Top Six Things You Do that Drive Away Your Contingent Workers | DCR Workforce Blog

Top Six Things You Do that Drive Away Your Contingent Workers

Is the unplanned attrition of your contingent workers low and in control? Or is it very high?

At DCR Workforce, we counsel our clients to examine contingent worker retention rates as an indicator of worker engagement. While the most common business response to rising levels of unplanned attrition is a revision of pay rates, research has shown, time and again, that pay rates are not the sole cause of unplanned attrition. In fact, an increase in pay rates for those workers in the lower end of a pay range resulted in a significant increase in retention in two-thirds of the cases; but an increase for those in the upper to middle part of the range does not have an appreciable effect on worker retention.

Recently, our analyst team researched the issue of unplanned attrition among contingent workers. We isolated a number of causes that drive a worker’s decision to leave a position before contract completion.

What could a contingent worker program be missing that causes workers leave their assignments mid-way? Based on our research, we have isolated the key factors – beyond dissatisfaction with compensation – that drive away contingent workers. Our research focused strictly on individuals who elect contingent assignments, but leave one engagement with the intention of pursuing a different temporary engagement. For the purposes of this study, we excluded individuals who departed to take on permanent employment.

  1. The staffing agency may have oversold the company, the job description and the work conditions. Workers reported unfilled promises of growth and development opportunities, opportunities to acquire new skills, participation in exciting projects, and conversion from temporary to permanent position without basis. When the workers actually report to work and learn the truth, they walk away at the first opportunity.
  2. Failure to On-board. When the worker comes on board, the designated supervisor will need to help the worker understand the job responsibilities, provide access to the resources needed, train them on safety and indicate where to turn for assistance. Failure to do so leads to worker frustration and could impair the worker’s wish to continue with the assignment.
  3. Lack of Communication. Permanent staff may treat the workers as part of the furniture or act like they are second class citizens or downright invisible! The supervisor assigned to them may also not be very communicative. In such circumstances, the workers may leave rather than struggle without the interaction they may require to deliver on the job. To really be committed, workers need to know where they fit in the larger scheme of a company and its operations.
  4. Negative Work Environment. Some respondents indicated that exploitative and oppressive working conditions, demeaning attitudes, abusive language and disrespectful treatment, and callous disregard for the safety and welfare of the worker are more commonplace than many of us may suspect. Stressful work conditions were cited as one of the top reasons people seek to exit without much delay.
  5. Lack of Recognition. When a worker is highly productive and makes a significant contribution, someone must take the trouble to recognize that effort. In the case of a temporary worker, where references and acknowledged achievements are a critical driver of continuous engagements, recognition from the staffing agency or supervisor – particularly when the acknowledgement comes in the form of a testimonial on LinkedIn or other social sites – goes a long way toward worker engagement.
  6. Workers, whether permanent or temporary, look for an employer who deals with them fairly, and who is open, honest and truthful in all dealings with them. Ignoring issues and blundering on as if nothing is amiss will not keep workers from walking away. For contingent workers, this applies to both the staffing agency who serves as employer of record and the client who has retained the individual’s services.

Contingent workers, continuously keeping an eye out for their next assignment, depend on their reputation. Most do not casually walk away from engagements for fear of being blacklisted by the staffing industry. When this occurs, you need to find out why.

When a dissatisfied contingent worker prematurely ends an engagement, the client is penalized twice. Replacements must be sourced, onboarded and brought up to speed. All of this comes at a cost measured in recruitment dollars and project delays. In addition, social media makes it easy for a dissatisfied worker to share their experience and label you as a poor employer.

Savvy companies today monitor unplanned attrition rates, and explore root causes. Exit interviews are conducted with all departing workers, and companies then circle back with the staffing agencies to gather any relevant insights that the worker was reluctant to share with the company, but did discuss with the staffing agency.

To learn more about how you compare to your peers in terms of contingent worker retention, or need help developing an attrition reduction initiative, contact us.

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.