In an era when contracting is perhaps the ‘new normal’ for many professionals, HR teams face the challenge of managing a workforce made up of a significant number of  individuals who are unlikely to stay on board for a lengthy period. However, while these professionals have chosen this flexible career route, they do still have similar drivers to permanent members of the organisation.

In fact, it could be argued that it is just as – if not more – important for a business to engage with this audience as it is to develop retention strategies for permanent professionals. Considering that the percentage of contracting staff in the workforce is increasing – with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation reporting a 20% increase in temporary workers between 2008 and 2014 –  organisations need to ensure these professionals want to work with them, both now and in the future. Simply getting a contractor on board for immediate projects is no longer the only priority – businesses must ensure these individuals want to return again should a new opportunity arise. Often it is HR teams that will bear much of the responsibility for this.

Talent managers now need to extend their people strategies to ensure contractors also view the company as a hirer of choice and have a positive experience when working within the business. However, while this may sound daunting, it may actually be easier than initial perceptions suggest.

So how can organisations motivate this audience?

It can be argued that contractors want access to HR support, similar to the permanent workforce, to not only support them in their role, but also help them to feel a real member of the team. For example, in a recent survey of over 160 contractors, we found 87% of these professionals would like access to a personal portal. This is something that needs to be handled sensitively by hirers to ensure contractors feel valued without risking them crossing the line and being deemed employees.  If applicable, HR teams could consider giving temporary staff access to some areas of the company’s portal to ensure they can operate efficiently and feel a part of the company, not just a temporary addition.

The same can also be said for the on-boarding or welcome process. Where appropriate, HR teams should provide contractors with a suitable introduction to the business to enable them to sufficiently transition into their role. This may include meeting the senior team, being advised on corporate procedures and an introduction to the messaging of the brand. Depending on the circumstances, without access to this, professionals may struggle to operate with the rest of the team and in line with the brand’s messaging. Indeed, contractors themselves recognise the importance of this, with our survey revealing that 87% would like access to a good on-boarding process.

It’s also important to consider that contractors themselves want as great an access to benefits as possible. Indeed, we found that 64% of these professionals want access to a benefits programme, with the most sought after including medical insurance, a discounted gym membership and critical illness cover. To avoid employment risk, hirers should ensure their contractors are employed by a Professional Employer Organisation who is their employer of record for employment, tax and insurance purposes and can provide these benefits rather than the hirer. At giant we offer giant advantage our exclusive employee discount and reward scheme, with deals at top retailers and an optional healthcare and personal pension plan.

It’s clear from the results of this survey that contractors want access to a more holistic engagement package in order to be more effective in managing their own careers. These professionals have the technical expertise to deliver against the key objectives of hirers and understandably want to focus their time on delivering the specialist services they are known for. HR teams, then, need to build contractor support into their people strategies to not only aid the attraction of these professionals, but also allow them to do the best job possible.