By Michelle M. Smith, CPIM, CRP                                            

Author · Speaker · Strategist  


Many global incentive and recognition programs are designed for our own employees, and the war for talent continues to rage, with 77% of CEOs concerned about talent/skills availability as a business threat, according to PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey.


But where do CEOs turn to find this valuable and elusive talent everyone else wants?


A New Source of Talent


40.4% of current U.S. workers are now temporary or contracted. This trend is growing 30% per year and is expected to reach 50% globally by 2025, so the numbers of these employees will continue to rise for several years.


Organisations are squandering an opportunity to optimize the performance of these contractors if they don’t fully engage temporary employees in their business


Rather than ignoring freelancers, or making them feel like second-class citizens, leaders would reap the benefits of higher productivity, employee engagement and improved performance if they were to include temps in employee engagement programs, wherever appropriate.


Inclusion Reaps Benefits


I’ve been encouraging leaders for some time now to include temporary and contracted workers in as many employee programs as possible. I’m convinced it would make a significant difference for organisations!


Including them in onboarding initiatives will help them have a better understanding of the organisation and its goals, and offers you the chance to welcome them and build on their enthusiasm for their new assignment. It’s also an ideal opportunity to familiarize them with your organisation’s policies in the areas of health, safety, equality and discrimination to prevent misunderstandings in these areas while in your workplace.


Having freelancers as active participants in length of service, recognition and incentive programs helps build teamwork, collaboration, engagement, and further insight into what, how and why some initiatives and behaviours produce greater results for the organisation.


Create Meaning in Everyone’s Work


Don’t neglect the opportunity to give contractors a sense of purpose and meaning in their work as well. Ensure they’re listened to when they give advice, make suggestions about operational matters, or when they raise concerns. Utilize the same initiatives for improving employee engagement with permanent employees as another way to ensure commitment, productivity and innovation among temporary workers.


Finally, providing feedback and helping temps develop new skills, interests, and knowledge while on assignment with you will help you maximize their contribution and will position your company as a great place to work for other contractors with exceptional skills who likely have their choice of organisations for whom to work.


What leader wouldn’t want that from every member of their team?!


The many benefits of engaged employees will be lost if temp workers aren’t given the same attention and care as permanent employees – being denied a full voice, cut off from the strategic narrative, not having the opportunity to develop relationships with managers and not being treated with the same integrity as other workers. Thankfully, that need not be the case.


Engagement is possible for contractors too when organisations put the effort in to get it right. An engaged contracted workforce will repay good treatment many times over in terms of productivity, innovation, reduced absenteeism, and greater retention – they may even want to work for you permanently!

Michelle M. Smith, CPIM, CRP is a highly accomplished international speaker, strategist, and author on performance improvement. She speaks and writes about what she knows first-hand – as a former leader of a Fortune 100 global conglomerate, and now as a researcher and strategist. Internationally renowned as a respected authority on leadership, workplace culture, talent and employee engagement, Michelle passionately shares new insights and tools for leaders to confidently, effectively and strategically lead their organisations to success.