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How to improve your contractor onboarding experience

Feb 02, 2020


It’s no secret, worker satisfaction, engagement and retention are critical to your organization’s success. Your ability to effectively manage these vital HR components can have a lasting impact on your entire company. A 2016 study on employee engagement uncovered that new hires who reported experiencing poor onboarding were “eight times more likely to be disengaged in their work” after their first three months and that they would not recommend the company to others. Clearly, the onboarding process plays an important part in keeping workers happy.

For most organizations, onboarding is a clearly defined process for their full time hires however the same cannot always be said when it comes to contractors.

We’ve put together the following seven tips to help your organization improve the onboarding process for its contingent workers, with a goal to enhancing their long-term feelings about your company and improve engagement.

Analyze your contingent worker onboarding program

Imagine you’re joining your organization as a contractor. Who will you meet with? What do you need to do to be able to start working right away? Do you know how the payroll process works? Will you need training? What other questions might you want answers to before you start working? Consider what needs to change in your program. For a real understanding of the experience, survey some of your contingent workers for their input.

Streamline your existing onboarding process

All processes need to be reviewed from time to time to ensure that the steps within it are still vital. Onboarding is no exception.

Communicate clearly and manage expectations

At the heart of every new working relationship is a desire for clear communication and a firm understanding as to what’s required to succeed. First of all, make sure that all of the information that is being shared with them is accurate from the start, especially when it comes to things such as the “rates and dates”. Additionally, let your new contractor know what to expect their first day/week. Tell them what you expect of them and also who they can turn to with any questions. This information is not difficult to organize however making it available and communicating it clearly is so important for a good first impression.

Build up your employer brand

Your new contingent worker will come in contact with a number of people in your organization. Each touchpoint they have with your company and its people should be a positive experience for them. Contract workers, just like employees, will come and go, and they all have an opinion about your company. Websites such as Glassdoor let workers rate employers on their experience while at the organization. Individuals looking for work use these websites religiously, so it’s important to view all touch points as opportunities to put your company in the best possible light.

Manage feedback

Knowing what contingent workers have to say about your company is a great way to better manage expectations (and your employer brand). Whether it’s a formal exit interview or a survey, ask for feedback from each contractor. Be sure to track and analyze all comments (yes, even the bad ones!), and implement suggested changes whenever possible.

Be flexible

Your onboarding program will change and evolve with your company’s needs. It’s important to recognize when certain elements of your program are no longer working as well as they used to and when you need to make adjustments to the process and/or the resources.

Have a great onboarding team

You’ve heard the saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, well the same can be said for your onboarding process. Make sure the team you have in place is properly trained, people focused and willing to share your organizational goals.

Great onboarding can be a rewarding experience for both you and your contingent workforce; however, it can be risky for companies who don't get it right. Learn more about the risks associated with a contingent workforce with our Whitepaper: Contingent Worker Risk Checklist.


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