Proper Care and Feeding of Contract and Temp Workers

If you’ve found yourself relying more on temporary and contract employees since the economic downturn began, you are not alone. Widespread layoffs and promising waves of recovery have required employers to be more nimble with their staffing. The ability to bring on workers for specific projects or upticks in business has proven quite effective for many organizations. In fact, 90 percent of companies now use contract staffing services, according to the American Staffing Association.

Some people may look at temp or contract work as merely a means of making ends meet while between jobs, but those who make a career out of it actually make a decent living. Working in conjunction with BusinessWeek, Seattle-based PayScale compiled a list of the top-warning contract workers. Topping the list were database administrators, earning an annualized salary of $80,300 (22.6 percent than their permanent colleagues). Of course, temp and contract employees don’t receive health care and other benefits that can add up to tens of thousands of dollars more each year.

While no one is about to suggest companies begin offering a full slate of benefits to temp and contract workers, there are a number of ways companies can promote the interests of these individuals who are increasingly playing a key role in organizational success:

 1-     Maintain a database of temp and contract employees who have worked at your company. If you have an automated system for matching employees to internal opportunities, invite them to input their information. This makes it easier to match them up to a suitable opportunity. Keep in mind, however, that not all contract employees are looking for a full-time permanent position. Some relish the freedom and variety of contract work and have no interest whatsoever in becoming an employee of any one company.

2-     Treat temp and contract workers like an integral part of the company – after all, that’s what they are! If they weren’t, you wouldn’t have brought them onboard, particularly in this economy when “doing more with less” is the rallying cry. Keep the lines of communication open, meet with them regularly to discuss their progress, and be sure to heap on the praise when their work meets – or exceeds – your expectations. Offer them more opportunities to contribute, either via more responsibilities or additional assignments.

3-     Extend opportunities for bonuses and other incentives to temp and contract employees. If their work is driving key outcomes, they deserve to be rewarded just as much as their permanent, full-time colleagues. Motivation is often a concern when managing temporary workers. By offering them opportunities to boost their earnings, you are guaranteeing that your temp and contract workers will feel more loyalty to the company. They’ll be more likely to work a little harder and to talk positively about the organization to others.

4-     Encourage other employees to treat their temp and contract colleagues like part of the team. Sometimes, employees display hostility toward contract workers because they feel threatened. They may mistakenly believe the employer is “trying out” this individual to possibly take their place. Consequently, they may go out of their way to be nasty. Foster a culture of acceptance and encourage everyone to engage in teamwork regardless of whether their team-members are full-time employees or temp workers.

5-     Include temp and contract employees in company outings and celebrations. A company Christmas party or summer picnic may not seem like a big deal to someone who isn’t really an employee of the company, but what better way to incorporate them into the corporate culture and make them feel like one of the team? If you end up hiring them full-time down the road, it will be a seamless transition and they will be more likely to stay with the company for the long haul.

6-     Serve as a reference for temp and contract employees who end up going elsewhere. You haven’t made any promises to them, but they have worked hard for you nonetheless. The least you can do is tell others about the great things these individuals have done while working under your supervision.

When managed properly, temp and contract workers can be just as crucial to your company’s success as its full-time workforce. Simply treat them like the valued employees they are and they will continue to deliver for as long as you require their services.

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