Communicating with Your Contingent Workers | DCR Workforce Blog

Communicating with Your Contingent Workers

STEM EducationIn a recent survey, 58% of firms expressed a willingness to employ temporary workers at all levels of the workforce. So, it comes as no surprise that temporary and part-time employment is the fastest-growing segment of the American job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of part-time employees is at a record high of 28 million, while temporary employment has jumped 50 percent since the financial crisis of 2009. This phenomenon is driven by the need to cut fixed costs while ensuring that productivity remains unaffected.

These buyers are slowly adapting themselves to the challenges posed by their use of these workers. They must create a work environment that integrates the temp into the larger workforce without creating co-employment relationships.  Communication must be carefully orchestrated so that the contingent worker is continuously reminded that the staffing agency is the employer of choice while being given the information and support needed to successfully complete the engagement.

Successful companies have found that the combined efforts of the hiring manager and supplier are needed to create an environment in which temp workers can make significant contributions. Some emerging best practices in this regard include the following:

  • The hiring manager must clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each temp, and be sure that the internal staff understands the contribution that the temp is expected to contribute to the team.
  • The supplier must provide an orientation session with the contingent worker, ensuring that these workers understand the organization’s vision and goals in such a way as to align their performance to suit the needs of the business, and its success.
  • At the end of the first week of work, the supplier should check in with the hiring manager and the worker to determine if there are any issues or concerns that should be addressed.  Through regular discussions between the hiring manager and supplier, the supplier can coach the temp while the hiring manager can increase the team’s understanding and acceptance of the worker.
  • Determine upfront whether the position could potentially convert to a permanent position.  All parties should agree on this, and on the process for making, and potentially enacting, this decision.  The hiring manager and permanent employees must avoid any conversation with the temp regarding weekly work schedules, work from home options, requests for time off, compensation or any other discussions that should only occur between a worker and employer.  Defer these questions to the supplier.
  • Keep the lines of communication open with a temporary worker to discuss the actual work and allow them the freedom to ask questions about the tasks assigned to them.
  • As knowledge translates to indispensability, it may prove a challenge to get permanent hires to transfer their knowledge to temporary workers and vice versa. The hiring manager must create an environment conducive to information-sharing. The right way to do so is a matter of individual effort, but collaboration tools that provide a repository for collective information and eases the efforts to share information.

One final note.  The rise in the use of contingent workers, combined with the frequent lay-offs of the past few years, has resulted in a high degree of fear that employers intend to terminate permanent employees and replace them with temps.  Recent examples of companies that brought their workforce below 50 to avoid ACA enforcement has further increased the anxiety level of employees of mid-size companies.  It comes as no surprise that employees who believe that the introduction of a temp may mean that they are about to lose their job will be reluctant to assist the temp in coming up to speed.  Hiring managers must understand the unspoken reasons that explain why contingent workers are not yielding the value to some work situations that are achieved on other engagements.  Be sure that your team understands your reasons for the inclusion of temporary talent.  This will go a long way towards reducing the worker’s ‘time to contribution’.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.