If yours is like most forward-thinking food & beverage companies, you are integrating contract employees with direct staff to maximize resources and meet project objectives. But are you getting the best results from your contract staff?
To get the most from your contract personnel, you must understand their motivations and develop a culture in which they can succeed. Here are a few best practices to help you successfully manage these valuable contingent resources:
Use Them Only When Appropriate.
Before you begin searching for a contract employee, ask yourself:
- Is the assignment well-defined, with a tight deadline and a measurable end point?
- Does it require special expertise?
- Is it a “one time only” assignment? (as opposed to repeatable work)
- Do time or money considerations preclude you from hiring a direct employee?
If you answered “yes” to the questions applicable to your circumstances, you probably have a project well-suited for a contract employee.
Prepare Direct Employees.
Your direct staff may not know what to expect from contractors, or they may have misperceptions about them. To ensure that the two groups work well together:
- Define the roles of both contractors and direct staff. Show the value that each brings to the table.
- Assure direct employees that contractors do not pose a threat. Instead, let them know that contractors’ skills complement their own and improve the chances of project success.
- Cultivate working relationships between contract and direct staff, to encourage idea-sharing and develop rapport.
Lack of communication is often the greatest obstacle to successful working relationships with contract employees. At each stage of their assignments, use the following suggestions to stay informed and ensure contractors won’t feel isolated:
- Beginning of assignment. Orient new contract employees by explaining the parameters of the job, outlining “big picture” impact of the project, and introducing them to the rest of the project team.
- During the assignment. Throughout the project, involve contract employees in relevant meetings, include them in team memos and e-mails, ask for their opinions and ideas, and remember them when you celebrate project milestones.
- End of assignment. Hold a debriefing session to ensure objectives were met, gather necessary documentation, and discuss issues that may arise in the future.