It’s no secret that contract employees often feel like second-class citizens in the workplace. Employers are prone to separating full-time and contract workers, sometimes to the extreme: placing contractors on separate floors of the office, giving them different security badges, or providing contractor-specific email addresses. While contractor status may limit access to certain sensitive company information or decision-making, employers stand to benefit by better incorporating contractors into their workforce.
In the current candidate market, contract workers are valuable assets for employers looking to staff a large project or those looking for very specific expertise. Employers looking to hold onto these quality contractors must foster an inclusive environment. This begins with bridging the divide between full-time and contract employees. Making this change helps create a collaborative environment where employees are more comfortable working on projects together and understand they are valued, regardless of full-time or contractor status. Below are a few ways to bridge this divide.
Integrate contract workers with full time employees
It’s not uncommon to hear horror stories from current or former contractors about companies that blatantly separate their contract employees from the rest of the work force. Keeping contractors at arm’s length by sectioning them off from other employees is a sure way to taint the relationship from the onset. Contractors are usually hired to accomplish a specific project or fill a role during a busy season; retaining a positive connection is necessary to attracting top talent and getting the job done well. In addition, a contractor is often an opportunity to “test drive” an employee, and if they turn out to be a rock star, you want to ensure they will want to work for your company.
It’s simple: treat contract employees the same as every other employee, and avoid labels of “contractor” or “temp worker.” You want contractors to feel that they are a part of the organization, and that their work is building toward the same goal as everyone else.
Invite them to company outings
An easy way to make a contract worker feel like an outsider is not inviting them to regular office celebrations. It may be unintentional to leave out the contract employee when it comes to birthday celebrations or happy hours, but remind teams to include them on invites to these happenings as an easy way to get to know one another on a more personal level. Additionally, remember the contract employee’s birthday! Nothing says “You’re a part of this team” like a cake and celebration.
Although it may seem small to include contractors in these types of office events, it’s part of a larger theme of including them in the culture of the office. These gatherings are the time when employees bond and get to know one another outside of the workplace. It helps everyone feel more comfortable in their communication, and leads to a more positive and productive work environment.
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Give contract employees bonuses
If your company hands out bonuses, include the contractor if they’re also deserving. The monetary award is nice, and it also signals they’re a key part of workplace and their work is valued.
Obviously contractors will not have access to the company benefits packages, but looking for ways to include some perks is an effective way to show they’re part of the company. If employees are allowed a certain number of work from home days, spot bonuses or similar, less-structured perks, consider allowing contract workers the same access to these.
There’s a lot of conversations surrounding managing relationships with employees, and contractors, given their temporary nature, are often overlooked. It’s just as important to create a desirable working environment for contract workers as it is for full-time employees. Ultimately, this will benefit both parties and build positive relationships with top talent whether full-time or contract-based.