The Winning Strategy to Contract Employee Management & Retention

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Posted by Jody Rummel

April 14, 2016

man_crossing_finish_line_Yoh_blog.jpgHow many times have you seen it?  A staffing company finds the perfect candidate, negotiates the terms and ultimately places the candidate, only to have that same contract employee leave for another opportunity a few weeks later. But, what if I told you that this all too familiar scenario could easily be avoided?

When working with dozens, or even hundreds, of contract employees, knowing when each individual comes on and off of an assignment requires a dedicated staff. Many organizations opt to utilize a third-party staffing company to supplement contingent labor to reduce time and cost management.  

In the scenario outlined above, both parties invest time and resources, to train the contract employee and to help them acclimate to their new work environment. When the contractor leaves, the “backfill” not only creates a hole in their staffing, but it also sets the productivity ramp back. And, like a hamster in a wheel, the client will again be forced to invest time and resources to re-train and re-start the new candidate.

There are many ways to mitigate the risk of this scenario playing out. To start, the staffing agency must prioritize the care and retention of contract employees.  If you are currently working with a staffing agency it’s important to understand what proactive steps they are taking to engage and properly manage their contract labor. Consider that these individuals will ultimately be deployed in your place of business, and that you’ll want to leave nothing to chance.

With this in mind, here are some areas to assess in order to achieve the “winning formula” for contract employee retention.


Nail the First Impression

Start the “caring” process at the onset of the relationship. The first interaction you have with the candidate sets the tone for how they will perceive you and your organization as they move through the process.  Treat the candidate with dignity and respect, and do not take them for granted.


Simplify On-Boarding 

Make the onboarding process as painless as possible.  There is nothing worse than having to complete hundreds of new hire documents, most of which wind up being irrelevant or unnecessary.  Be sure to have resources dedicated to facilitating onboarding efficiently and effectively and handle onboarding questions, if they should arise.


Actively Engage

When the contract employee starts in their new role, follow up with them to see how they are doing.  This will help to proactively get in front of any potential problems so that the problem does not become larger, ultimately leading to the contract employee’s departure.  These touch points should be regular and ongoing throughout the duration of the employment assignment.

If the contract employee leaves a voice message or sends an email with an inquiry, respond to it!  If the contract employee does not feel they have a person who can assist them, this will negatively impact their job performance and is a common trigger that starts the search for a new opportunity.


Bonus Engagement Tips for Staffing Companies

You must make the contract employee feel that they are part of something bigger.  From the perspective of a staffing company, it is easy for a contract employee to feel more connected with the client or hiring organization than their employer of record.  Ultimately, it is the staffing company that is responsible for engaging and managing relationships with contingent labor. Campaigns such as contract employee newsletters, contract employees of the month, and participation in ongoing training and development activities are all extremely effective for achieving this fundamental goal.

The employer of record (staffing company) must engage with the employee post-placement as well.  This should include regular phone calls and email touch points in order to maintain a proactive dialogue.  I recently wrote a piece for the Staffing Industry Analysts that covered the plethora of benefits that stem from this type of effort, but as it directly relates to engagement and retention, the bottom line is, the contract employee must feel a connection.  If there is no connection, there is no commitment!


This aspect of contingent staffing is often a neglected component to the overall success of the contract employee. Once it becomes a priority and becomes part of the way you do business, you will see higher levels of performance from your contingent labor, a decrease in turnover prior to assignment completion and a long lasting employer/employee relationship between the contract employee and the staffing company.   

Both the hiring organization and staffing company can take proactive steps to minimize employee turnover. Consider how contingent labor engagement is tied to your business processes, and how by creating sound solutions you can positively impact contractor performance. 

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Jody Rummel proudly serves as the Vice President of Human Resources for Yoh. As such, Jody is responsible for overseeing all aspects of HR for Yoh. Prior to joining the team, Jody was the Vice President of Human Resources & Staffing Operations for CDI Corporation. He has previously held senior HR roles at StaffLogix/CorTech, Snelling Services and Alliance Data Systems, and brings over 16 years of experience in staffing and outsourced services. 

Topics: Contingent Workforce Management, Employee Retention

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