4 strategies for managing engineering contractors

Engineering organizations seek to manage costs while recruiting and retaining good talent. Here are 4 key strategies to better manage engineering contractors.


Get more help with engineering resources from Control Engineering .

A few simple strategies, along with clear communication, can help ensure success for engineering contractors. Photo courtesy of Kelly Services Inc.

A few simple strategies, along with clear communication, can help ensure success for engineering contractors. Photo courtesy of Kelly Services Inc.

Within the engineering workforce, many organizations have begun to hire contract engineers as they have sought to obtain top talent in the most cost-effective manner possible.

Today's employers find many advantages to using a contingent staffing company as a general business model to manage the ebbs and flows of the normal business cycle. A staffing company's core competency is to recruit, hire and retain a pool of skilled employees, so they become a great talent source when and where business needs dictate.

With the economic fluctuations and uncertainties of today's work environment, most employers exercise even more caution in hiring full-time employees. Many prefer to hire contract workers, who are anxious to advance skill sets within contract positions.

Use of contract employees helps organizations to control costs, manage project workloads, and handle the peaks and valleys of the global economy to meet organizational objectives.

Engineering organizations: 3 goals

During the coming years, engineering organizations will continue to focus on three goals. They will:
• Recruit well-trained, highly-talented engineers to help accomplish business objectives and positively impact society;
• Retain top talent for long-term careers within their organizations. To ensure long-term organizational success, managers should develop various employee recruitment and retaining methods.
• Reduce costs: No matter what the state of the global economy, organizations always hope to reduce expenses to improve profitability. Hiring top engineering talent "just in time," organizations will reduce costs and increase profits.

Engineering organizations seek to recruit and retain top talent, while trying to keep costs low. Photo courtesy of Kelly Services Inc.

Engineering organizations seek to recruit and retain top talent, while trying to keep costs low. Photo courtesy of Kelly Services Inc.

As companies work to accomplish goals, managers must remember that all employees -full-time, contract, and interns - are core to success.

Contract engineers: 4 strategies

To establish a successful relationship while working with contract employees, managers may want to implement the following four strategies.

1. Develop an appropriate on-boarding system
: As managers hire contract engineers within their organizations, they can focus on a variety of goals. First, managers can help their contractors achieve maximum performance and success by welcoming them within their workforces, especially during and after their first few workdays, so they reach their full potential to help their organizations succeed. Ensure contractors are satisfied with their new work environments by receiving education on company culture, procedures, and protocols. By aligning contractors' goals and objectives to the organization's goals of their organization, managers will be assured that new contract employees will work to the best of their abilities and enjoy their work experiences.
2. Communicate expectations to contractors
: Before contractors begin their new assignments, they need to fully understand details of their positions, including expectations and policies. This decreases contractor anxiety. Provide clear expectations of the position and discuss goals of the position.
3. Reward high-performing contractors
. Engineering organizations regularly reward full-time engineers for strong performance and success with anniversary or milestone awards, extended vacation time, and bonuses. Managers can work with their staffing supplier to recognize and reward contract engineers for their contributions, so that contract engineers will feel as equally regarded for their efforts.
4. Prepare contractors for long-term futures
: As managers develop a successful on-boarding system, communicate expectations, and reward contractors for continuous support and commitment, they are striving to retain talent for the long-term. As the condition of the global economy improves, it is expected that organizations will have more opportunities to permanently hire top talent.
Contented, successful contractors can positively impact their organizations for the long term.

- Tim McAward is the vice president and product leader of Kelly Engineering Resources (KER), a specialty service of Kelly Services Inc., a leader in providing workforce solutions. Since employing its first engineer in 1965, KER has grown to be recognized as a leading provider of engineering resources to customers in such industries as automotive, chemical, defense, electronics, energy, medical device and pharmaceutical.

More help with engineering management, from Control Engineering :
- Podcast on employee retention and project management: Mustang Automation and Control ;
- How to Work with a System Integrator ;
- How to get the most from your system integrator relationship ; and
- System integrator resource page .
- Edited by Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief, Control Engineering , www.controleng.com.

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