Although organisational culture is very hard to define, it’s always highlighted as a key factor in attracting and retaining good staff. [i] Having a shared mission, values and a collective understanding of the way things get done round here, is clearly a huge boost to overall employee experience.
And with millennials wanting to work at companies where ‘they’re doing a job that has meaning,’ it’s a risky strategy to ignore the impact of the company culture - and the benefits and costs of getting it right or wrong.
It’s hard enough, though, to develop and spread a common culture when staff are employed by the company, but what if there are contractors who make up a significant part of the team?
The fact is that most companies now have contractors as part of their overall workforce. Unless a common culture is in place, an inconsistent customer experience could be the result, especially if contractors are on client site.
And the trend towards contractor employment will only increase, driven by changing attitudes to work and advances in technology. It’s now estimated that 30% of Australian workers are contingent workers. [ii]
Contractors are often seen as short-term hires; people who can bring specialist skills to a project. They may have worked for a number of organisations and have little real affinity to their current employer.
Here are eight actions that help spread the company culture to the contractor workforce:
Screen and test for shared values during the selection process – look for examples and evidence that backs up a cultural fit
Emphasise company culture and ‘how we work around there’ during the onboarding and induction process. Give examples of how the company values operate in practice
Make sure the contractor receives a ‘Project Induction’ if working on client site (background and how the work came about, objectives of the project, current state of play and deliverables) as well as having a thorough understanding of the approach being used and the quality of work required
Keep in touch and act quickly to pass on any client feedback, good or bad
Involve the contractor in company communications and events; for example, all-company calls, newsletters and company socials. These are initiatives that can only strengthen the two-way bond
Make sure the contractor is part of any internal collaboration groups and can contribute as part of the community
Build an associate network of trusted contractors who work well with the company. Initiatives to consider include regular newsletters, meetings (business breakfast club, for example) and individual contact. These all help build trust between both parties
Complete regular surveys with the contractor workforce. One organisation we know sends an online survey to contractors at the same time as they carry out their employee survey. Areas covered include how well the contractor feels they understand the company culture, how the onboarding and induction went and whether they feel part of the team.
A positive culture is unlikely to thrive unless it is spread across all the company workforce – and the benefits that it brings won’t be realised without strong intent and focused action.
[i] See, for example, Deloittes Human Capital Trends 2017, page 51- 59