First published by People First, on February 12, 2019
How do you successfully manage hybrid workforces?
When thinking about onboarding contractors or part-time staff, there are a number of questions you may ask yourself:
“How will our full-time staff react to these workers?”
“How can we quickly embed these worker types into our culture?”
“How do we stay ‘friends’ and keep our options for future working relationships open?”
Let’s look at some different scenarios that you might be able to identify with from your own company.
Does your full-time staff think your contract hires are overpaid and unnecessary?
It is not just the job of your company to integrate contractors into the workplace, but also their co-workers. Your company has their reasons to hire a contractor and you need to point out the benefits that they receive as a full-time employee.
Beyond this, you need to create a culture of acceptance. Explain the role of the contractor in a way that full-time staff do not see them as outsiders but rather someone who will help them achieve their goals!
How can you do that?
Something I often see done for permanent staff is introduction emails or meetings with the rest of the company or relevant teams so that they can get to know their new colleagues. Do the same with your contractors. Encourage your staff to say hello on the day they start and provide everyone with details on how the contractor’s role will fit in with their tasks.
Temporary employees are not worth investing (full-time) training in?
Why train someone for the full two weeks your induction plan usually lasts if they are only hired to work for a limited time? Why should co-workers spend time and effort getting to know someone who doesn’t even have enough loyalty to commit to a permanent job?
Similar to the scenario with contract workers, a company needs to ensure permanent staff are informed of the importance of the role the temporary member is taking on. Enlist someone from each relevant team to take them under their wing. This can speed up the process and make the person feel welcome.
How can you do that?
A good method is to provide the new temp with information about the company, details about their job and contact details for colleagues BEFORE their first day in the office. They can then prepare themselves and potentially have questions ready for their first meetings. This is a good introduction process for any new hire.
Part-time work means part effort?
Well, that is what you pay them for, part-time… Don’t expect the same output from your part-time workers, unless you are prepared to pay them overtime!
One way to integrate part-timers more effectively into your working culture is to offer more part-time positions. This means they have others in the company they can relate to. Unfortunately, there are not many great part-time options available that can support people in all kinds of situations, be it new mothers and fathers, or someone who tries to get their own business off the ground. Our way of working needs to change so part-time becomes normal and integrates itself.
Of course, many people are opposed to working part-time because, well, we all need money to survive. Here are two simple facts for you:
- The hourly rate for part-time employees tends to be lower than that for full-time staff.
- Part-timers also don’t enjoy the same kind of year-on-year salary increases that full-timers do.
So, maybe the easiest way to integrate and value part-time workers more is to pay them fairly.
What else can you do to successfully manage hybrid workforces?
Part-time employees have less time to get a job done, and they also will not get as much done as their full-time counterparts. They will however need to know how to do their jobs and any necessary updates. Include them in your team meetings or lunches. Give them a voice to share their own ideas and opinions. Treat them as equal contributors to the team’s and company’s achievements because they are doing their part (pun intended).
It helps if you have a flexible induction plan that tailors training to job types and individuals as well as an inclusive working culture and learning environment that people can contribute to. Most people are social, so not shutting contractors, temporary or part-time staff away to different parts of your office will help them mix with the crowd and collaborate with the right people.
There is so much technology you can also use to your advantage today, such as AI like People First’s Chatbot, a virtual assistant helping employees with otherwise tedious HR admin tasks.
Or trust the age-old ‘buddy system’, where one or multiple employees are ‘allocated’ to the newbie to guide them through the first days or weeks and connect them to the rest of the company.
Other considerations to successfully manage hybrid workforces.
There are some other things to consider. Sometimes, it depends entirely on the person if they even want to integrate themselves. Or the role and what needs to get done. If you hire a bunch of contractors or temporary staff because you need them to knock out a particular project by a certain time in a contained team, maybe you don’t need them to integrate with the business as usual part of your organisation. Some people might purely do the job you give them and then leave to go to their next opportunity.
However, if they are leading a team of permanent staff, then you need to make it clear to the permanent staff why they are now reporting to someone who might not stay on for long. They might cover for a colleague who is on maternity, paternity or long-term sick leave or you needed someone quick as interim whilst looking to recruit the person who will take on the team permanently, or help them through a particularly busy time.
Tailor the experience to the individual.
If a company is good and provides the control necessary to get the job done (and this applies to permanent, full-time staff as much as contractors and part-timers), people will go that extra mile and potentially come back for future projects or refer other experts in the industry. It’s all about tailoring the experience to the individual.
If I may provide one last thought, leading back to one of the earlier questions – do we actually need to think differently about integrating permanent and contract workers? Maybe if we think of all of them as people who will spend a finite amount of time working with us, we can create a shift in the way we view all worker types and can more successfully manage hybrid workforces.