As more and more companies move toward a blended or optimized workforce—a combination of full-time employees and contractors—the need to attract and continue to engage high-value independent talent has become strategically significant. When an enterprise finds excellence in the workforce, whether in an employee or a contractor, it wants to retain it. How can an enterprise retain its valued independent talent?
Think “Worker Experience” Rather Than “Employee Experience”
Competition for top talent is brisk. Critical skills are in demand across all businesses, and many are available mainly through independent professionals. The work experience that high-value contractors seek is not all that different from the experience employees seek.
These are some of the elements of worker experience that apply to independents:
- Streamlined onboarding. Contractors are eager to get to work, so they value an efficient onboarding process that quickly gives them access to the proper resources and tools.
- Well-established communication channels. Like employees, contractors need established channels to send and receive information, ask questions, and connect with managers and team members.
- Proactive feedback. Contractors appreciate opportunities to offer feedback to their clients. You can benefit from input provided by someone from outside the company who can offer learnings from other engagements. Conversely, they often welcome feedback from you to learn more about your company, its procedures, and it culture.
- Respect for work-life balance. Work-life balance has become a prominent goal for employees and independents. For contractors, this can mean adhering to their standard business hours or flexibility around communications.
Translate Employee Retention Strategies
Many strategies you are executing to keep valued employees in the company can also work for contractors. For example:
- Fair compensation. Paying competitive rates is key to attracting and retaining high-value independents.
- Professional development opportunities. Successful independents are continuous learners who strive to keep pace with changes in their markets. Offering them opportunities for informal (e.g., mentoring) or formal (e.g., online courses) professional development can be very attractive.
- Appreciation and acknowledgment. While a formal reward system isn’t necessary, independent professionals value appreciation for the work they do. Take the time to thank your contractors, especially those who go the extra mile. Ensure they understand their contribution to the organization. And a written testimonial, directly by email or as a LinkedIn recommendation, can be of high value to an independent!
- Emphasis on teamwork. Whether the engagement is short-term or long-term, an independent values feeling part of a team. Even if the work they do is more solo than with others, it’s important to make sure your contractor feels included and understands how their efforts fit into a larger picture.
Become a Client of Choice
Gaining access to skills unavailable in full-time positions and successfully acquiring skills in short supply are two of the top reasons companies seek independent talent. As competition for these skills inevitably heats up, it is becoming more important than ever for an enterprise to become their Client of Choice.
Think about the strategies that work for keeping great full-time employees. Remember that independent professionals have options in terms of the clients they work with. When you find contractors with critical skills who fit your organization well, the right worker experience and retention strategies can contribute to your standing as a Client of Choice.