Onboarding Independent Contractors

In today’s business landscape, organizations increasingly rely on the expertise and ready availability of independent contractors to get work done. From the need for specialized skills to the high cost of benefits, there are many reasons for hiring contractors. However, one thing that’s true of every contract engagement is the need for strong, smart onboarding. In today’s issue, we’ll explore what it means to onboard contractors for optimal engagement, so they can get right to work for you.

The big question

How can a company guide a contractor to feel invested in an organization, and become high potential, high performing teammates? How can they both contribute discretionary effort, and, share an emotional investment in the company’s work?

To start, let’s consider a new way of approaching onboarding. Too often, onboarding is left to department managers who may be too occupied with their full time job to commit the additional time and energy requirements of onboarding new employees.  But even if they have the bandwidth to offer time and effort, they might not be proficient in training new hires. Worse, they may deliver a bad experience. Another potential problem comes from different managers each providing their own type of onboarding; this leads to counterproductive inconsistencies all across the company. However, most of the time, independent contractors are left with self-guided onboarding if they are lucky enough to get any at all.


In a perfect world, we would have employees dedicated to providing world-class onboarding content and experiences. In an even more perfect world, we would be onboarding only the employees with perfect skills, perfect understanding of their roles and responsibilities, who are perfectly suited to the personalities and culture within the company.

Naturally, the real world looks very different. But the problem of delivering a consistent message for each and every employee, contractors included, still needs solving. From company policies to processes, the right company information needs sharing to the right people at the right time. One way to accomplish this, and to reduce costs and accelerate full investment, is by providing onboarding information to the contractor before their term even starts.

Why before they start? While contractors are often expected to begin delivering their services right away, it’s unreasonable to expect them to figure out company procedures and high-level cultural issues fast enough to do so. A head start can solve this issue through helping the contractor prepare for his or her own entry in advance.

Taking the Right Steps

During a pre-onboarding period, we recommend a standardized approach beginning with a clear, central message from the organization. This message should consist of the company’s history, values and cultural details to build a solid foundation. From there, more specific training modules can be added appropriate to a contractor’s role, location and other considerations. Upon completion, we suggest measuring and determining whether the message has been successfully understood and retained by your contractors.

Maybe it’s not feasible for dedicated onboarding staff to manage all these steps in the onboarding process in your organization. Or perhaps your number of locations makes it prohibitive. What’s the solution?

Answer: technology.

At StepItUp, we help you create consistent, world-class onboarding that’s relevant, mobile and available right when you need it—even before a new hire’s first day. We also offer the tools to measure participation and competency in contractors and employees alike. Our innovative social platform engages and educates by letting your own employees create and produce educational content to be curated and shared with fellow employees.

[Learn more]  

See how StepItUp helped Scott Razek start strong, fast, in his current role as CMO.



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