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Creating an Office Culture with a Contingent Workforce

By 3 February 2017No Comments

It’s indisputable that office culture is essential to creating a productive and enjoyable workplace. However, with more companies looking to a contingent workforce, there is a question of how you incorporate contractors and freelancers into the culture.
Whenever you have contractors working with your company for the first time it’s important to be transparent. Be honest and open about your goals and visions for the project or your company, and outline your expectations. Engaging in open conversation will allow any contractors to understand the operation and give their own feedback on areas they think could help achieve the overall goal. Good culture is reliant on the ‘buy in’, even if your permanent employees understand the companies goals and visions, if your contingent workforce does not, it could cause issues.
Speaking of your permanent employees, it’s important to encourage cohesion and inclusiveness rather than isolation. Even though the contractors may be working on a short contract, for that duration they are a part of the team. Introduce contractors to members of permanent staff that they will be working alongside or in close proximity to. It’s also important to induct contractors so that they understand and appreciate the roles of the permanent staff around them, and can therefore understand how their role fits into the operation. Also make sure your permanent staff understand what purpose the contingent workforce is here to achieve. This comes back to the concept of transparency discussed above.
Reviewing existing processes is also a good idea for ensuring the creation of a positive culture. If the processes used by the entire workforce are seamless and clearly established, it minimises any conflicts that may arise and provides a resolution process if issues do occur.
Don’t be afraid to run a few team building or team bonding sessions, with the purpose of building inclusivity between your contingent workforce and your permanent staff. By encouraging the relationships between the different aspects of the workforce in a situation which is removed from the office or worksite, you will be able to build the trust and teamwork to ensure that your entire office is working toward your goal in cohesion.
It’s also important to remain positive and to have an open mind when welcoming a contingent workforce. If you have had a bad experience in the past with a project that was impacted negatively upon by the contractors you bought in, and that leaves you wary of future contractors, it may create a tension within the office culture. Both your permanent staff and any new contractors that you bring for a future project will be able to sense your distrust and this in turn will create uncertainty and a lack of trust and cohesion within the workforce.
Finally, it’s important to not forget about your permanent staff. While it’s important to maintain the office culture with your contingent workforce, their contract will eventually end and it’s your permanent staff who will remain. The office culture is dependent on the actions and attitude of your permanent staff, so you have to keep them happy and then you can take the actions to incorporate your contractors into your office culture.

Purnima Kabra