Looking at the words “care” and “support,” one might think they are the same. In actuality, they are two sides of the same coin—the contractor coin.
By definition, “care” means “to look after and provide for the needs of” contractors, while “support” means “to give assistance to, enable to function or act.”
Unfortunately, caring for contractors and supporting them doesn’t match, causing confusion for both the contractors and those working with them within the company. The problem is made worse when contractor care is added to the responsibilities of those handling contractor support.
For the health of your company culture and the welfare of your contractors, contractor support, and contractor care need to be better defined and responsibility divided into separate teams within the Contractor Success or Contractor Care department. If they’re not clearly defined and differentiated, they can either meld together in an unhealthy way or everyone ends up being confused, which is obviously a bad thing.
To better define the two areas of working with contractors, we need to delve deeper into the part each plays in the development of your contractors, the amount of time they stay with your company and how they impact the overall culture of your company.
What is “Contractor Support?”
At its basic level, “contractor support” is made up of those within your organization who are on call to take care of issues your contractors are having, either with the company itself or with clients; in other words, these are the “broken/fix it” people in your company. Something is broken and your contractor is unhappy. Their timecard is past due. They’re looking for the phone number for the account manager for their assigned account because something is happening at the client’s site that isn’t within the scope of their contract. The client is asking for more hours than the contract allows for.
Contractor Support is easy to identify because it has to do with questions and answers – the contractor has a question, someone on the company’s side needs to have the answers and questions will typically fall into two categories:
- Contractor experience
- Contractor adoption
“Contractor experience” deals with anything that makes the contractor’s life easier or more difficult. “Contractor adoption” deals with how the contractor and client work together.
Many companies have account managers who serve as Contractor Support. Because they are the ones dealing directly with the client, they’re the ones who can get the answers, negotiate changes in contracts and talk frankly with the client when situations arise between contractors and the company’s representatives with whom they work. They are more concerned with contractor adoption than with the contractor’s experience. To have them switch and look out for what’s in the best interests of a contractor is contradicting their main area of focus – the client. And in the end, the contractor loses.
Knowing this, contractors may be reluctant to contact the account manager when there’s an issue, so the contractor experience lags, with the end result being the contractor leaves and the company never knows why.
The second issue with Contractor Support is contractor adoption. As opposed to contractor experience, contractor adoption deals with ensuring your contractor is being used to the full and the customer is getting the return on investment promised during the sales and onboarding process. Account managers have little influence over their clients in terms of how fully the contractors are being used, which impacts contractor experience and, again, contractors leave without the company knowing why.
Contractor Support, as a stand-alone group within your Contractor Success department, is important to maintaining a stable group of contractors, who stay beyond the end of their contracts, which leads to a better reputation for your company, more internal referrals, and better overall utilization. Contractor Support, being largely reactive, contrasts with Contractor Care, which serves a proactive function.
What is “Contractor Care?”
Contractor Care, as part of a company’s structure, is as important as Contractor Support, yet it is often the most overlooked. It does not fall under account management, as it has little to do with the interaction between the contractor and the client. It, on the other hand, does not fall under recruiting, as it has nothing to do with onboarding a new contractor, but, rather, with how the contractor is dealt with throughout their time with your company.
Contractor Care is responsible for continually monitoring contractor health and reaching out to contractors at risk of leaving. Statistics show 20% of new contractors will leave within the first 45 days; a recent survey by Staffing Industry Analysts found that 31% of contractors quit assignments early, costing both the client and your company money, and putting the project at risk of running over.
There are many ways of foreseeing issues; they vary from company to company but include negative conversation about clients, about coworkers or about your company, poor survey scores, social media complaints, lack of referrals, and complaints from clients about lack of productivity or project knowledge. It is the responsibility of Contractor Care to monitor contractors and take steps to intervene before issues grow too large, leading to losing the client or losing the contractor. The result would be to bring the contractor back to full health.
Sense HQ has been valuable in helping companies using the platform keep in contact with contractors on a personal level, while keeping abreast of concerns contractors have with clients and the company. Julie Vicic, a Strategic Partner at PrideStaff North Dallas, says, “Sense Talent Labs gives us real-time feedback from our [contractors] to ensure that we can deliver on our mission in the quickest timeframe possible.”
Aligning Contractor Support with Contractor Care
Now that we’ve defined both Contractor Support and Contractor Care, it’s easier to begin to align the two, resulting in a healthy overall contractor organization. The process starts with identifying the key roles each new team covers:
- Customer issues
- Best practices
With these in mind, it’s easier to see how having two separate areas, both under the heading of “post-hiring/post-assignment” attention to contractors, alignment becomes easier. Each area works both independently and collaboratively. Outlining best practices, which is under Contractor Care, is important to Contractor Support, as it gives Contractor Success a place to go when questions arise from contractors. And both Contractor Support and Contractor Care may work on the same issue, with the same contractor, depending on where the problem arises.
The hand-off is critical
Having both Contractor Support and Contractor Care teams allows recruiting and account management to hand off responsibility for the care of active contractors, streamlining the overall corporate process and building a more cohesive plan for working with and retaining contractors.
At the same time, ensuring this hand-off is a positive experience for both contractors and the clients will build the ties between contractors, clients and your company. It also involves your account management and recruiting teams in the care and health of your contractors, without making them ultimately responsible for areas over which they should have no control.
Contractor Support and Contractor Care can not be ignored if your company is going to move forward with a healthy, consistent contractor team. And having all teams communicating regularly will ensure there are no surprises, longer engagements with both contractors and clients, and more referrals from both.
Want to learn more about how implementing Sense in your staffing company can align and improve your contractor experience? Contact us to schedule a demo today.