Engage to Gain the Greatest Value
But one mistake companies make that prevents them from realizing the full value of contingent workers is failing to take steps to engage these individuals, or promote their commitment to the company and the business goals. The fact is, engaged workers who feel valued and part of a team are more likely to improve the bottom line, be more productive and recommend the workplace to others. Engaged contingent workers are also more likely to stay on board, agree to a repeat assignment and accept a permanent position should one become available.
Companies can take steps to help boost the engagement of their contingent workers. An initial key step is to partner with the employment services provider to help promote engagement, ensuring consistency and reinforcement, while limiting any co-employment concerns. Also, consider these three approaches:
1. Recognize motivational differences. Develop customized, flexible strategies for different segments of the contingent workforce. Think about:
• The nature of the job itself. What engages a professional IT consultant will be different from a factory worker.
• Differences in age. Individuals of different generations have very different expectations about the workplace and the meaning of engagement.
• Cultural factors. As the workforce globalizes, it’s more important than ever to recognize different cultural approaches to work.
• Personal goals. Workers with families, for instance, have very different objectives than those nearing retirement.
2. Make them part of the team. Successfully engaging contingent workers rests largely on integrating them into the workplace; for example:
• Improve orientation processes. At a minimum, communicate the mission, vision and values of the organization.
• Ensure that contingent workers have the tools and resources needed to be productive such as hardware, software and network access.
• Foster integration of contingent employees. Be sure managers understand the importance of engaging contingent staff, and encourage all employees to treat them as a valued part of the organization.
• Remove the unnecessary barriers that keep contingent workers from feeling like part of the team.
3. Promote career development. An ongoing program to improve the skills—and thus the value—of contingent workers will ultimately help the organization meet its business objectives. Quality employment services firms typically provide training programs, but consider additional on-the-job training like a mentor or buddy program. By demonstrating the willingness to develop talent across all employees, companies can build their capabilities and also their employer brand, allowing them to attract and retain top talent in the future.
As we emerge from the economic downturn and the extended period of downsizing, organizations face the harsh reality of decreased employee loyalty. If companies can develop the management processes required to keep their permanent and contingent workforce truly engaged and harness their potential, they have a real opportunity to create a workforce designed to meet their current and future business goals.
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Debra Clem is the executive vice president for Manpower of Lansing, Michigan Incorporated.