Should you include freelance and temp workers in your company culture?

The gig economy has made its presence known in recent years through the rise of freelance and temp workers. As of 2016, 35% of the American workforce—some 55 million people—are freelancers. And as Forbes reports, many of them are happy with their employment situation and have no desire to move to a traditional job.

Yet even as these workers come and go, they play a key role in your own organization’s culture. Whether they feel disengaged and therefore underperform, or rapidly integrate with your team to create dynamic results, your company will feel the impact. How do you create an organizational culture that makes the most of its temporary workforce?

With temporary workers, time is of the essence.

Because temp workers are only with your organization for a limited period of time, it is crucial to bring them up to speed as quickly as possible. Your onboarding process should include training on corporate culture, so that temp workers hear your culture story from the beginning. It may even be worth your while to appoint a specific team member responsible for initiating your temp workers.

For instance, our recent case study with the University of Michigan Cardiology Fellowship Training Program showed that having senior fellows “champion” the program to junior fellows helped create a powerful culture, despite the steady churn of fellows passing through the program.

Fit matters, even for temp workers.

Even for the short time they are with your organization, it is critical to match the right person to the task at hand. Your temp worker isn’t just a warm body sitting in as a stop-gap—they have the potential to stall or energize your company with the enthusiasm they bring to the job. So don’t short-circuit your selection process simply because the position will only last a few months. This is especially important for small, tight-knit groups, as the smaller your team, the greater impact each individual member will have.

You workforce may change; your culture doesn’t.

A strong corporate culture will build loyalty, even among temp workers. That loyalty comes when temp workers are treated as an integral part of the company, when they’re given a voice, and when their feedback and initiative is encouraged. All these practices can become part of your culture, helping you find and integrate team members, no matter how long they stay with your company.

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