Summary: An effective employee onboarding process is vital for employers that want to get the best out of their labour force, and that goes for flexible or temporary workers as well as permanent staff.

The importance of strong employee onboarding should never be underestimated. In fact, more than half (54%) of companies with onboarding programmes report higher employee engagement. Research has also shown:

These figures underline just how crucial it is to ensure new employees enjoy the best possible start to their career journey the moment they join your team. 

Furthermore, in the modern world of work - where concepts like flexibility and the gig economy hold greater significance for employers than ever before - effective onboarding is just as important for contingent workers as it is for permanent staff.

If your organisation is becoming increasingly reliant on a flexible workforce, be sure to avoid some of these common onboarding mistakes:

1. Failing to make flex workers feel welcome

Flexible workers shouldn’t feel that they are joining your company as an outsider and are simply there to do their contracted tasks as quickly and quietly as possible. They should be welcomed into the business by everyone - from senior managers to the team members they will be working alongside.

Offering a warm welcome helps new arrivals feel comfortable in the working environment, which contributes to efficiency, productivity and loyalty. It will encourage workers to want to return and work for you again in the future, laying the foundations for a long-term, mutually rewarding relationship.

2. Not giving enough information

Whether they are with you on a permanent or temporary basis, one of the best ways to integrate new employees into your organisation is by giving them plenty of information about their role, the company and what it does.

As well as helping them feel at home in the workplace, this helps to provide a picture of your culture, goals and overall employer brand.

Failing to give flexible or temporary workers a thorough introduction to the business, raises the risk of them feeling disengaged from their work and potentially making mistakes due to lack of awareness.

3. Treating temporary workers differently

Someone coming into your organisation on a flexible or short-term basis should be made to feel like part of the team from day one. No-one wants to feel like an outsider in the workplace, so it’s good practice to set policies that encourage all employees to treat every one of their co-workers with equal respect, even if they are on a short-term contract.

Flexible or temporary workers who instantly feel like part of the team will be more productive and will also feel comfortable enough to ask questions and request help if they need it.

4. Not providing dedicated support

Just like any other recruit, a flexible or temporary worker should have access to all resources and avenues of support they need to do their job properly.

One of the most common pitfalls employers fall into when using temporary staff is expecting the individual to get straight to work and deliver what is expected of them, with little dedicated guidance or relevant information.

An experienced engineering technician, for example, could have all the core skills required to do the job, but might still need a run-down of your company’s software and systems before getting started.

5. Setting unrealistic expectations

You want to gain maximum results from the money you’re investing in your flexible workforce but it’s important that you’re realistic in what you expect flexible or temporary staff to deliver during their time with you.

Setting goals that are simply unrealistic is likely to result in the worker feeling stressed and unhappy from the start, and the quality of their work will suffer. The same result could arise if they have to work excessive hours to reach their targets, running the risk of burnout and mistakes being made.

The latest HR and workforce trends suggest that contractors and flex workers will become an increasingly vital source of skills in the coming years. Adopting positive practices and investing in proper onboarding of contingent staff will help to ensure you gain maximum benefits from this portion of the talent pool.

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about the author
Simon Edwards
Simon Edwards

Simon Edwards

senior director - sales and solutions

Simon is a customer-focused business leader who continues to deliver through strong commercial acumen, people development and a curious mindset. Passionate to explore and learn new techniques and thinking that improves operational strategy. He's at his happiest when challenging the 'norm' and delivering improved results through a continuous improvement/simplification ethos. Proven business development through strategic relationships, strong presenting and negotiating skills with a keen eye for identifying new opportunities. Experienced in change management programs that add value to the organisational/team culture realised through improved productivity and increased accountability that delivers direct profit improvement. Simon is husband to an independent strong woman, father to two amazing girls, part-time runner and lover of all things Welsh Rugby!