Driving Contingent Worker Satisfaction & Engagement | DCR Workforce Blog

Driving Contingent Worker Satisfaction & Engagement

Worker SatisfactionMost employers make significant efforts to improve the engagement of their employees. Why does it matter to an employer whether an employee is engaged or not? Failure to engage employees could directly affect the bottom line, as disengaged employees hurt a company’s competitive advantage and thereby its profits. According to a 2013 survey by Gallup, low levels of employee engagement result in inferior performance and productivity, absenteeism, and low customer service and high turnover – costing companies nearly $550 billion a year!

While much has been written about employee engagement, little attention has been given to the engagement of non-employees. Since they are only on a temporary assignment, it hardly matters, right? Wrong! Consider that today nearly a quarter of the American workforce is comprised of agency contractors, independent consultants, freelancers, and small teams delivering outsourced projects. Can a company be successful if it ignores the satisfaction and level of commitment of one quarter of its workforce? To further increase the criticality of the issue, consider that today contingent workers are holding critical technical, professional and managerial positions.

Employee satisfaction has traditionally been linked to compensation, recognition, a positive work environment, and opportunities for advancement. Incentives such as stock options, participation in 401(k) programs, employee gatherings, and awards programs are the norm in most companies. Yet these are the very activities that the courts use to determine claims of co-employment. How can a company motivate contingent workers to deliver high performance without incurring risk?

In working with clients, DCR Workforce has found that our clients can ensure a high level of commitment and performance from non-employees through the following actions:

  1. Start strong: Every contingent worker should go through a comprehensive orientation process on their first day of assignment. Work with the staffing agency and/or Managed Services Provider to ensure that the worker understands the job responsibilities, has been given needed access and equipment, has been briefed on the company, undergone safety training, introduced to key personnel, and know where to turn for assistance.
  2. Communicate: People do their best work when they understand the “big picture”. When onboarding non-employees, make them aware of your organizational goals, vision and mission so that they can understand what you expect from them and how their work contributes to your overall strategy.
  3. Engage all workers: Organizations have found that they missed out on the value of many constructive suggestions and ideas about work and work processes by keeping their contingent workers at an arm’s length, not including them in important project-related decision.
  4. Recognize performance: Work with your staffing agencies to offer recognition programs specifically for contingent workers. Ensure that the programs are designed specifically to recognize contingent workers and the agencies that provide them.
  5. Reinforce the Culture: A common complaint voiced by contingent workers is that permanent employees make them feel isolated or treat them as second class citizens. Typically, this is caused by a lack of understanding as to why a position was filled by a non-employee, the role that the worker will play, and the expectations as to how they are to fit into the team. Inform staff employees prior to the worker’s arrival, address any concerns, and establish business practices that reinforce the inclusion of the contingent workers. It’s OK to include contingent workers in corporate activities like holiday parties as invited guests. The risk is not associated with their participation – it is with the way in which the event is described.
  6. Build an ongoing relationship: Be sure that the worker knows that high performance may lead to future opportunities for additional contingent or permanent engagements. At the successful conclusion of the assignment, enter then worker into an alumni system that enables the worker to maintain their profile, be notified of potential work assignments, and stay in touch with developments within your company. Reward high performance with references on LinkedIn and similar sites.

Worker relations are always dynamic. As employers become increasingly dependent on non-employees, they must expand their focus to improve relations with all worker groups, ensuring high levels of productivity and performance – from each and every one of them.

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.