Successfully Integrate Your Contract Staff
Numerous New England firms are continuing to turn to contractors to meet their staffing needs. Lingering economic uncertainty and rising costs associated with permanent employment leave many companies hesitant to commit to hiring permanent staff. If you are among this group of firms, here are some tips to successfully integrate your contract staff with your permanent employees and get the most for your contract staffing dollar:
- Set expectations. On the first day, discuss the contractors’ objectives and responsibilities along with your expectations regarding work hours, deliverables, and milestones. Provide a tour of the facility and provide any information that will make navigating your company easier (parking, cafeteria, etc.).
- Explain the “Big Picture”. Tell them how their role on the project fits into the overall project scope. Make sure they understand how success in their piece of the project translates to the project team achieving its goals. With some context and perspective, contractors will come up to speed and begin making meaningful contributions quickly.
- Introduce contractors to the team. A brief introduction to the team, mentioning the contractors’ background and outlining their project role, is a great way to get things started. Explain their expertise and how they’ll be helping the team, so team members will know what to expect. Equally important, make sure the contractors are aware of the roles, responsibilities and areas of expertise of other team members. This will foster teamwork, open communications, and keep you from having to field questions capably handled by others.
- Treat contractors as valuable contributors. Many technical contractors are capable of being major contributors on high profile, business-critical projects. Let them know that you value their contributions by including them as much as possible in team/company activities. Including them in project meetings, team lunches, birthday celebrations, etc. will help establish a solid connection with the team.
- Ask for input. Today’s contractors are technically savvy with a wide variety of experiences in a multitude of companies, industries and operational environments. They may have unique perspectives on issues you’re currently facing, and may very well have solutions your permanent staff haven’t yet seen.
- Mention the possibility of permanent employment. Of course, only if this possibility really exists! Some contractors don’t have a desire to become permanent employees, preferring instead the challenges of varied projects with different companies. However, others might love to become permanent employees of your firm, and letting them know early that this is a possibility will ensure you get their most enthusiastic and best efforts.
Clearly, when you hire contractors you want them to stay for the duration of the project. You’ve invested time and energy just getting to their start date, and an unexpected resignation in the middle of the project could jeopardize your timeline. If you foster an environment in which contractors feel like valued contributors and have a real sense of shared ownership in the final outcome of the project, you’ll be well on your way to a very productive contract engagement.