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Over the past few years, the number of contractors being hired has increased. The reasons for this trend are plenty fold, but technology has a large role to play. Digital transformations are sweeping industries at an unprecedented speed, and as a result, business leaders like yourself require skilled, digitally astute employees “on demand” to manage such technological transitions on an ad-hoc basis.
Moreover, skilled contractors are a non-committal means of bridging these digital skills gaps in the context of both political and economic uncertainty. In conjunction, professionals who demand greater flexibility, autonomy and freedom from their jobs are embracing this new trend, with new digital platforms in the world of contract employment changing how people find work.
At present, and for the foreseeable future, there will continue to be a sea of skills-short businesses ready and willing to make an attractive offer to the talent available. If you want to compete for this talent, it is essential that you build your reputation for being the employer of choice for the skilled contractor. So how can you do this?
Contractors will be looking for roles which involve challenging but impressive projects; ones which allow them to hone and apply their specialist skills set, ones which, upon successful completion, will enhance their portfolio and therefore future employability. Thus, your first priority when creating a contracting role, should be defining the specific projects that the contractor will get started on, the objectives of these projects, and timeframes for completion. Please note, these timeframes must be carefully considered; no contractor wants to do a rush-job for an employer who hasn’t taken the time to consider the realistic deadlines for project completion.
In the interest of enhancing their future employability, contractors will also be attracted to roles which could expand their network of future contacts. Therefore ensure contractors will be given opportunities to gain new contacts both internally (through being introduced to people beyond your department) and externally (including them in relevant client meetings). The future work of a contractor will also rely heavily on recommendations, so cement your procedure for offering references to deserving contractors.
For the sake of your employer reputation, it is important that the contractor leaves their assignment with positive feedback about what you are like to work for as a business. This largely sits with how well you integrate your contractors into your team in the time that you have with them.
Before each contractor joins, brief existing employees on why this contractor is being hired, how long they will be with the company for, and the unique skills they can bring to the organization as well as to individual teams. Where applicable, clarify how employees are expected to work alongside the contractor and the ways in which their roles can intertwine.
Once the contractor joins, make proper introductions and if possible, ensure that they are seated with other employees. Keep communication open between yourself and the contractor, checking in regularly on their progress, workplace wellbeing and so forth. Ultimately, you want the candidate to walk away from their assignment feeling like they were made to feel welcome from day one, and part of a well-oiled machine.
Many contractors are attracted to the flexibility on offer from businesses, who provide the option to work from home, take on flexible hours etc. Therefore I would advise where possible that you adopt these flexible working patterns in order to compete with your counterparts. This could involve utilizing the technology available to you in order to allow remote access, or breaking the 9 to 5 culture in your office to suit the needs of the contractor.
While many contractors enjoy flexibility, the promise of future work can also be a draw. Everyone appreciates recognition for a job well done, and with economic uncertainty the new norm, the opportunity to come back for future projects if they perform well, can add layer of comfort and security which may mean they choose to take your project over another.
The best contractors are often in high demand, and are used to finding new assignments, so reducing your time to hire can help to ensure you competition doesn’t snap them up.
To put it simply, in the midst of increasing technological skills gaps and growing economic uncertainty – contractors are the perfect solution for businesses around the world. If you want to compete for this talent, you will need to consider the contractor’s criteria for an engaging opportunity and offer roles which can enhance their career prospects within a flexible, welcoming and cohesive environment. Roles which make the contractor want to return to your organization if asked. Roles which encourage positive feedback to their peers about the welcoming and inclusive culture of your organization.
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