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The importance of onboarding contractors

Bruce Mars 0 X3a7 Dp2oo Unsplash

​Staff surveys frequently note that the induction and onboarding process is vital towards determining organisation culture expectations as well for new starters. As a result, many organisations have established effective staff on-boarding and induction programmes to ensure success for new permanent hires.

What about onboarding contractors?

While such programmes may exist for permanent hires, access to such on-boarding processes is not often extended to the contingent workforce. This is especially evident in the IT contractor world where contractors are hired for their specific expertise. In many cases, their expertise is required only for a relatively short period and as such, businesses do not believe that they need to invest in inducting, and accelerating the cultural assimilation of these contractors into their organisations. This is actually wrong and a false economy.

Why should you spend time onboarding a contractor?

Our anecdotal evidence, as well as my personal experience, has shown that dissatisfaction by managers with IT contractors is not generally due to the workers’ skills or the sourcing, hiring and screening processes, but more so to do with the lack of or speed of their cultural assimilation and integration into teams.

I believe it is incumbent to extend your permanent hire on-boarding processes to your contracted workforce as well 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 as contractors, in some cases, spending days getting the right tools of trade, security clearance, access and being set up for their time approval processes. Contractors in return suffer from a lack of effective guidance and their lead-time to full productivity on a site is protracted as a result.

How should a contractor be onboarded?

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 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. Issue escalation and resolution processes should also be shown. 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. However, if you are a contractor it is also important that you yourself reach out, actively participate and encourage this 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.