Posted on: January 3rd, 2018

Is Your I.T. Onboarding Program Ready for the Gig Economy?

As 2018 begins, organizations crack down on their Human Resources strategy, which, includes the use of contractors. We have heard for years how companies are using more contractual workers and have plans to increase them in the future. Payscale recently wrote an article entitled “The Gig Economy is Changing the Future of the Workforce” which had several interesting statistics…

  • 44% of the Global Workforce will be contractors by 2020
  • 35% of the current workforce are classified as Freelance/Contractors
  • 81% of the traditional workforce would try it (contracting), if the opportunity presented itself

Although these statistics themselves are shocking, we know that contracting is even more rampant in a firm’s Information Technology (I.T.) Department. So what are the best practices when hiring contract workers, and what does this specifically mean to your I.T. Department? For answers, I reference another recent article written by Forbes, “6 Best Practices for Hiring Contract Workers for Your Business”. Of the six best practices, I focus specifically on four of them that really stand out in the world of I.T. Contracting and more specifically in the world of I.T. Onboarding!

1. Recognize When You Need Contractors
Many organizations have moved beyond simply identifying when they need extra help during busy times. Now, they have incorporated strategies to identify specific skill sets needed during critical strategic initiatives. Having a clear onboarding strategy for contractors is good advice for any organization with such a strategy; however, think of how much more critical it is in the world of I.T. Onboarding.

I.T. departments hire contractors for very specific skill sets (i.e. Java Developer, Cyber Security Analyst – McAfee, Big Data – Hadoop, etc). In these cases, their specific setup tasks becomes even more critical to their success and the success of your overall onboarding strategy. Since the contractor has a very short time frame to complete their objective, the onboarding process must be customized to reflect that specific objective.

2. Be Open During Onboarding
The Forbes article has a section dedicated to onboarding contractors that states some of the more obvious steps in any onboarding program. Most notably, to ensure that you answer the basic questions such as workspace, company equipment, and the basic administrative policies (legal and compliance issues). They also stress that contractors attend the same onboarding programs as regular employees, which is rarely the case in today’s I.T. world but refreshing to hear someone else say it.

All of these onboarding tasks are a great start, but simply stated, they are not enough. If you end your I.T. Contractor at this point they are not even capable of doing their job. They are certainly not at an expected level of doing their job. I.T. contractors need much more; specifically Integration (skill setup) and Knowledge transfer to be successful. We explain this more thoroughly on Our Approach page at LiL-Tec.com but to summarize, onboarding is defined as developing the Skills, Knowledge, and Attitude needed to be successful in the job. Therefore, ensure your I.T. Onboarding process for contractors is thorough and complete for success.

3. Review Contractor Performance
Another refreshing point in the article was stating that contractors are no different than regular employees and want feedback on their performance. Feedback and adjustments can be even more critical since the time lines of a project are usually condensed, thus the need for small and quick adjustments. The article states the need to “Monitor, Measure, and Coach” in order to support and enhance a positive contractor experience. We, at LiL-Tec, could not agree more with this approach as I.T. Contractors require metrics that measure and monitor their overall progression in the firm. These measurements begin on the first day they start and end on their last. More specifically, they must include a myriad of Skill Integration, Knowledge, and of course, Attitude. We suggest the four groupings of metrics below.

  • Developmental Speed – How quickly daily tasks are performed
  • Quality of Development – How well they are performed
  • Learning Speed – How quickly knowledge is acquired
  • Behavioral Measurements (Social Integration) – Tracks social integration

4. Be Aware of the Skills Contractors Can Bring to Your Organization
Forbes reminds us that our Human Resources strategy is to have talent that provides a competitive advantage in the marketplace. The article further states that “Human talent is the secret sauce of success” and thus leads to game changing competitive advantages. I can think of no better place where this concept is applied than in an organization’s I.T. department.

I.T. workers are a unique mix of both technical I.T. Knowledge and Business Knowledge. When onboarding an I.T Contractor, an organization must ensure that their specific knowledge in both I.T. and Business is transferred to them. As mentioned previously, the contractor was hired for a specific strategic objective and in order to complete that objective they need specific knowledge about your organization. They also need specific integration tasks to be completed before they can use their skills. Integration tasks and knowledge transfers are not one time actions but happen throughout the entire I.T. Onboarding process. This allows the I.T. Contractor to become a natural leader and give your organization that competitive advantage.

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