Have you seen an uptick in consultants leaving before their contract is complete? If so, you’re not alone – and for all the reasons we’ve already talked about – but what if you could take steps to help improve consultant retention?
According to PROUnlimited’s Spring 2022 Labor Report, 50% of contingent workers who ended their assignments early did so within the first two months. While competing offers can always be to blame, the fact remains that people don’t leave companies, they leave people.
One consultant recently shared with us, “it's more important to me that I feel appreciated and that I get to do work I enjoy, with people I enjoy, than the difference a couple thousand dollars can make."
Certainly, there's a monetary threshold that could change that perspective, but here are a few ideas that could help prevent consultant turnover:
- Hyper-intentional onboarding and ongoing communication. Just like the rest of your team, showing a genuine interest in their lives can go a long way. Understanding what they hope to get out of the job, checking in on how they’re doing, and giving and providing feedback are all important. Make sure you’re attempting to make the same connection with your consultants as you are your long-term employees. Most consultants have plenty of opportunities, be the reason they choose your organization!
- Recognition and rewards….dare we say an end-of-contract bonus. Ok, this might be controversial, but in the age of The Great Resignation, it’s important to put all your cards on the table. When you have the perfect candidate but they have two other offers, you can be the organization that stands out – especially if the consultant is expected to make a significant impact on your business. Providing an end-of-contract bonus or even incentives for hitting key milestones might mean the difference between winning and losing talent. Remember: your consultants are being courted by other companies, and providing the best possible working environment — and top-tier incentives — may just be the formula needed to win.
- Providing purpose and the bigger picture. It may seem like a consultant just wants to come in and do the work with little care about company goals or the long-term impact of the project, but the reality is consultants are choosing jobs that provide them a sense of pride and purpose. As the leader, your job is to help them understand the impact they can have on the organization.
- Being inclusive. Are you beginning to see a theme? We know there are rules around this for consultants, but consider (and plan) activities they can be a part of. Consultants are generally part of a team, bringing them along on team-building activities may just be the thing that keeps them engaged and builds loyalty. If you’re not sure about what activities they can be invited to, talk to your HR team or your staffing partner. At a minimum, treat their birthday or work anniversary as a special occasion just like you would any full-time employee. These little acknowledgements will go a long way to building a strong relationship between your teams and your contractors.
At the end of the day, if you're leading a team that includes consultants make sure you're taking steps that will help improve retention. And don't forget about your staffing partners. They can help too. For years Paragon has leveraged a Consultant Relationship Program to help improve communication, mitigate uncertainty and improve retention.