Contingent workers have long played a vital role in the success of tech companies, but reports of poor treatment of contract workers have recently been highlighted in the news. Here are the four best practices for tech firms managing a contingent workforce.

In February, Bloomberg News reported that contract workers for Apple faced some less-than-ideal working conditions. Workers hired for contracts that lasted 12-15 months said they felt like they were often under threat of termination, in addition to other complaints.

Google has come under fire from its contract workers, as many of them have complained about being excluded from important meetings. Following these disclosures were the recent walkouts and the April 2018 shooting at the headquarters at YouTube — a subsidiary of Google. Those exclusions occurred even though those contractors outnumber “regular” Google employees.

Contingent Workforce Management

Looking at these issues with two tech giants shows that the industry’s contingent workforce strategies need some work. With the continued need for skilled contingent labor in the tech industry, workers can be selective in their job choices.

Now is the time for firms to look more closely at their contingent workforce management guidelines.

If you’re ready to reshape or make a few improvements in your company’s relationship with contract workers, here are four contingent workforce management best practices you can implement:

1. Dress their desks for success.

Research confirms the importance of suitable working environments in our ability to effectively do our jobs. The state of an employee’s workspace can dramatically impact his or her productivity, emotional state, and perception of co-workers.

Most managers are aware that the office environment and working spaces have vital importance for well being when it comes to their regular employees. Many companies forget this fact when in contact with their contingent workforce. If you want all of your workers to be productive and feel at home, don’t let their desks or other workspaces seem like an afterthought.

Make gig-workers, freelancer (your contingent workers) feel like they’re a part of your team. Provide an organized work area that’s stocked with the tools they need. Perhaps throw in some supplies with the company’s logo. Contingency workers want free logo t-shirts too. Show these workers their importance by setting them up for success.

2. Help with quick connections.

You’ve likely experienced the anxiety of meeting everyone during the first week at a new job. A manager or HR member probably eased that anxiety by introducing you to your new team so you’d feel comfortable.

Imagine if you didn’t have that help. You don’t want contingent workers feeling like they don’t belong. Failure to establish supportive relationships can slow the process of contingent workers getting to work quickly and ramping up productivity right away.

Make those connections for your contingent workers. Have someone in their department or HR introduce them to their team members. If you have remote workers, use video conferencing to help them get to know the team. You probably already have onboarding protocols for your employees that could easily be applied to contract labor. The more quickly you help them connect, the more ready they will be to contribute to the company.

3. Invite them to meetings.

It might seem inefficient to include your contract workers in office meetings. You may feel that inclusion in the meetings takes them away from the job you hired them to do. But consider the value of meetings for the rest of your team and the contingent worker.

In meetings, contingent workers can see how their projects and contributions connect to those of the rest of the team. They learn how their work ties into the project they’re working on, and they get a chance to provide input. Being included as part of the regular office interactions in meetings fosters understanding and cohesiveness across the entire organization.

4. Increase their involvement.

The same logic applies beyond in-house meetings. Consider opportunities to include your temp hires in networking events, charitable causes, and conferences.

These events can prove to be mutually beneficial for the contractor and your company. At a local networking event, we brought along a short-term hire to provide some sales support. Because this person was looking for full-time work in HR, the worker was happy to go along and network.

And it paid off for both of us. That contingent worker connected us to a prospect that is now worth $1 million in revenue, and the worker landed a full-time job. To top it off, the company this person works for might be using our services in the future.

So start including your contract workers in meetings, lunches, and other outings. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Gig workers are vital to the success of many companies.

Though your freelancers, gig-workers and contingency workers account for only 16% of the workers in these companies — there are firmly established policies for managing these workers. Let these workers interact with your team and on your Slack — or similar channels. Remember their birthdays and holidays, just as you do with your regular team members.

Conclusion:

A little planning for these contingent workers can go a long way. By helping them feel welcome and incorporating them into the team, you can improve their well-being and help them assimilate more quickly. Providing for the mental well-being of these workers helps them be more productive and contribute to your organization more quickly.

Kara Hertzog

Chief Operating Officer of Innovative Employee Solutions (IES)

Kara Hertzog is Chief Operating Officer of Innovative Employee Solutions (IES), a leading nationwide provider of contingent workforce solutions, specializing in Payrolling and Independent Contractor Compliance services. Founded in 1974 in San Diego, IES has grown into one of the city's largest women-owned businesses and has been named one of the city's "Best Places to Work" for more than 10 years in a row.