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3 Tips When Onboarding Contract Employees

You’re overwhelmed, underskilled, or understaffed, but don’t have a long term need to bring on another full-time employee.

So, what do you do? For many companies, the answer is: hire a contractor.

While contract employees can be your silver bullet, it’s important to remember that it takes more planning than just identifying the need and the selection of the candidate. In order to successfully get the most out of your investment, you also need to plan for how you integrate them into your systems, processes, and culture.

Below, we explain why companies typically hire contractors, where many companies fall short in their contractor onboarding process, and how to set your contractors up for success. 

Why do companies hire contractors?

Whether you realize it or not, contractors play an essential role in running a business. The reason a company would bring a contractor on generally falls into one of three categories:

Project based skill need

Many companies, big and small, will engage in projects through the year that require additional support. For example, you might be planning to upgrade your ERP and realize you need to bring in a skilled Programming expert to ensure your integrations and custom configurations are maintained during and post upgrade.  You don’t need this person full-time, just for the duration of the project.

Bandwidth need

Let’s say your company is setting up a new manufacturing plant, or you get a huge influx of sales orders, and the workload required would exacerbate your current staff. Instead of risking over working your team and developing disgruntled employees that may choose to leave your company, you can bring on additional people just for the time you need the additional bandwidth.

Staff augmentation need

Probably the most commonly recognized need is temporarily augmenting your current staff. For instance, if your Compensation Analyst is going out on maternity/paternity leave, you would want to bring in a contractor during the employee’s leave to ensure there is no gap in your business.

The mistake most companies make when onboarding contractors and the negative effects to the business

The biggest issue we see when companies hire contractors is that they become so focused on scoping out the need and hiring the right person that they fail to plan for what happens post-selection.

Many hiring managers are familiar with Human Resources (HR) taking care of onboarding employees, including communicating with them prior to start date, collecting documents for compliance, initiating creation of system accounts/access, just like they would for normal hires. But oftentimes these responsibilities lie in the hiring managers’ hands because the contractor is not an actual employee of your company, and thus HR often legally cannot engage with them.

And besides ensuring that contractors have what they need to start, hiring managers need to also provide relevant training on internal systems, communicate expected deliverables, set a work schedule, and establish communication protocols.

When these measures aren’t in place, companies run the risk of slowing down their projects, incurring unnecessary costs, or worse, losing the expertly selected contractor they’ve worked so hard to get.

3 steps to prepare for contract employees

The good news is that these problems are easily overcome by having a proactive and holistic plan in place when brining on a contractor. The companies we have worked with that do this exceptionally well, follow 3 main tips:

1. They involve key stakeholders – Once you have the scope of the contract need determined, ask HR, finance, IT, production, or any other relevant team for feedback. Understand what elements are needed from each department to facilitate the selection and onboarding process. Designate responsibilities and timelines. This will help get everyone on the same page before recruiting occurs and will prevent surprises down the line.

2. They create a contractor checklist – When a contractor shows up on their first day, they’ll likely have little to no knowledge of how your company conducts business, what systems you use, or typical hours people work. Consider making a checklist that covers these items to make sure contractors have what they need to do great work. Keep in mind, a majority of this checklist should be checked off before the contractor starts. System access, expectations, and schedules should be set ahead of time to allow contractors to hit the ground running.

3. They designate a point of contact – Contractors will inevitably have questions, so preempt that by appointing a point of contact (POC). The POC should serve as a liaison between the contractor and whoever else they may need to speak to within your organization. Letting a contractor know they have someone to contact via phone or email is often a big relief and streamlines communication among both parties. The caveat, of course, is that the POC must be available and responsive, and so often might need to be someone in addition to the hiring manager.

Level-up your contractor experience

The extra pressures of the pandemic have seen a tremendous rise in the use of contractors —companies are hiring for part-time or project-based work and realizing the benefits of capitalizing on remote work. This has generated a candidate driven market, where the best talent has their choice of projects. Companies need to take adequate measures to ensure they not only select the right candidate, but also attract and keep them on the project, and that takes time and effort.

One of the best ways to guarantee this is to enlist the help of a recruitment agency. Not only can they source top talent, but they also serve as a main point of contact, ensure legal terms are in order, and make the hiring and onboarding process easy on everyone. Learn more about how Planet Technology can Level-up your contractor experience here.

Photo Credit: Canva

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