Effective Onboarding Strategies for Contract Workers

8 min

Contract work is growing in popularity. The flexibility, experience, skills and short-term support that contract workers bring without needing fixed-term contracts has many business benefits. With the number of contractors on the rise, businesses can fill these gaps through contract recruitment. But the hiring process doesn’t stop with simply finding the right contractor and placing them into a role.  

The onboarding process is often overlooked when recruiting contract workers, especially those with previous industry-relevant experience. It is, in fact,  one of the most critical aspects of the hiring and employment process. 

Most businesses devote time and resources to improving onboarding strategies for permanent employees while failing to invest in contract workers. Despite their typically short contracts, it is essential to business functions that any employee employed, regardless of their contract status, is onboarded effectively. 

This guide will delve into the importance of implementing well-structured onboarding processes and provide you with our top strategies to integrate contract workers into your business seamlessly. 

Why Invest In Onboarding Strategies for Temporary Workers?

To develop an effective onboarding strategy for contract workers, you need to understand the importance of contractor onboarding fully. A successful onboarding strategy echos the nature of your business. If your onboarding strategy is well-organised and detailed, the relationship between hired contract workers and your business is more likely to be productive. 

The onboarding process can be one of the most challenging aspects of employment for the employee if not carried out correctly. Contract employees entering an unfamiliar environment and being met with an unstructured, unwelcoming onboarding environment can create a negative workplace culture. Continued lack of organisation can lead to severe problems in business hiring.

With up to 91% of businesses facing challenges hiring qualified professionals, hiring habits are changing. The consistent hiring of contract workers is becoming a popular way of bridging this gap. It has never been more important to perfect a personalised onboarding strategy for contract workers to support consistent business development. 

How Do Onboarding Strategies Affect Business Activity?

It's common to question the significance of investing time and resources in developing your contract onboarding process. Contradictory to this misconception that onboarding strategies only benefit the contract workers themselves, perfecting or streamlining this process can provide numerous advantages for organisations. 

Enhanced Success Rates:

If the onboarding process is slow, unorganised and full of missing information, especially with short-term contracts, the majority of time will be spent wrestling with uncertainties. Instead of utilising their skills in project progression, contract workers may find themselves confused and lacking essential information. 

In contrast, elevating contract onboarding strategies can increase working success rates. When contract workers are integrated well into the organisation, they better understand goals and priorities, creating a more productive working environment that contributes to successful project outcomes. 

Positive Business Reputation:

Image is vital for any business, and with word of mouth accelerated by the internet, word travels quickly and reaches a broad audience. With the existence and use of review websites, social media platforms and contractor group pages.

Your reputation on these platforms echos your employees' attitudes, temporary or permanent. Negative reviews from fellow contractors commenting on a business’s lack of structure during onboarding can prevent potential candidates from considering employment. 

A well-structured and crafted onboarding process benefits your business's internal operations and continuously contributes to building a positive business reputation. Contractors who experience a smooth onboarding process and a friendly working environment will likely view the organisation positively, enhancing the businesses’ overall image. 

Accelerated Business Processes:

Establishing an effective contract recruitment and onboarding process can lead to faster project starts where a contract worker will understand business processes. Clearly communicating priorities and goals during the onboarding phase allows contract workers to quickly become fully engaged.

Contract workers are skilled and experienced individuals your business employs to contribute to development. Failing to invest in or prioritise onboarding strategies can lead to a large amount of their time becoming familiar with business activities. 

Our Top Strategies To Maximise Onboarding Success

So far, our guide has illustrated how a well-thought-out plan can positively affect business activity and improve organisational reputation. But what are these strategies, and how are they implemented correctly to ensure a successful orientation and employment period? 

As contract hiring rises, more employers are following the 5 C’s of strategic onboarding. These include compliance, clarification, culture, connections, and check back, and they are critical to successfully onboarding contract workers. 

In this section of our guide, we take an in-depth look at these strategies, along with what they entail and how to successfully enforce them during the employment of contract workers. 

Get Organised (Compliance)

Effective contractor onboarding strategies prioritise organisation. Despite the diverse skills that these qualified professionals bring to their roles, the potential of these skills may go unexplored if their employment is not coordinated correctly due to its often limited nature.

