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Onboarding a Contractor: Our Essential Tips

On04/ 07 /19

Getting your contractor on board smoothly and working well right from day one at your company can be one of the most crucial and challenging tasks you’ll have to perform as a business owner, manager or human resources director.

Creating a slick and scalable process can help you get the most from temporary and seasonal staff, as well as expert interim heads of departments or consultants.

Here are our five key areas to consider when preparing to take on a contractor.

1. Nail that job description

A well-written, well-considered job description can be an asset long after you have appointed your new temporary team member, and can provide the clarity needed should any questions be asked further down the line.

Have you also covered off what your company values are, and the personality attributes employees should have when getting the job done?

And, what’s the kind of culture you create and nurture at your organisation?

Giving a contractor a preconceived idea of how you work can really speed up the induction process, whilst it can also play a part in helping to ‘weed out’ any potential short-term staff who may not fit in.

An informative job description can also help to instantly address some of the day-to-day queries you’re likely to face from candidates, so for example:

  • What are the exact responsibilities that your contractor will need to perform?
  • How long is the contract in days, weeks or hours?
  • How likely is it that you might need to extend the contract?
In addition to this, listing exact skills (for example, particular coding languages for contractor developers or project management qualifications for transformation projects) can help identify any skill gaps quickly, and discourage contractor applicants who just won’t fit the bill. Equally, it may encourage candidates who only need a bit of upskilling to get certified in that skill more speedily, and in advance of any contract starting.

Thinking through skill requirements in detail can also shed light into your existing processes and reduce the number of mistakes made through guesswork.

In many cases, it will also provide contractors with an idea of the performance levels you are expecting, so you’re covered if your expectations don’t quite match up with reality.

If you’re not sure where to start, creating your job description with assistance from a specialist contract recruiter means you can get objective, expert advice on what to include and consider from the very first step.

2. Don’t drown in paperwork

With visas, payroll, taxation, pensions, references, DBS checks, health and safety policies, diversity policies, confidentiality agreements and the employment contract itself to deal with, the list is endless.

Once you’ve recruited your contractor, having a pack to send out the very next day and making it as simple as possible to return these documents back to you saves a huge amount of time and effort.

Your interim recruitment agency can often help you out with this by putting the necessary paperwork together, and they will often have many of the documents collated already as part of their candidate selection process. Agencies like Bucks and Berks, for example, will often use electronic solutions to gather and keep records of everything, so the days of waiting for an interim employee to receive their contract in the post, or print it out and send it back are long gone.

3. Manage tasks with tech

In most cases, it’s possible to pre-plan a contractor’s workload using project management software that allows deadlines, sub-tasks and two-way communication throughout every part of your project.

Full-time staff can be kept informed of what the contractor needs to accomplish before they can complete their own tasks and likewise with a contractor’s list.  Solutions such as Asana, Basecamp or Trello come with apps and short training courses for maximum flexibility with your new hires. 

Technology can also help with the more laborious onboarding tasks like training, answering FAQs and timekeeping.

4. Check-in and check-up

The best way to deal with onboarding issues is to spend a bit of time at regular intervals finding out how things are going from a job, cultural and personal point of view.

Despite your best efforts, there may be a few things that are unclear or could be done better, and it’s these regular catchups that allow two-way constructive feedback to be shared. 

A lunch here, or a coffee there shouldn’t take too much time from your schedule - but it allows time for any concerns to be addressed on both sides.

5. Don’t forget your full-time staff

There are plenty of ways to recognise and empower full-time colleagues when a new contractor is introduced. In fact, it can help to reduce any workplace politics or tension whilst maximising team cohesion.

For example, have you considered consulting with your current staff on the type of person they’d like to work with and the areas where temporary resource would be beneficial for them? It could mean you instantly gain more investment in the recruiting and onboarding process from their side.

Creating a project taskforce to work alongside the contractor (through promoting temporarily from within) means full-time, long-term employees are not being overlooked in any way. And, holding events to integrate your temporary contractors and permanent staff means the ice is broken quickly.  

Contract roles can differ greatly between companies and industries, so we would be happy to offer advice tailored to your particular interim and contractor needs. Get in touch with Bucks and Berks’s Head of Temporary Recruitment, Gemma Hall for further information.


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