Helpful Hints: Tips for Working with Independent Contractors | DCR Workforce Blog

Helpful Hints: Tips for Working with Independent Contractors

Smart organizations are always looking for new and different, if not innovative, ways to manage their businesses. Most are keenly exploring alternatives and changing the ways they engage with workers and increase the flexibility in doing so. As a result, they’re adapting different staffing models and bringing non-employees on board, either as contingent workers or as independent contractors (ICs). The lack of access to certain niche skills in the job market is also getting employers to experiment with this option.

There are some compliance pitfalls that people hiring independent contractors could fall into, but this post is not about misclassification and the resultant penalties and fines. This is how to take the ideal approach to managing and hiring an independent contractor to ensure his or her commitment and loyalty. It can be tricky to navigate, so following are some helpful hints.

Tips for working with independent contractors

Independent contractors may be brought in to handle specialized tasks or roles requiring vastly superior skills, or be there to handle some peripheral tasks that would burden your full-time staff. These workers help fill a gap in the workforce and, depending on the position, they may work remotely from anywhere in the world.

The task may be a one-time affair or a seasonal or repeat engagement, requiring an effort to engage the worker and stay connected for a longer term, even after the expiry of an assignment.

Err on the side of caution

There are some basic precautions needed to work with ICs as outlined below:

  • To ensure compliance, you’ll need to establish a clear difference between how you treat and manage your employees versus your independent contractors.
  • Make sure that employees and contractors are not made to do the same kind of work.
  • Do not provide the same incentives and benefits to both types of workers.
  • Make sure that you have a different job description for Independent Contractors that describes the work needed and lists out the deliverables and timelines.
  • Do not exert any control over how they do the work or provide any tools or equipment to them.
  • In case of any dissatisfaction with the worker requiring negative feedback, make sure you have an escalation process where the matter is taken up with the staffing supplier who sent the IC to work for you.
  • Do not offer any of the company’s job titles to the independent contractor or issue company business cards to them. Do not set up processes in such way that the independent contractors signs any documents on behalf of the company.

Working with independent contractors

Follow these tips to engage your independent contractors better and build a relationship with them to ensure that you can access them at will and improve your efficiency in achieving your organizational goals:

  • Pay rates undoubtedly play a strong role in engaging a worker, but pay is not the only thing that matters in engagement.
  • Even independent contractors can be offered paid leaves and other benefits to ensure a happy and productive worker.
  • Provide clarity over their individual contribution and find ways to provide them with feedback and to recognize them for their efforts, without giving scope to claims of co-employment.
  • Keep the lines of communication open with them, and give them the confidence that any issues that may crop up during the course of their tenure can be easily resolves. This confidence may be supported all the way to the final invoice raised by them.
  • Make sure that the IC has a congenial and harmonious interaction with whoever manages them on behalf of the company, especially if you want to want a longer engagement with repeat assignments.

Keeping independent contractors engaged with your organization reaps rewards in the long run as they return for future assignments, refer others to work with you and build your employer brand in the contingent work community.

Not engaging them can reap you the opposite, so the choice seems to be pretty obvious…although there is a fine line so they’re not considered employees. What processes or best practices do you follow to ensure engagement while staying fully compliant?

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.