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Every company and every team leader wants high employee engagement. What if a significant portion of your employee base is comprised of contingent talent? Does employee engagement still matter?

We definitely think so. For instance, as a full-service staffing agency and project studio, we place talented marketing professionals in contract roles where they hold high impact positions such as digital and brand strategists, art directors, UX designers, product managers, copywriters, and more. All the studies show that Engaged employees lead to higher customer satisfaction, which leads to higher revenue and profits. If your company is increasing your usage of flexible talent, you need to consider how you can engage that talent to drive performance.

Here are seven ideas on how to make it happen:

1. Choose Your Staffing Agency Carefully.

Employee engagement happens at many stages throughout the candidate life cycle and what happens pre-hire is just as important as what happens post-hire. The Best Staffing agencies focus on creating exceptional candidate experiences at each step in the recruitment process. They have certified and trained recruiters who act as consultants and advisers. They recognize the importance of employee engagement with their own staff. Whether you’re exploring a new staffing relationship or you have an existing partnership, explore the degree to which the staffing agency focuses on employee engagement and candidate satisfaction.

Read: How to Hire and Retain Top Creative Talent in the Talent Shortage

2. Be Descriptive and Clear About the Job

One of the biggest dissatisfiers for temporary or contract employees is when their skills and knowledge are not matched well to the role. This mismatch can often be prevented entirely as long as the staffing firm thoroughly understands your requirements and can communicate that to job candidates. Contractors are there to make a difference and just like your full-time staff, when an employee knows they are meeting and exceeding goals and impacting company results, engagement will be high.

3. Communicate

Give contract talent the big picture. Help them connect their work to the team’s goals. Give them feedback, give them praise. Communicate with the staffing agency, too. The best agencies will be seeking your feedback on the contractor's performance and how well things are progressing. Take the time to share your thoughts. Things going great? Contractors love (see: need!) to hear that. Things need to be tweaked a bit? They want (see: need!) to know that, too. Communication is the lifeblood for employee engagement. 

Don’t forget that good communication is a two-way street, so make sure you’ve opened up the lines for communication for your contract staff to approach you as well. It builds trust and shows that you value their input. A best practice is to be proactive about seeking feedback from your external talent. If you don’t ask for input or invite them to participate in the feedback loop, you’ll be missing a key opportunity.

4. Recognize Achievements

Recognition builds engagement. Highlight positive outcomes, whether they’re big or small. Recognition motivates people and it gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment in their work. This is especially true for contractors.

Picture yourself as a contractor on your first day of work. You don’t know anyone else on the team yet, you’re expected to know what you’re doing and to be productive quickly. Doesn't that sound a little intimidating? Pave the way by informing your own staff about the new member of the team, their background, and what they’ll be expected to do. This knowledge will help your contract talent feel more welcome on their all-important first day.

5. Start off on the Right Foot

Speaking of preparation, provide a solid orientation for your contract talent. Make sure they have the tools they need to succeed. Give them a tour and introduce them to as many people as possible. The more comfortable they feel, the more productive and engaged they will be.

6. Bring them Back

The ultimate compliment for contract talent is to be asked back for another project with the same company. If a contractor excelled within your organization, let your staffing agency know and tell them you’d love to have that person back. If another assignment comes up, don’t hesitate to ask a proven performer to return. Not only will they feel valuable, they’re already oriented to your company and they’ll fit right back in.

Read: Why Employee Vs. Independent Contractor Classification Matters [infographic]

7. Consider the Possibilities

On the other hand, if a contractor does a great job, maybe you shouldn’t let them go at all! Most staffing agencies offer agreements where you’re able to hire a contractor onto your own staff. Remember to communicate this through your staffing agency for two important reasons:

  1. The agency might be considering them for another role at another client when they’re done working for you. If they know you’re considering hiring a contractor, that helps them manage their resources.
  2. The staffing agency can help both you and the contractor with negotiating and navigating the offer/hiring process.

Creating employee engagement with your flexible workforce can be challenging but with these seven quick and easy steps, it’s achievable. One consideration to remember is to work closely with your staffing agency to avoid the risk of co-employment. Temporary employees need to know that their agency is their employer-of-record and there are steps you can take to keep that distinction clear, while still building high employee engagement with your flexible talent.

You want to utilize a staffing agency. Now what?  Download this guide to help you find the staffing agency best suited to meet your hiring needs: 12 QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN CHOOSING A STAFFING AGENCY

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