Contractor Retention: Think Beyond the Paycheck

Contractor Retention: Think Beyond the Paycheck

It takes much more than an impressive paycheck to hire and keep solid workers. Even in a tight labor market, businesses need to go the extra mile if they want staff to stick around and grow with their company.

What many companies fail to realize is that just like full-time employees, contractors, consultants, freelancers, and other independent specialists are swayed by factors well beyond a competitive salary, and because they're often paid at a higher rate due to their unique skill sets, contractors weigh their career options based on a wide range of factors.

Why Aren't Contractors Renewing With My Company?

Contractors aren't unfeeling mercenaries—they see beyond the bottom line on the paystub when deciding whether to renew an expiring contract or seek new opportunities elsewhere. With nearly 70 percent of employed workers passively looking for new jobs, just imagine the willingness of contractors to test the market.

Let's say you have a relationship with an independent contractor that you want to foster, but you're having trouble convincing them to renew. Consider taking a long, hard look at what a contractor is considering:

  1. Are the project goals achievable?
    When evaluating whether to re-up with you, a contractor is likely mindful of accelerated project timelines and goals that are unrealistic.
  2. Will I get to work with the latest technology/tools?
    Contractors shop themselves around to various companies, so they want to stay up-to-date on the latest methods, tools, and technologies used in their industry. Be sure you're staying ahead of the curve if you want to attract top talent.
  3. What perks, rewards, or benefits are available?
    If you don't know the answer to this question, you could be in trouble when it's time to renew a contract. Offering top-dollar rates doesn't excuse you from adding a little icing to the cake. For example, perhaps the contractor will need to relocate, or lengthen their commute. Sweeten the deal by offering some incentives, like providing relocation assistance, allowing them to work remotely, or even providing them with some growth opportunities such as leading small teams if they're craving more leadership experience.
  4. Is the project worthy of my time and talents—and will it help advance my career?
    Contractors and consultants are often highly and/or uniquely skilled individuals who have worked hard to achieve financial independence. They've sacrificed the security of a steady, full-time job for a life of constant new challenges. Be sure the work you offer them constitutes a good use of their time—something they'll be proud to put on their resume. Then when they complete the project and are evaluating new offers, yours will be top of mind.

You Can't Buy Loyalty

Worker retention requires proactive, demonstrable efforts on the part of the employer— ones that encourage sticking around. In an uncertain labor market, even the most ardently independent contractors will likely appreciate the opportunity to stay where they are rather than take another leap into the unknown—but only if you give them a good reason not to go.