Traditionally, contract workers used to come and go completing what they were hired to do, often without anyone knowing their name. With global talent shortages, both small and large organizations are engaging contract workers more and more. In fact, it is estimated that 50.9% of the American workforce will be comprised of freelance (i.e. contract) workers within the next 10 years. So, we better figure out how to embrace contract workers as a legitimate part of the organization in order to build a viable team.
So, can contract workers, often working remotely, truly be “part of the team”? The short answer, absolutely! However, it is up to managers and coworkers to put in a little effort to make them feel wanted and valued.
Isolation and Exclusion
Anyone who has worked as a contract (a.k.a contingent, temporary, hourly) worker has felt like a “second class citizen” from time to time. It often stems from management’s view that these individuals are “temporary” workers who:
- Lack commitment to the outcome; they are paid for the project or specific task at hand and will not reap all the subsequent benefits (e.g. success of the company, bonus for job well done)
- Aren’t beholden to confidentiality; since they do not “work” for the organization, they lack a sense of allegiance to the organization
- Likely to have conflicts of interest; fear that ideas/inventions will be claimed as intellectual property and not the organizations’ property
Contract workers also feel isolated and excluded because they usually work flex hours and/or remotely, outside the traditional 9-5 office environment.
However, these are team hindering viewpoints. If not overcome, they will cripple healthy group collaboration that often depends upon contract workers in order to innovate and problem solve. Worst case scenarios, the contract worker puts forth minimal effort and/or quits and taking their talent to another organization. This is why organizations must work harder to make contract employees feel valued and engaged.
Engage and Connect
It has been proven that happy employees are productive employees. This is true for contract workers too. If they feel left out or underappreciated, there is no way they can feel happy. As humans we are not motivated by money alone. We need to feel welcome, appreciated and heard. How can this be achieved for contract workers? By getting to know them better and providing ways to acknowledge and praise their work.
Below is a list of ways to engage and connect with contract workers better:
- Check in daily via text, instant message, or phone call – do not count on email correspondence only! (e.g. start the day off with a “daily stand up” – everyone gathers around, albeit on the phone or video chat to take turns with what they are working on, what their goals for the day are and where they need help)
- Get to know them on a personal level – contract employee will really appreciate the personal touch, (e.g. ask about their family, hobbies)
- Plan meetups or office parties for some face time with one another (this can also be done virtually!)
- Establish peer recognition (e.g. monthly employee recognition, where coworkers nominate one another for jobs well done)
No matter what technique is used, these impermanent workers are here to stay. Working with contractors in all aspects of business is the new normal, so we better start embracing them as valued team members.
Contract Workers are an Important Part of Team Building
Larry Lipman of Fun Team Building will develop a customized team building day for your organization. Lean more about the individuals that work for you, including contracted talent, through team bonding games that will foster lasting motivation for success within your organization. Call Larry today at 770-333-3303.