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How to Manage Your Contingent Workforce Compliantly and Effectively

Over the course of several years, companies have started working with contingent workers more than ever before. The pandemic has certainly had an impact, as businesses have had to adapt in order to fill in various skill gaps and find experienced workers that aren’t looking for permanent employment. 

Remote work in general has empowered more people to become contractors as opposed to limiting themselves to a single company. The risks go both ways, and there is no ideal solution, but when you do embrace the possibility of working with contingent staff, you need a strategy that goes with it.

This growing trend combined with the availability of professional managed services specializing in contract workers have brought on a surge of aspiring contractors and businesses to boot. The end result? Almost 60% of surveyed businesses within a study noted that at least 20% of their entire workforce were contractors. 

Knowing that other businesses are doing their best to impress this workforce, you need a robust management strategy to elevate retention and ensure compliance. 

Ensure efficient communication

As external, temporary staff, your contractors will most likely need some time to adapt to your communication methods. After all, they work with multiple businesses regularly, and they often encounter unique ways these businesses handle task assignment, collaboration, and monitoring. 

It’s your responsibility to grant them access to your essential communication tools. Whether you’re using a project management system, a chat platform, and a cloud storage solution, you should help them connect with your teams as they start working with you.

Keep them in the loop when things are changing on their project, no matter how briefly they intend to stay. Encourage regular feedback among contingent workers and your full-time staff. Always familiarize your contingent workers with your policies from the get-go, to help them adapt more quickly.

Focus on long-term partnerships

Some companies prefer to work with local contractors, because it’s more convenient to meet in person. Other businesses are open to working with international contractors, as long as they fulfill certain criteria. Either way, to make sure that you can work with them effectively, focus on building lasting relationships. 

No matter how limited their project with you will be, the goal is to make them feel like part of the team. Establishing long-term partnerships with them will set the stage for future opportunities, too. That means that every time you need someone of their expertise, they will be much more likely to come back. 

Location-specific compliance

If you fall into the category of companies happy to work with employees and contractors everywhere, you need to be mindful of the legal implications this brings. If your business is located elsewhere and you wish to hire people residing in Australia, you need a strategy that minimizes expenses and allows you ample hiring flexibility.

Most businesses rely on professional Employer Of Record services (or EOR) when looking to hire local contractors, to ensure legal compliance and meeting all the local requirements. Instead of setting up an entire company locally to hire temporary workers, this approach cuts costs and helps you simplify the onboarding from that legal perspective. 

Dedicated HR for contractors

External workers and contractors need to know that even within your organization, there is someone they can turn to if they have an issue, a question, or if they need help performing their tasks. Your HR department should have a designated contingent workforce management policy in place to make this happen.

If your business is located in a different country, then having someone on-site and ready to help is always useful. Then again, if someone locally represents your business, you should have someone who will work to protect the rights and needs of your contractors, too. This will likely inspire them to work for you in the future, too. 

Transparency and managing expectations

Clarity is everything when someone, an outsider of sorts, starts working with your team. They already have a rhythm, they follow your internal procedures, so how do you make it easier for the contingent workers to assimilate?

For starters, you need to make sure that transparency is part of your corporate culture to begin with. If you openly discuss project goals, KPIs, as well as the core duties your workers need to perform, it’s much easier to manage expectations. Eliminating this kind of stress makes your collaboration far more effective and in line with their needs as well as your own legal obligations. 

Eliminate silos in collaboration

Transparency doesn’t end with you sharing project goals and handing out assignments. The way you collaborate with your external workers needs to be inclusive. Consider setting up a collaboration strategy that factors in your contingent staff – it doesn’t just boil down to inviting them to Slack or Basecamp.

Make sure that, for as long as they work with you, they play a relevant role in your interactions, they know how their work plays into your business goals, and the like. Educate your full-time employees on the best strategies to work with one another, including the people that come on board only temporarily. 

Provide growth opportunities 

Perks and benefits aren’t reserved for your full-time staff only. In fact, considering the level of competition out there, your contingent workers likely have many options. If you need them, show them how much you value their time and expertise in the same ways you do for your employees.

Offer them training opportunities like workshops, seminars, and courses. Let them know how they can advance within your organization, or when they can anticipate a higher fee. Growth can be interpreted in many different ways, so it’s up to you to get creative and see what matters to them most. 

Running a business today requires an agile mindset and a strategy to match. Working with external experts like contractors means that you need to find ways to maintain a legally binding relationship that serves them as much as it serves your business. 

With the right approach, you can inspire contingent workers to come back to your business for more work, recommend your brand to their colleagues, and build a solid reputation as a business both in the eyes of the local authorities and the people you wish to work with in the future.

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