The practice of onboarding an employee is fairly well-worn territory for many hiring managers, but as more companies turn to contract labor—in my experience, temporary or part-time employees retained through a recruiting agency—I’ve noticed hiring managers are not quite sure how to welcome contractors. Do you set them up like a visitor? They’re not a permanent placement, but they’re not exactly just passing through either.
There are many advantages of hiring contract workers. Maybe you’re thinking of a contractor as a stopgap—a placeholder until you’re able to sunset a project or fill an open role on your team. If the process of recruiting a contractor (and earmarking the budget for them) is worth your investment, so is setting them up for success. Especially when you consider that the consequences for not putting effort into their onboarding could mean that your contract team member is slower to ramp up or even less effective than their full-time counterparts.
That’s why my advice to companies bringing on a contractor or two is: Treat them like any other new employee.
Get the paperwork squared away. Just like with any other new hire, there’s a certain amount of administrative work that needs to be done before your contractor can start working. So, make sure any security, compliance or contract paperwork is tackled promptly. Fortunately, when you work with Lucas Group, our Contract Back-Office team can take point on all of this paperwork, along with coordinating things like background checks and timekeeping.
Welcome them to the team. This sounds like an obvious step, but too often I hear of contractors going relatively unknown in the companies they work for. They’re not quite full-time, permanent employees, so companies don’t roll out the welcome wagon. This only hampers their success. Introduce them to the people they’ll be working with. Welcome them to the team and encourage them to build relationships. The more comfortable your contractor feels working with your teams, the less work you’ll need to do in the long run making inroads for them.
Prepare their workspace. Make sure you have a designated work area for them and that any necessary equipment is set up. Help them hit the ground running on their first day. In many cases, you’ll be paying this contractor by the hour. Don’t waste any of that time waiting for IT to drop by on their first day—or worse, at some time during their first week—to drop off their computer or set up their phone.
Create an onboarding document. You’ve probably scoped the role as a part of your decision to hire a contractor, whether it’s supporting a special project or maintaining some body of work while you round out your team. Make sure that when your contractor starts, that scope—and any meaningful milestones—are documented, so that they have a clear picture of their success metrics. They probably won’t be going through your normal performance management cycles, so this is your opportunity to be very clear about how you’ll measure a job well done and outline any key deliverables.
Establish a plan to stay in touch with your recruiter. When you work with a recruiting team to hire a contractor, they take a lot of the heavy lifting off your plate, and they also become your contractor’s employer of record. So, if you want to extend or amend the contract, or even give performance feedback, you’ll be working with the recruiter to address these matters. Having a regular cadence of check-ins will help keep things on track.
It sounds simple, but there are so many things that can slip through the cracks when dealing with a contract employee. And I understand why. The employment terms for contract team members are different than your permanent team members, but you don’t want to make your contractor(s) feel excluded or ineffective because you didn’t follow a few steps to help them get started on the right foot.
What tips would you add to help contract team members be as successful as possible? How do you structure your contractors’ onboarding so you can get the most out of your investment in them? Leave a comment below.