5 Tips to Keep Your Contingent Workforce Engaged

5 Tips to Keep Your Contingent Workforce Engaged

Employee engagement is stagnating in the United States, with just 33 percent of employees feeling engaged in 2023. 

Employee engagement peaked at 36 percent in 2020 after a decade of steady growth, followed by two years of decline and a low point of 32 percent in 2022. While these may not seem like significant swings, each percentage point gain or drop in engagement represents approximately 1.6 million full- or part-time U.S. employees. 

When employee engagement suffers, businesses pay the price. Not engaged or actively disengaged employees account for approximately $1.9 trillion in lost productivity nationwide. 

Related from Aleron Group partner Acara Solutions: Top Three Ways to Maintain Employee Engagement 

Why is Employee Engagement Falling? 

Compared to 2020, when employee engagement peaked, research shows that workers are feeling more detached from—and less satisfied with—their employers and are less likely to connect to their companies’ mission and purpose. 

A big reason for this downward swing, according to Gallup, is a decline in role clarity. Employees are experiencing more confusion around what’s expected of them in the workplace and not always receiving the feedback they need to improve their understanding. 

Why Does Engaging Your Contingent Workers Matter? 

As employers try to improve engagement and connection in the workplace, they must include contingent staff in their strategies and initiatives. The latest estimates from Staffing Industry Analyst put the country’s contingent worker population at 52 million. Overlooking them could be detrimental. 

Engaging this employee population might seem like an uphill battle for employers. Compared to direct employees, temporary workers may understandably feel less connected to the business’ mission and culture—but this doesn’t have to be the case. Here are some tips to keep your contingent employees engaged from the day they apply, to their first day on the job, through the end of their assignment. 

  1. Start with delivering an excellent candidate experience.

A streamlined, candidate-focused hiring process can help contingent workers develop a good first impression of your company. A user-friendly application, clear communication, and prompt feedback all contribute to a positive candidate experience. In an era where recruiting has become increasingly automated and at times impersonal, recruiters should try to individualize their communications and interactions as much as possible. Job seekers don’t want to be reduced to a resume moving through an online system. 

Related: Candidate Ghosting: What Is It, Why Does It Happen, and How Can You Prevent It? 

  1. Improve your onboarding process.

Onboarding begins even before your contingent worker’s first day on the job—and like the hiring process, can set the tone for the type of experience they’ll have as an employee. Providing your contingent hires with a training schedule and establishing points of contact for different questions that may arise can help improve their onboarding experience and early days on the job. Supervisors should be trained on how they can set and manage expectations for their contingent employees to ensure they get started on a positive note. 

  1. Check in and offer regular feedback.

One of the best things an employer can do to keep their contingent employees engaged is offer regular feedback. Managers can schedule check-ins one week into the assignment and then again at the 30-day mark. These meetings give employees an opportunity to share their thoughts, ask questions, and express concerns and the manager a chance to ensure the worker knows what’s expected of them and how they’re performing. Continuing to do this on a consistent basis is beneficial for employees, supervisors, and the company overall. 

  1. Provide learning and development opportunities.

Just because your contingent workers have been hired to support a specific project or seasonal uptick in production doesn’t mean you should exclude them from training and development initiatives. Your contingent workers can provide a great pool of talent for future projects or different roles. Sometimes a temporary employee can grow into a long-tenured leader. Investing in their growth shows you care and can also directly benefit your organization. 

  1. When their assignment ends, perform an exit interview.

Employers should do all they can to provide a smooth offboarding process for their contingent employees. An exit interview is a great way to gather feedback around the employee’s experience and satisfaction and identify areas where the organization can do better.  


At the end of the day, contingent workers want to feel heard, valued, and respected, just like your other employees. Improving employee engagement can lead to a more productive, collaborative, and skilled workforce—and that’s something your entire business will benefit from. 

This blog was authored by Broadleaf Vice President of Client Delivery Joseph O’Shea.