Many organizations today have talent needs for seasonal or project work, while others find that fluctuating business demands require a flexible, on-demand workforce. Independent contractors can be an excellent solution to both challenges. But the savviest businesses don’t simply hire contingent laborers as needed – they take measures to learn the value of those workers, identify how to best deploy them and then build a comprehensive contractor strategy that optimizes their skill sets and availability. Part of that process includes regular evaluation of a company’s strategy and looks to build contractor relationships.
The Importance of Evaluating Contractor Relationships
Most organizations that employ independent contractors already keenly understand what contingent labor brings to the table: virtually instant access to specialized, high-quality expertise. A contractor’s terms of engagement – as needed, and without the commitment and administrative overhead associated with permanent employees – help make for an affordable, flexible contingent workforce. But taking a plug-and-chug approach to contractor hiring, while possible, sells short the benefits this talent pool can deliver.
Any company that employs (or is considering employing) contingent laborers would do well to follow these basic steps toward making the most of that workforce:
- Conduct a full-scale assessment of short- and long-term production needs, workflow projections, and staffing estimations
- Create and curate an in-house network of trusted contractors with proprietary knowledge of your business
- Engage a third-party hiring agency or talent cloud, such as PeopleCaddie, to recruit additional experienced, high-quality contractors
From there, consider quarterly, annual and/or end-of-term relationship evaluations with all of your independent contractors – even those you plan not to use again or who are believed to be underperformers. Sometimes they can tell you more about your business – and specifically about pain points in the employer-contractor connection – than your best contractors can.
End-of-term relationship evaluations may be the most valuable of all. A worker who has fulfilled their contract with a company will still have fresh thoughts about their employer and potentially fewer inhibitions about full transparency in a post-employment interview. They likely also will have begun or just completed the process of finding their next contract, a period during which they’re thinking critically about what they want to get out of their contractor engagements.
Questions to Ask Contractors as Part of Evaluations
So you’ve scheduled meetings with each of your independent contractors to discuss their relationships with your company. What now? Is there a standard line of questioning for each? And what do you do with all that feedback once you’ve gathered it?
Simplify your approach to independent contractor relationship evaluations as much as possible. Codify certain questions about the company, separate departments and a contractor’s specific role. Spend a little time with each contractor’s supervisor to develop a few unique questions – these can lead to key insights. Be sure to ask every contractor at the end of the conversation if they would like to discuss anything they weren’t asked about or have anything further to add. The content of questions could cover (but need not be limited to) an employee’s performance, professional aspirations, morale and more.
Compare feedback from standard (and similar) questions and home in on common themes and details. Closely examine and discuss feedback from the individually customized questions. Gather leadership and supervisors to discuss broad findings, then discuss the disparate finer points of contractor feedback individually with supervisors.
There’s no single step-by-step approach to evaluating contractor relationships, but every company can benefit from developing their own best practices. Investing time and organizing resources to ensure a robust and regular evaluation process can lead to better decisions about the contractors you hire, stronger retention rates and more productivity over time.
PeopleCaddie can help your organization develop more relationships with contractors.