The prioritisation of organisation leads to a better-structured working environment, enhancing the seamless integration of contractors, optimising their contributions, and encouraging more efficient and productive collaboration within the team.

Signing and Processing Essential Documentation 

Being organised during onboarding begins with ensuring all legal documents, company procedures, and regulatory requirements are presented and signed before employment commences. This is to ensure seamless integration into the organisational framework, avoiding any issues and reducing the likelihood of interruption during employment.

Several vital documents are crucial in this phase, including tax documents, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), and company contracts. These documents, personalised to the organisation's specific needs, must be reviewed and signed early on to establish a clear starting point for contract workers. 

The onboarding process includes collecting payment details and additional contact information to ensure all legal formalities are covered. This approach helps create a structured framework for the contract worker to operate confidently.

Due to their short contracts, contractors' needs in terms of benefits and tax differ immensely from those of permanent employees. Staying up-to-date on contract recruitment regulations will enable organisations in this area. 

Understanding Additional Needs

Each employee, including contract workers, has unique working and learning preferences. Contract workers, in particular, present a higher level of autonomy than permanent employees, leading to distinct expectations from a business. The ability to select jobs that align with their specific working requirements and learning approaches is heightened for contract workers. Without acknowledging and encouraging these differences, the success of a contractor onboarding process is likely to be restricted. Organisations that embrace and support different learning styles are more attractive to contract workers.

While additional needs should have been discussed during the hiring period, a survey on different requirements, preferred learning methods, and any extra needs within the workplace should be distributed to cater to individual needs and preferences. This measure enables the organisation to tailor the onboarding experience, ensuring that the contract worker's specific needs and preferences are considered. 

By providing this information to contract workers well before their start date, they can review and absorb the details without feeling overwhelmed on their first day. This onboarding strategy sets the tone for a positive and productive working relationship from the very beginning. Contract workers who feel supported are up to 64% more likely to engage with the position. 

Creating a Welcome Pack

To enable a smooth transition, a complete list or document that contains 'everything you need to know' is prepared. This typically includes:

  • A welcome message to encourage positive relationships
  • Business missions and goals to provide background information on the organisation
  • Information about the company location, including parking and security policies
  • A list of organisation employees that includes names and job roles for effective working relationships 
  • Contact details for all individuals the contract worker will be coordinating with to encourage communication
  • Portal logins 
  • Tutorials for navigating workplace computer systems
  • Health and safety policies

Communication is essential in any working relationship, and communication details and rules are outlined to ensure effective collaboration. Providing general information about the company offers valuable context, giving contract workers a deeper understanding of its background and the broader context of the work they will be undertaking. 

Making a Habit Out of Onboarding Checklists 

Contractor onboarding differs from permanent employee onboarding, mainly due to the strict timeframes that contract hiring requires. To maximise working time, contract workers need more simplified information relevant to their job role. Though this information is less than a permanent employee would receive during onboarding, it is essential to cover the specific areas fully. 

To enable ultimate organisation within this process, checklists should be used during the onboarding of all contractors, regardless of their contract length. 

To create your business onboarding checklist, the following questions should be answered to ensure all areas are covered comprehensively. 

  • Have you received all of the contractor’s information? This may include phone numbers, addresses and any other contact information or documentation related to tax and insurance. 
  • Have you provided the contractor with all of the necessary internal information? This may include usernames and passwords, system tutorials and a contact sheet for their department. 
  • Have you made positive introductions between the contractor and other staff in their department? Encouraging these relationships will enable more detailed communication between staff and contractors regarding projects and tasks. 

Covering all of these areas fully will encourage a smoother and quicker integration into the workforce. 

Be Open and Honest Regarding Your Expectations (Clarification)

Contract employees, like permanent staff, are hired to aid an organisation in specific areas. This includes carrying out all responsibilities stated before the period of employment commences. 

While contract professionals can supply a business with various skills, and it may be tempting to increase their workload beyond what was initially agreed upon to improve business activity, organisation and clarification are key. Most contract staff are employed temporarily, leaving them only a short time to complete projects and carry out their responsibilities.

