Building strong relationships with independent talent will be important for businesses in the coming year as more enterprises seek to use independents as part of their staffing strategy. Top independent talent—who have the skills companies seek—have the luxury of picking the clients they work with. Those who purposely find ways to prioritize contractor satisfaction and develop good relationships will be much more attractive places for independents to work. Here are five ways your company can build stronger contractor relationships in 2024.
1. Create a Welcoming Environment
Independent contractors value a good work environment, just like any employee. Because most independents will work remotely, help them feel like part of the company by introducing them to team members via virtual meetings, hosting virtual coffee breaks or happy hours, or connecting them with employees and mangers through a chat system they can use throughout the day.
Other ways to create an attractive work environment include developing an efficient onboarding process. Software today can help you create automate systems to limit paperwork and complete initial vetting and background checks online. Independents place high value on streamlined, clear onboarding.
2. Re-think Communication
Independent contractors appreciate working with a client who can communicate well. When working with independents, communication will take different forms than what your team may be used to internally. At the start of a project, managers should meet with independents to talk through expectations, project goals, and timelines.
As a project moves along, feedback and regular check-ins are helpful. Choose the virtual tools that will work best for you and your contractors such as video apps or project management resources.
3. Encourage Learning and Collaboration
Close to 90% of independents say learning new skills is either important or very important to their careers. Independents run their own businesses based off their skills, so staying on top of the latest knowledge is important for them stay relevant and valuable to their clients.
Having the opportunity to take on a challenging project or pursue professional development while on a project is a great reason to work with a particular client. And offering these options to independents can work to your benefit in the long run—talent will boost their skills and be more likely to return to work with you.
4. Keep Top Talent Engaged
Once you’ve found independent talent who work well with your company, you’ll want to find ways to keep them coming back for future work. one way to do this is to build a virtual talent bench: a group of independent talent who have worked with your company before or who have already gone through many onboarding steps prior to taking on a project. Having this group of talent can help you get to work faster, which benefits both the talent and internal managers.
Consider building a candidate database where talent can receive information about upcoming projects, FAQs about working with your company, or a forum where they can talk to other independents in the group. Nurture this group of talent by regularly communicating with them, creating custom events, or encouraging them to work with one another. Providing a platform where they can collaborate with your company and with one another can help you keep talent engaged and ready for future work.
5. Respect their Work
Independents want to work with clients who respect what they do—95% say that valuing their work is the single most important factor in deciding who they work for. This is a simple ask that can be easily overlooked.
Encourage managers to give independents credit when deserved, perhaps at a group meeting in a company newsletter, or through the company’s social media. Just as managers would do for an employee, try to provide individualized feedback to independents as well as the project team they are a part of. This will help to build stronger relationships and increase motivation.