In today’s economic environment, maintaining good mental health is a challenge for all of us. However, a study from McGill University in Canada found that people who were engaged in contingent, contract or casual fixed-term positions were more susceptible to poor mental health than those in long-term, stable employment. After all, it is this population of workers who are constantly joining new employers and therefore having to adjust to the culture of their latest company and team.
And these workers are the bread and butter for staffing firms. So what steps can firms take to ensure their contingents’ well-being?
An obvious but big-ticket item is to provide healthcare insurance. Of course, adding benefits increases their costs considerably, which impacts the end client/customer they support. Outside of healthcare insurance, there are many low-cost perks companies can add to retain their best workers, including contingent workers, while making their well-being and mental health a priority.
Stay connected. According to a recent Gallup poll, pre-pandemic, 8% of US office workers were fully remote. Now, 29% percent are exclusively remote. Some contingent workers have started assignments without even stepping foot on a client site. This adds an extra layer of distance between their experience and a client’s culture and values, leaving them feeling even more disconnected.
Connection is at the root of all human existence and gives workers a sense of belonging. Staying connected is even more important for remote contingent workers who often feel isolated from their peers or the company they support.
Set up weekly touchpoints to show you have a vested interest in your contingent worker’s overall well-being and job satisfaction. Include them in the weekly/monthly team calls and make it fun! Having frequent touchpoints also allows an employer visibility into any shifts or changes in contingent workers’ work habits.
Wellness programs or corporate discounts. Staffing firms that partner with a network of local/regional businesses, vendors and entertainment venues can create a corporate discount program that all contingent workers can access. This can include after-work wellness programs such as Weight Watchers, group fitness (yoga) or discounted gym memberships.
Offering these discounted services could positively contingent workers’ mental and emotional well-being, health and job performance. It also shows you have a commitment to their health and well-being.
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Free meals. Who doesn’t enjoy a free meal, refreshing beverages or a pizza party while on the job? An easy way to provide perks for your contingent workers who work onsite at a client is to offer a free lunch every now and again. If you have multiple workers onsite at the client, arrange to have lunch delivered to the workers. In this way, all workers can enjoy their free lunch while getting a sense of community and belonging with their fellow co-workers.
Even if the workers are remote, you can still find out where the worker likes to eat and use Uber Eats or DoorDash to have their lunch delivered to them and hop on a quick Zoom call so everyone can have lunch together.
Gift cards. I never met anyone who didn’t like a gift card, especially when it’s tied to recognition. Offering attendance or performance gift cards is a motivational way to incite a little competition amongst co-workers. Some staffing firms have quarterly contest amongst their contingent workforce across different regions to make it even more collaborative. Again, make it fun and collaborative!
Flexibility. With remote work becoming more commonplace, the typical 9-5 workday is no longer the norm. If the end client is amenable, allow your contingent workers the flexibility to work different hours to support work-life balance. After all, if the work is getting done, does it matter whether it’s done between the hours of 7-4 pm? Achieving the right work-life balance will help to boost their overall well-being and build up their psychological resilience against the setbacks contingent work can bring.
Business resource groups. Workers want to work for a company that shares similar values and views on social issues. Building groups that your workforce can be part of is an easy way to incorporate meaningful impact in the workplace. Affinity groups boost morale and make people feel a part of something bigger than themselves.
Lead by example. Leaders who send emails after hours, do not leave the office until late, or work weekends or during vacation unknowingly set precedence for those around them. Leaders need to exemplify a better work-life balance and take the time they deserve by disconnecting on weekends. Your contingent workforce will follow suit, which ultimately leads to a more productive workforce for you and the client they support.
Upskilling. One of the best perks for contingent workers is the ability to learn new skills that will translate to more permanent placement in future jobs. Embracing the opportunity to learn a new skill can prevent stagnation and bring on a sense of job fulfillment and help contingent worker advance their careers long-term. The return on investment for your company is you have a contingent workforce that is more skilled than your competitors.