The onboarding process can be overwhelming for contract workers, especially when faced with an increasing workload. To promote a healthy working environment and encourage a positive reputation surrounding contract hiring, ensure that you set clear expectations and that the contract can carry out these objectives. 

Open conversations about expectations should include topics surrounding:

  • Personal and business targets during the contractor’s period of employment
  • Work hours 
  • Deadlines
  • Full responsibilities 
  • Skills and potential training 

Any additional work should be discussed with the contractor before assigning extra tasks to prevent unnecessary stress. 

Reflect On Your Organisation (Culture)

Regardless of employment type, more potential employees are seeking a positive working environment. For contract workers, moving from employer to employer can be challenging without the added stress of functioning in a closed and negative atmosphere. Often, contract employees are seen as separate from the other employee base, limiting social interaction and collaboration. 

Typically, a contractor's network is vast. This means that information on negative working environments that fail to ensure the integration of temporary staff spreads quickly. Retaining and encouraging contract workers to work with your organisation largely depends on how comfortable the working environment is. 

Ensuring contract employees are experiencing positive cultural assimilation will encourage a better working environment and collaboration for all involved. Analysing your current workplace culture and confirming that communication, cooperation and appreciation are present enables you to create an atmosphere that attracts and retains contract workers. 

Build, Maintain and Nurture Positive Relationships (Connections)

A contract worker joining an already established workforce can be isolating. The lack of communication that this can cause throughout the organisation can affect the professional’s feelings and attitude towards work. Both can disrupt business activity and isolate your organisation from further contract hires. 

But how can you effectively ensure contract workers feel at ease and become part of a team? Essentially, the approach mirrors that used for other employees. However, it may be even more crucial to actively support social connections for contractors due to the need to collaborate on projects within a more compressed time frame. 

While permanent employees are given more time to settle into the working environment and create healthy working relationships, contract workers are often thrown into their tasks and not given the time to do this. Incorporating encouraging workplace relationships into your contractor onboarding strategies is vital to ensure contract workers are successful and comfortable in their roles. 

Examples of how to encourage these working relationships within a limited time frame include:

  • Making introductions while focusing on introductions between the contract worker and their team
  • Appointing a mentor or buddy to support the contract worker and give them a line of support
  • Holding team-building exercises early into employment to foster communication
  • Using inclusive communication channels where team members can collaborate and bond
  • Using shared workspaces with permanent employees to encourage interaction

Monitor and Check In Throughout Employment (Check Back)

A common misconception about employing contract workers is that they do not need as much support as other employees due to their short contracts. However, overlooking the need for ongoing monitoring and check-ins can prevent the seamless integration of contract workers into the team. 

Consistent check-ins throughout the employment period are crucial. Regular monitoring provides an opportunity to gauge the progress of contract workers, assess their comfort level within the team, and identify any challenges they may face. It is a positive approach to quickly address concerns, ensuring contract workers feel valued and supported within your organisation. 

Enforcing a consistent "Check Back" strategy where contract workers are continuously checked on throughout employment can contribute to a positive working relationship and maximising the contributions of contract workers, even within their shorter employment. 

Providing and listening to feedback has the potential to enhance the overall engagement of contract workers. Proving that your organisation can offer this level of support assists in building a positive reputation for contract recruitment.

Perfecting the Onboarding For Contract Workers: Final Thoughts 

Effective onboarding for contract workers is vital as the employment landscape evolves and contract work continues to gain popularity. Investing in these strategies for contract workers emerges as a best practice and an essential action for companies aiming to thrive in a changing environment. 

A well-structured onboarding process benefits both workers and businesses. It ensures higher success rates, a positive business reputation, and faster project starts. By staying connected with contract workers throughout their employment, businesses can encourage positive relationships and learn from onboarding analytics and feedback to refine and improve future onboarding processes.

An onboarding process will never instantly be perfect. This is why continuously monitoring and developing these strategies is the key to an effective onboarding strategy for contract workers. 

Elevating Your Contract Recruitment Process 

Whether you are an expert in contract recruitment, altering your hiring or entirely new for contract workers, our specialist consultants can help you. We are experts in contract recruitment within various industries and have successfully placed top contractor talent with leading organisations. 

Contact us today to discover how we can assist you in your contract hiring needs.