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Make your contractors part of your team

The gig economy is notoriously skewed towards the employer at the expense of the employee, shifting business risk onto those who can least afford it. But if it’s simply not viable to take on an employee or team full-time, that doesn’t mean the individual has to have a raw deal.

There are many reasons why an organisation may need to bring in contractors, and they’re not always just about the bottom line. Restructuring, a need for specialist expertise on a particular project, recruitment gaps and talent management are all genuine reasons for taking on temporary staff.

Regardless of the reason for short-time work, if you want your people to do a good job you have to treat them as an extended part of the team. Of course, the mechanics of the contracts will be very different to those of permanent employees, so there has to be total clarity of what that contract is and the deliverables within it, including KPIs and measurement.

Being open and honest about expectations provides a stable working environment for everyone, not just the contractor – it can be quite threatening for permanent employees to see people coming and going and can have a big impact on motivation and productivity. If the reasons for taking on extra help are transparent, it leaves no room for suspicion or misunderstanding.

When everyone is clear about what’s expected of them, the short-time workers should be treated as part of the extended workforce rather than outsiders. They should be invited to social gatherings, involved in meetings and have their opinions taken into account. This doesn’t just ensure people remain engaged, it provides extra insight internally from someone with a wider perspective.

Within the workplace, contractors should be factored into the equation when it comes to hot desking, remote working and any other logistical requirements. It’s also really important to make sure temporary staff have access to resources such as password-protected printers and other hardware, with the security clearance they need to be able to swipe in and out.

There’s nothing that says ‘us and them’ more than having to wait outside in the rain to be buzzed into a building, or asking around the office if someone can print an essential document needed for a client meeting. This means extra work for HR and the security teams in granting and revoking access, but it’s essential to avoid low morale.With a little consideration and some forward planning, contractors can be valuable assets without feeling left out in the cold.