The Way We Work

“It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”
— Jack Welch, former CEO of GE

Two out of 3 employees are not interested in the work they’re doing. As a business owner, this statistic should give you pause. If the numbers hold true, there is a strong chance that some of your team members are feeling a bit disenchanted.

And don’t think you can just ignore that possibility; as shoe company Zappos discovered, your business is the sum of the people that work there. Whether your team shares an office or is networked around the world, disengaged contractors will make you less productive and your customers less satisfied.

But if they are engaged? That has the power to take your business from good to great.

Engaged contractors can bring great value

If they are passionate about their work, contractors are going to put in more than the required time; they will go above and beyond, giving 110 percent. But if they feel like their role is unimportant, they are much more likely to waste time or do only what’s minimally necessary to pass muster. After all, why should they do more?

Action Step: Regularly communicate with your team to let them know how their role contributes to your company’s success.

Engaged people can protect you

Because you are only human, you will likely overlook some of the problems facing your business. That is why another set of eyes is needed! Your contractors are experts in their fields (why else would you bring them on board?) and may see issues you may not have yet noticed. An engaged contractor who feels part of your success is more likely to be proactive, putting out fires and fixing problems before you are even aware of them. This type of company-wide vigilance will save you from a myriad of frustrations and headaches.

Action Step: An engaged team member is one who is given ownership of their project. Allow your contractors to be troubleshooters and think outside their job description. Provide oversight that is empowering, not stifling.

Engaged contractors can improve your product

In every industry, innovation is the key to staying ahead of the competition. Your contractors are a creative, resourceful bunch. If given the opportunity, they can provide valuable feedback and perspective. This wealth of insight could be one of your greatest assets — it’s your choice. By actively soliciting feedback from the people you work with, you are making an important investment in the well-being of your business.

Action Step: If your contractors are engaged, they will be giving their all to make your company the best it can be — so let them! Invite them to be a part of your success by regularly requesting input and then innovating based off that advice.

Engaged team members can ensure happy customers

People who believe in your business are some of your greatest brand advocates. They authentically share their excitement with customers — and potential customers. As Clare Portman relates on her blog, a repairman’s high praise of his employer positively affected her perception of the company. But watch out for that unhappy individual; he or she can be just as ardent — but for all the wrong reasons. They are likely to communicate their negative sentiments to friends and customers alike and potentially drive off business.

Action Step: Be open to constructive criticism from your team. Provide a regular forum for concerns and take the time to care about your contractors’ frustrations.

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Now it is your turn! If you are a contractor, what can a client do to better engage you? As a manager, what steps have you taken to improve satisfaction within your team? Share your perspective in the comments section below.

Julia Camenisch

Contributing Author

Julia Camenisch is a freelance technology and business journalist. She also works as an editor and copywriter for a wide range of clients, including national magazines, small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Julia brings to Upwork a passion for empowering small businesses through the innovative use of technology.