explain to contract workers the overall aims and goals to which your team is working. Since they haven’t got deep roots in your team, they don’t have the same shortcuts to understanding the particular task as part of a larger scheme as permanent employees do.
According to Harvard Business Review, this means you must take the extra time to discuss what the aim is and how it connects to the bigger picture. And it works both ways, too: contractors often have a broad perspective gained from other workplaces and similar tasks that they can feed in to your plans, but only if you let them in on those plans.
Build your relationship
The foundation of a strong relationship is paying your contractors at or above market rate. For many contractors, the high rate of pay possible is one of the key reasons to pursue it as a career choice, so you won’t be able to get the most out of them if they are underpaid. A strong offer for a contractor’s day rate proves that you respect their talents and are not trying to lowball them.
It’s also important not to micromanage—many contractors favour the autonomy of the contracting life and will not respond well to constant check-ins. Instead, give them the tools they require to dive in and do their best work, and opt instead for weekly one-on-one meetings unless they would prefer otherwise.
Make them part of the team
It’s imperative that you eliminate any barriers that prevent a contractor from feeling like part of the team. Small distinctions like not being given a company email address, not receiving invites to company-wide events or missing out on the corporate benefits package can make a contractor feel like they don’t really belong - and this could cause them to become disengaged.
With this outlook, you can become an employer of choice for contractors - and they will want to come back and work for you, which will pay dividends when it next comes time to hire a contractor.
Contact Michael Page today for more advice on finding the best contractors.
Getting the most out of contract workers can boost productivity. Remember to follow a few simple steps:
- Ask why they got into contracting, and honour their answer
- Have a clear statement of work and provide an induction on the project/company
- Build a relationship that makes you their employer of choice