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How to keep contingent workers from jumping ship

Jul 15, 2021

Wendy Kennah
Wendy Kennah

As the pandemic begins to slowly recede and workers are rethinking their career choices, SIA reports there's been a dramatic increase in employee resignations, dubbing the trend as the 'Great Resignation' period. And it's one that shows an indication of lasting well into the fall. 

Yet, when almost half of the U.S. workforce is comprised of contingent workers, organizations can leverage the niche skills of temporary talent to complete projects, fill skills gaps and ensure work gets done.  However, how employers handle the arrangement will determine whether talent will agree to any extensions or leave for a more attractive offer at any time. 

So, how do you keep contingent talent from jumping ship or declining a contract extension? Here are some tips to consider to keep talent (coming back).

Involve Human Resources with Procurement

It's common for organizations to manage contingent workers on a more tactical level --through procurement departments rather than Human Resources-- resulting in having very few consistent recruitment strategies in place. A recent study by Deloitte reports that HR is not involved in sourcing 39 per cent or 35 per cent of hiring decisions for contingent workers. This data suggests that these types of workers aren't being screened using the same assessment factors as full-time employees, and therefore, can lack the soft skills or cultural fit factors that a traditional HR talent acquisition would uncover during the screening and qualifying stage.

Deliver an outstanding onboarding experience

Many organizations confuse orientation with onboarding— and focusing too much on new hire paperwork and processes has a significant impact on that worker's productivity, as candidates who experience poor onboarding are 8x more likely to be disengaged after 3 months. This suggests these resources are significantly less likely to extend their contract or entertain additional offers with an organization they had a negative experience with.

Avoid subcultures

Although contingent workers cannot be classified as full-time employees or enjoy the same company incentives or perks, it is important to offer a sense of inclusion to avoid workplace barriers created by any full-time employee and contingent worker subcultures. As an employer, businesses can’t be careless or apathetic when dealing with a contingent workforce. To remain motivated, productive and inclined to stay or return for future projects, contingent workers need to feel as though they are part of the team and not just temporary bodies in a seat.

Provide training, development tools and performance evaluations

A recent Global Human Capital Trends survey released by Deloitte, states only 32 per cent of responding organizations track a contingent worker's quality of work. Yet, in order for contingent workers to see a long term relationship, they need to see that you're interested in the work they've accomplished and the value they bring to the organization. It's important for HR to work with teams across the entire organization, from legal to IT, to set clear performance goals and provide the training for a productive engagement. Extending your contingent worker management strategy across your entire organization will ensure the worker has a clear understanding of the company's goals and strategy -- immersing them more within the culture and brand. 

Keep in touch

As the workforce prepares to enter the new world of work, many employers are designing and implementing hybrid remote and in-office work models to adjust to the new normal. If your contingent workers are 100 per cent remote, it's important to keep them managed and motivated by checking in via video and other communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams.

Uncover motivation factors

Understanding the unique needs of skilled, contingent workers is crucial to attracting and retaining them. And it isn't always about the money. Other motivating factors like work/life balance, project scope, technologies used, skill development opportunities or location can be powerful negotiators. What can your organization offer that will keep a contingent worker loyal?

The post pandemic worker comes with a whole new slew of expectations, and organizations will need to be competitive in their approach to attracting and retaining skilled, contingent workers. 

Learn more about attracting and retaining talent on your terms:

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