Employers need to dust away old stereotypes to attract and get the best out of their contractors.
Busting contractor myths
Busting contractor myths
Contractors, freelancers, consultants and more recently giggers – a group with a seemingly endless list of titles. Despite the media buzz around the growing ‘Gig economy’, not much attention has been paid to who these employees are and what they want or expect from each gig. How can we best define this ever increasing segment of society, comprising of people who are opting to choose the freer, yet ultimately riskier and unstable, career path of short term roles? In today’s evolving landscape it’s anything from accountants to designers, with one uniting factor – they all want to have more control over how they spend their time, so they can maximise professional and personal fulfillment.
Yet really understanding and ultimately attracting contractors is no easy task. Companies need to be savvy about how they talk and interact with this increasingly vocal group.
We have worked on a contractor campaign with a client which entailed a full research component and below is what we have discovered which has challenged our dusty stereotypes and helped us to reposition how we spoke to this passionate and discerning group. Some of the myths we debunked:
Myth #1: Contractors are all about the money
Yes, generally contractor pay is better and for some is the main motive to make the switch. But that’s not the defining reason why people choose the gig life. Consultants, especially those in the tech industry, are in high demand and have the luxury of choice. When presented with options they will always opt for the most challenging and interesting gigs (not necessarily the one which offers the most cash) that will build their portfolio and allow them to develop their skillset. They want to build and expand their careers just like a permanent worker, so don’t treat them differently.
Myth #2: Contractors are not loyal
Contractors will come back and work for you if they find the work interesting and fulfilling, the onboarding process smooth and the culture welcoming. You want a gigger who is a returner as they will know the business and can hit the ground running - so invest in the relationship and you will both reap the rewards.
Myth #3: Contractors are immune from internal politics
It is a big mistake to assume freelancers are exempt or don’t feel the repercussions of negative company politics. They can sense it and it will play a part in their overall experience and decision to work for you again, or refer a friend to a role. In the age of social media don’t be naïve to the consequences of your treatment and behaviour towards contractors; be inclusive and listen to any feedback and ideas they may have.
Myth #4: Contractors don’t care as much about the company or success of the project as you
Yes, freelancers are short term but it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care about the project as much as you. In fact, the successes of the projects they have worked on contributes to their value as professionals. You are in it together so make sure they feel as equally part of the team and the project’s ultimate outcome (no side remarks that it doesn’t matter as they won’t be here to see it…).
Myth #5: Finally, contractors don’t care if they are not invited to the Christmas party
Yes, in some cases contractors like the fact they can avoid Bob from accounts dancing on the table with a Santa hat, however that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be invited. Include your contractors in social activity to build relationships and trust. Everyone knows a more valued team member will perform better, so make sure everyone is rewarded equally and extend the invite.
When recruiting and communicating with contractors, be clued in to this new, vocal group of people making their mark across the world of business. Build up a good repertoire with your contractors and your long term business goals will thrive because of it.
* “Trends in self-employment in the UK: 2001 to 2015”, ONS, 2016