There's a new business model in town, and it's called The Contingent Workforce. The overall mood towards this structure is that the work is as creative and efficiently done as before, but the emotional connection between the team member and the work suffers. Contingent staffers may ask themselves or you: Am I a part of the team or a pair of hands? Why is she on staff and not me? Why does he get to go to that meeting and I don't?

These are normal reactions to a shift in structure and being aware and empathetic is your best route. While some corporations limit the ability for line managers to blur the lines between contingent staffers and full-time team members, there are actions to take that can help you, your in-house and outsourced team adjust and thrive in this new realm.

1. Recognize sources of emotional disconnect

  • Rebadge--She was on staff, switched to a Staffing Resource Agency and still works in your department. The word "rebadged" is one of those horrible corporate phrases that tries to unemotionally address an emotional situation. This can feel like a one-sided break-up but you still live together and she's supposed to be grateful. Ouch.
  • Envy--a new designer is brought in to work onsite 5 days a week. He wonders if he's not good enough to warrant coming on staff and quietly envies others who are; he especially misses the feeling of belonging.
  • Hiding in plain sight--People see her email says the company name, but she's not on staff so she feels like she's hiding a secret even though it's not a secret. This vague status undermines her feeling of connectedness.
  • A non-entity--He has no name outside his cubicle, his phone says TEMP, his ID says visitor. These are constant reminders that he's not one of the in-crowd.
  • Meetings--She doesn't get to go to certain meetings. She hears everything after the fact, and it makes her feel like a second-class citizen. The "private" jokes of what happened at the meeting are stinging reminders of her status.

2. Implement The Antidote (tips from fellow creative and industry leaders)


  • Acknowledge the sources of disconnect in gentle and clear ways so the contingent team feels recognized and respected.
    "I strive to remove boundaries between benched staff and long-term contingent staff through shared activities. For example, I had everyone, staff and not, create a small painting that they hang outside their cubicle, which incorporated their name or some individual identifier. It was a small thing, but it made their workstations more similar and gave everyone something to talk about with clients."



  • Financially invest in the contingent team to bring them "into the know."
    "I have to pay my [flex force] out of my admin budget for them to attend non-billable meetings, so I have to be cautious. The way we manage it is as follows: 1) big staff/corporate meetings--all are invited and I pay them to be there; 2) training meetings--all are invited and I pay them IF they go; 3) business meetings not relevant to everyone--key [flex force members] that benefit by the content are invited and paid for their time to join."



  • Partner with your Resource Staffing Agency--they are conduits to your contingent workforce, so build that relationship to bridge the gap in connectedness.
    "One large client of ours at The BOSS Group does not include our temporaries in any of their company-sponsored events, BUT they allow us to come in and do pizza parties, picnics, etc. just for our large group of temporaries/contractors and usually they let us do it on the same day they're having events for their FTEs. That strategy seems to work well, and this particular company retains over 90% of their contractors through us for at least twelve-month periods."



  • Timely payment is smart.
    "Treating them with respect, communicating with them and, seeing that they are paid quickly!"



In short, acknowledge the subtle and overt changes, be consistent in your commitment to include everyone where you can and be respectful when policies limit your ability to do so. Consider the emotional aspect in your actions and words, and you'll gain the respect and loyalty of all.