Posted by Jane on Feb 06, 2020
What’s the advantage of using a contractor or casual worker instead of hiring an employee? Apart from arguably easier recruitment, maybe it lies in the fact that you’re not hiring ‘potential’, you’re bringing in someone (ideally) fully-equipped to do the job.
Maybe that’s why a study by City & Guilds found that contingent workers get less training, and less effective training, than their employed counterparts.
Our survey says…
The latest figures from the ONS state that almost one and a half million workers in the UK are on temporary contracts of some description. What’s more, the C&G survey found 84% of respondents saying they rely on freelancers and workers on short-term contracts (with 35% also expecting to do so in the future). That suggests that contingent labour is a significant element of the UK workforce.
When it comes to training and ensuring that contingent workforce is appropriately skilled up, it seems that a sizable chunk of UK employers don’t feel responsible. In fact, one in five offer no training whatsoever with contractors, temps and zero-hours workers. And while some employers offer no training to employees either, the problem was found to be twice as serious for the contingency workers.
Why bother training contractors?
The benefits of workplace training for employees are well known and include:
- Better-skilled workers
- More productive and efficient working
- A boost to employee morale
- A more motivated workforce
- And… a more flexible workforce, able to learn and change with your business needs.
The same list of pros applies to your temporary and casual workers. Because, by definition, they are not long-term members of your workforce, any training seems a greater (and less recoverable) investment. And yet, they may only be with you a few weeks or months but the benefits remain.
Especially for on boarding and other ‘contextual’ training. After all, they may not be around long but you need all your workers to understand not only how to do their job but also understand the context in which they’re doing it – who are you customers, what are your big picture business goals, how do your contingent workers contribute to that? Answers to these and similar questions help contractors and temps fit in and work well alongside longer term employees.
What to offer
No, your contingency workers will not have the same training needs as your wider workforce. However, there are certain essentials which can pay off.
- Basic on boarding – organisational context, goals, etc.
- Health and safety – it may be industry-specific or particular to your business, premises, and/or product.
- Compliance – understanding the legal issues around the job, if any.
- Niche skills – you can’t expect to source the perfect contractor every time and, just as with employees, you sometimes take on someone with almost-but-not-quite-all that you need. Hence the need to engage in some priority gap-filling.
Speaking bluntly, you need all your workers to have the necessary skills for the job. And if your strategy or circumstances dictate the hiring of contractors or other temporary staff, then you have to consider their training needs. It’s understandable if some employers are reluctant, adopting a ‘Why should I?’ Attitude, seeing such training as a short-term and very limited investment. But consider the impact on your business (and your reputation) of workers who cannot do the job you need them to do…
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