contractor working remotely

Contractors Are People Too: How to Enhance the Experience of Company Culture Beyond Full-Time, In-House Employees

More and more smart companies are realizing there’s a lot of talent to mine outside the confines of full-time, in-house employment. And it’s easier than ever to leverage that talent, thanks to the collaboration tools that help people maintain seamless communication, wherever they are.

But humans are social animals and one of the unique challenges of using freelancers or contractors is their isolation. For many companies, out of sight often means out of mind – an approach that’s guaranteed to discourage any kind of long-term relationship.

So how can you better manage employee engagement with these kinds of workers?

Conduct a Proper Onboarding

A crucial stage for any employee, onboarding is where new hires get familiar with the people and processes they’ll be working with. Help contractors hit the ground running with a thought-out onboarding process.

How you welcome part-time or remote employees is a reflection of your culture. And because remote workers aren’t often in the office (if at all), it’s even more important to make sure that they are getting the same messages about who you are and how they fit in as your full-time employees.

  • How does your company welcome new remote or part-time employees?
  • Does your company culture include them from the get-go?

Foster Open Communication

Any business needs the commitment and participation of all of its employees, regardless of their status or title. Open communication is a vital component of a healthy company culture, allowing ideas to be shared and helping to make employees feel included.

Having good lines of communication and a culture open to receiving feedback is crucial for bringing on remote employees. Make sure your company is clear about expectations, so that your remote workers have the best chance possible of becoming successful contributors.

  • How does your company handle feedback?
  • Are employee contributions valued?

Keep Them In the Loop

Being a remote employee can be an isolating experience. You’re on your own a lot, interacting with your team via messenger or conference tools. And while you might be getting the occasional company newsletter, it’s just not the same thing as being in the office.

Help remote employees feel more connected by regularly sharing news and events. For trainings or events remote workers can’t attend in person, make sure managers are forwarding relevant notes and documents.

  • How does your company include remote workers in company happenings?
  • Does your culture promote regular news sharing?

Plan Ahead for Special Events

Have a conference or specific training coming up that requires your remote employees to attend in person? Plan ahead so you can make arrangements for them to be there. It’ll make it easier to have everyone in one place, plus the in-person collaboration will help boost team bonding.

A focus on team building shouldn’t be reserved for special occasions, though. Your company culture needs to promote team collaboration on a regular basis. There are many creative and fun ways to encourage your teams to bond.

  • How does your company prepare for special events?
  • Does your culture promote team building?

Eat Lunch Together

Making time for regular lunch dates with your team is an easy way to connect. It naturally fosters friendships and can actually help boost productivity. So how do you include remote employees who are hardly in the office in this team-building ritual?

One way is to make sure team lunch happens on the rare days they’re in the office. For the rest of the year, try a video conference equivalent. It might feel funny to eat lunch in front of a camera at first, but the initial awkwardness will be worth making them feel part of the team.

  • Does your company culture promote team lunches?

The Bottom Line

A great company culture keeps everyone – no matter their status or role – involved, motivated and excited. It can help you manage employee engagement and retain top employees. And it’s vital if you want to successfully leverage the enormous pool of talent to be found outside of full-time, in-house employment.

So take a closer look at how you welcome remote and part-time employees into your organization. Identify the gaps, pinpoint where they might fall through, and smooth out their experience. Because making them feel as important as full-timers is worth it for your bottom line.

Want help creating a clear action plan for onboarding new hires? Set the right tone for a high level of engagement with The New Hire Onboarding Checklist.