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You Need to Train Your Contingent Workers Better: Here’s Why

Posted by Louis Flory

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10/17/14 4:22 PM

After a few years of hoarding their training dollars, American companies are once again investing in their workforces. According to a study conducted by Forbes, U.S. spending on corporate training grew by 15 percent last year, to over $70 billion. However, contingent workforce training often doesn’t even get the scraps from the training budget table. And that’s a shame, because the very reason employers hire contingent workers – to adapt quickly to changes in work volume, core competencies, or hours of operation – is why training them can be so impactful.

Still not convinced? Here are 4 reasons why an improperly trained contingent workforce  can cost you time and money, and what you can do about it:

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They’re not onboard.

Some employers never even think to share the big picture with their contingent workers. That’s a missed opportunity. Knowing the big picture provides context and direction, and people work harder and better when they find meaning in what they do. Think what a difference it could make if your contingent workers fully understood things like:

  • Who your customers are      
  • What product your company provides
  • Where your production goals are set
  • Why you’re better than the competition


They don’t know your best practices.

If you expect your contingent workers to provide you with maximum efficiency, you have to go beyond merely teaching them the step-by-step tasks. Leaving them to shadow an experienced worker, or “learn on the job,” might make them nominally competent. But if you really want contingent workers to carry out their jobs most effectively, take the time to teach the details of your proven best practices. Develop and implement a comprehensive training program, and you’ll build a critical mass of workers who will perform their job exactly the way you want it done: efficiently.

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They don’t always comply.

People cut corners when they think the rules don’t make sense. Contingent workers who don’t fully understand the nuances of your business, might take seemingly insignificant shortcuts that have disastrous effects later in your production line. Those small mistakes can cost your company in a big way. You can combat this kind of casual neglect with a review process that monitors contingent worker performance, identifies where the compliance problems lie, and adapts the training program accordingly. It will help to prevent future missteps and ensure that your business runs smoothly and productively.


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They lack morale.

It’s easy for contingent workers to feel like second-class citizens. As Brian Kropp of the Corporate Executive Board points out, “If you treat them as ‘hired help,’ then they will behave as ‘hired help.’” If, however, you treat them as valued members of your team and provide quality training and development programs, they’ll rise to the occasion and bring actual value to the table. Bring your contingent workers into the fold while showing respect for their skills and contributions. You’ll lower your turnover rates and build a stronger, more reliable team. 


Contingent workers are not fully programmed robots that the staffing agency sent over. Like other workers, they perform best when they have a complete understanding of what they’re supposed to do and why it matters. 

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Topics: Reducing Turnover, Training Resources, Contingent employee development