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How to keep contingent workers from jumping ship

Jan 27, 2020

Wendy Kennah
Wendy Kennah

Hiring was hard in 2019. As organizations grapple to win the war for talent, Canada's labour shortage intensifies, with almost 400,000 positions left vacant. The workforce ecosystem has dramatically changed, and attitudes towards employment are shifting towards more alternative worker arrangements.

When contingent workers are expected to make up almost half of the workforce by 2020, attracting and retaining niche talent is vital to an organization's recruitment program. However, it's a candidate driven market, and once you've acquired contract workers, how you handle the arrangement will determine whether they agree to any extensions or leave for a more attractive offer at any time. 

Yet, how do you keep contingent talent from jumping ship? Here are some tips to consider when designing a talent acquisition program.

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

In this year’s Global Human Capital Trends survey released by Deloitte, 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. 

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 war for talent isn't expected to end anytime soon -- and organizations will need to be competitive in their approach to attracting and retaining skilled, contingent workers. 

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