Want the best from contractors? Include them in the onboarding process

Want the best from contractors? Include them in the onboarding process

While a comprehensive onboarding program is the norm for many full time positions, it amazes me how few organisations extend this induction process to their temporary or contingent workforce. 

The lack of onboarding is especially evident in the digital and tech contracting world where contractors are often hired just for their skills.

In many cases, their expertise is required only for a relatively short period of time and, as such, businesses often don’t see the value in inducting these contractors into their organisations. In my opinion, this is wrong and a false economy. Not integrating contractors into the organisation can cause unnecessary delays and, in some cases, compromise the overall success of a project’s execution.

Why should you spend time onboarding a contractor?

Our anecdotal evidence, as well as my personal experience, has shown that a manager’s dissatisfaction with tech contractors is not generally linked to the worker’s skills. Often it is to do with the lack of or speed of their assimilation and integration into operations and the corporate culture.

I believe it is incumbent to extend your permanent hire on-boarding processes to your contracted workforce to ensure success. Failure to do so means that as a hiring manager you will spend an inordinate amount of time navigating such hires through introductory training and the basic company HR processes as well as other administration tasks.

Another reason is that the return-on-investment of these resources is significantly diminished when contractors are forced to spend days getting the right tools of the trade, security clearance, access and being set up for their time approval processes. Contractors in return suffer from a lack of effective guidance and the lead-time to full productivity is protracted as a result.

How should a contractor be on-boarded?

While you are fundamentally responsible for ensuring that full productivity occurs, it is also partially the accountability of the contractor to effectively participate in the socialisation stage of their onboarding.

To help with on-boarding you and your team need to reinforce the company’s mission, vision and values, which will help integrate the contractor into the organisation and in turn help to increase their level of contribution.

To expedite this process, you need to start the contractor onboarding as early as possible in the recruitment process. These include, but are not limited to, pre-commencement items such as facility and system access; provision of tools of the trade; and completion of the necessary HR and other documentation.

Post-commencement role-specific information should be readily available including relevant policies, procedures and guidelines. You may also want to include issue escalation and resolution processes.

The suggestions above will help to provide key insights for prospective contractors and help you as a hiring manager to prepare to become fully operational as quickly as possible.

My advice to contractors is to always reach out, actively participate and encourage the induction process.

I welcome your suggestions and experiences on how you have on-boarded contractors, or if you are a contractor, how you may have been successfully on-boarded into a contract.


Abinesh Krishan