by Jennifer Lumba | March 11, 2013
"Fractional" workforces filled with temps and freelancers may very well be the new normal for many businesses. According to the American Staffing Association, the temp staffing industry has added more jobs than any other in the U.S. over the past three years. Most of those jobs pay at lower wages, although white-collar freelancers are also rising in prominence.
 
Sara Horowitz, founder of the advocacy group Freelancers Union, now sits on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Contractors’ rising influence is a natural consequence of having so many of them handle as much — or more — responsibility as their internal counterparts. The lines are blurring, not only within departments but also within teams.
 
How can employers grow revenue and profits in a workforce filled with divided loyalties? One answer is to use social media to reveal shared styles, interests, and skills, and then supplement that with tools that make sharing easy. Here are 10 ways to get started:
 
1. Give Everyone a Public Profile Within the Corporate Intranet

Eliminate barriers by creating profiles for every worker — temp or otherwise — around a consistent corporate look and feel, and then make the profiles searchable. Make it easy for potential collaborators to find each other.
 
2. Reward Evenly 

A job well done is just that. Don't leave it to contract suppliers to reward "their own" as if they're a distinct entity. Instead, foster shared purpose by creating a set of targets for all team members.
 
3. Avoid Segregation 

Don't tout a success on social media by identifying a consultant "partner" who helped. Instead, name all of the key players of the team and leave out irrelevant paycheck allegiances.
 
4. Add Temps and Freelancers to Your Social Media and Employee Lists

It’s a cosmetic step, admittedly, but an important one for the signal that it sends: These are the people who work with and for us, and we value their work every bit as much as those who collect a paycheck directly.
 
5. No Outside Meetings

Drop the notion of "company" meetings versus "contractor" meetings. Give teams license to meet whenever and wherever they need to — even if that means a contractor leads the agenda remotely using Skype or a similar tool.
 
6. Everyone Serves Customers

Encourage customers and prospects to connect with your company over social media and then create incentives for all team members to jump in and answer questions. Hand this off to internal staff only when there's no alternative.
 
7. Host Open Chats 

Use internal tools to create a regular weekly online chat where anyone can ask questions or introduce ideas. Make it free, and a free-for-all, capturing the chaos for possible business use at a later time.
 
8. Create a Blogger Network 

Publish the musings of contractors right alongside those of internal staff on the company blog pages. That way, your entire team's best thinking is aggregated in one place.
 
9. Use Social Branding 

Just as you add temps and freelancers to your own social media lists, ask contractors to reciprocate by identifying themselves as members of your team on major social networks and bio sites such as LinkedIn. Unify branding as much as possible.
 
10. Hold Combined Quarterly Updates
Keeping with the theme of eliminating barriers between "employee" and "contractor" designations, organize quarterly digital meetups where everyone can tune in to see executives give a state-of-the-company update.

Jennifer Lumba is the chief marketing officer of Rideau Recognition Solutions. Built on state-of-the-art technology, Rideau’s employee recognition and customer loyalty programs change the way companies recognize employee service and achievement, reward individual and team performance, strengthen customer relationships, and create brand loyalty. Lumba can be reached at [email protected].