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Three top tips for off-boarding your contractors

For most companies, when a permanent employee leaves for pastures new; the usual exit interviews, congratulatory speeches, goodbye celebrations and continued contact via company alumni programmes are par for the course. But, this isn’t always the case when contractors leave.

As non-permanent workforces around the world grow, and this type of flexible working becomes the new normal for many businesses, it’s important that your internal process, namely your off-boarding strategy, doesn’t get stuck in the past. Your policies must evolve and keep pace with the changing world of work, otherwise you risk your reputation among temporary and contracting staff, damaging your future talent pipelines.

Your reputation among this community will be built upon what former contractors have to say about you when talking to recruiters, friends, family and so forth. Your contracting alumni also won’t be afraid to take to online forums, freelancer market places, as well as social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, because they know that this is the first place other contractors will go to conduct their research on future employers.

The way your contractors are treated, right up until their very last day, is crucial to your reputation as an employer. You have a choice between letting the contractor quietly slip away without so much as a thank you or goodbye, or off-boarding them with the grace that you would a permanent employee.

So, here are three tips for ensuring an effective exit with your contractors:

1. Communicate their departure

This might sound obvious, but first and foremost, it’s important to let people know the contractor is leaving in advance of their departure, regardless of how long this contractor has been with the business. If their last day comes around without anybody noticing, you’ll risk them feeling invisible, underappreciated and like they were never really part of the team. On a practical level, their colleagues won’t have the chance to properly say their goodbyes, offer up their contact details for networking purposes, or ask for some further training on a certain area of the contractor’s expertise before they leave.

So, let fellow team members know when the contractor will be leaving – when you do, reiterate the skills which they brought to the team, the key role they have played in important projects, and above all, publicly thank them for their hard work. Even simple gestures such as a card, a leaving lunch or a small gift can go a long away. The point is to let your contractor know that they were valued and ensure your team extract as much value from them as they can.

2. Get their feedback

As I alluded to at the beginning of this blog, exit interviews are just as important for contractors as they are for your permanent employees. They are a chance to get a real insight into what it’s like to be a contractor working for your business. Try to gauge the below, and use the answers as pointers on where you can improve your on-boarding strategy, off-boarding strategy and everything in between: 

  • Did they feel welcomed and integrated into the company culture, with access to everything they needed to perform well?
  • Did they achieve everything that they hoped to achieve during their assignment?
  • How much has this contract enhanced their future employability as a contractor?
  • Would they return to the company if the right role was offered?
  • Would they recommend you as an employer to other contractors?
  • Are there any areas in which they feel their experience could have been improved?

Many of these factors are key to workplace satisfaction, and tellingly, are also often used in the scoring criteria on online review sites such as Glassdoor. Therefore it is vital that you take any negative feedback on board. Even if the contractor felt that they had a bad experience with you, they will at the very least appreciate the opportunity to air their views, particularly if something is done about it to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

3. Keep the relationship open

It’s important to remember that contractors are effectively running their own business, and will appreciate any steps you can take to further their likelihood of securing future roles.

So, be efficient in providing the contractor with constructive feedback via the recruiter who placed them, as well as a thorough reference. A contractor’s key asset is their network of contacts, and if you are in a position to make introductions to useful connections, then do so. Remember to also connect with them via their professional social profiles and endorse them for any skills and achievements that they have listed here. If your door is always open and you are happy to welcome them back for future roles, then let them know.

In the world of contracting, word spreads quickly, and the effectiveness of your exit strategy may well determine just how kind these words are. Therefore don’t make the fatal error of rushing your contractors out of the door as soon as their assignments are up. Instead, invest time in making them feel valued, listened to, and like they have enhanced their future employability; and no doubt they will leave your business singing your praises as the contractor’s employer of choice.

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