The temporary Team meMBER

I have worked as a contractor and I have hired contractors. In Australia there are estimated about 1Mil independent contractors[1] and approximately 23% of all businesses in Australia hire contractors[2]. So how do we include contractors into teams well and how do we maximise their skills, contributions and individual dynamics, quickly?

There should be nothing temporary about the way a contractor is onboarded, introduced and included in a team. However, it is fair to say in some parts of the workforce that is not the case. Some organisations hire and support contractors in the same way they would invest in a new permanent employee. They provide the full onboarding experience across technology, access, culture, values and strategy. They refer to the individual as the new team member and although transparency might not be able to be shared about their employment status, i.e. a contractor, their introduction it is spoken about with confirmation, not demotion.

Irrespective of their tenure within the organisation, a well-integrated contractor should be treated with similar respect as a permanent employee. Life happens to contractors too and sometimes common sense and empathy is needed for someone who is facing some difficult circumstances; even if their contract does not provide that level of flexibility.

Other organisations hire contractors and expect them to magically join a team, figure out their own systems access, introduce themselves to people and even find a seat. Some organisations can also use language like “she is only a contractor, there is no need for a permanent desk’ or ‘he is only a contractor, don’t invite him to the team building event’. How do you think that makes a person feel? How motivated to do a great job for you do you think that person will be? What kind of return on your investment from that person do expect to get when you are disempowering them?

Respect should be a given to all new employees, even temporary ones. Respect for the person they are, respect for the work they are about to contribute to your organisation and respect for the role in your team they are about to play. Every person creates a dynamic in a team. If you introduce a new person to a team with inclusiveness, respect and confirmation of your decision and their contribution, others will do the same. Introduce a new contractor to a team with contempt and their work will more difficult, as their relationships will be just that much harder to form and their voice just that much harder to be heard.

So even if a team member is temporary, lets value them as a person and as a team contributor. There are 1Mil contractors in Australia and the numbers are growing rapidly because work is becoming more temporary because skills are only required for a short-term pieces of work or organisations are looking to reduces costs. Whatever the reason, lets set them up for success. If they are successful, you and the team are successful. Like any employee, invest a little time early with your contractor and assuming there is good capability, there will be great returns. By not investing early, there is risk that you will not get a good return on your investment and the cost of redoing the work or having a poor handover has outweighed the business case for the contractor in the first place.

Respecting all team members, irrespective of their employment tenure and status maintains a healthy, respectful culture of individual worth in your team. Remember your plans, your costs and what you hired a contractor or temporary staff member to do but also remember to make them part of the team. The impact, contribution and returns from that person and their impact on the team and your brand will surely be much more positive, than if you don’t.


[1] Australia Bureau of Statistics. (2017). Characteristics of Australian Employment, Australia. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6333.0

[2] Hays Recruitment Specialists (Australia) Pty Ltd. Salary Guide, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.hays.com.au/salary-guide/request-copy/index.htm

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For a further conversation about coaching, please contact me: louise.bodlander@llbc.com.au or my contact page. 

April 2018