Subcontractors play a very important role in the timely completion of construction projects, and their specialized skills are in high demand. In fact, contingent and contractor workers now make up a reported 40.4% of the U.S. workforce across all industries.

To accommodate this growth, construction managers must use strategies to ensure subcontractors are valued as part of the team. Although their work is contractual, it’s just as important to build a good working relationship with your subcontractors as with your full-time employees. Let’s look at four different techniques you can implement to help integrate your subcontractors with the rest of your team.

1. Make Team Introductions

While you may not have the resources to provide a full onboarding process (especially during the busy season), you should still offer a subcontractor an orientation session to help them connect with the company and their fellow team members.

The orientation process should include a discussion of your company culture, an introduction to coworkers and shift managers, and an outline of expectations for their first days on the job. This familiarity can help build relationships, improve company communication, and increase productivity by making employees and subcontractors feel united in working together to achieve bigger company goals.

2. Give Access to Online Tools

To help engage your subcontractors in the work they’re doing, give them access to the same learning platform and knowledge base as your full-time employees. On-the-job training can help retain and engage employees, and manage risk among teams. The BirdDogHR employee management software includes a Learning Management Software (LMS) solution that makes workforce development easy, centralizing learning and collaboration in one place. Because our online learning platform is cloud-based, your subcontractors and full-time employees can learn from anywhere, at anytime.

In addition to learning tools, offer subcontractors access to online collaboration tools to connect and collaborate with their colleagues. This allows everyone to contribute to the sharing and documenting of best practices and company processes.

Keep in mind, although you can suggest the use of these tools and applications, you cannot require it — insisting that a subcontractor use a specific tool could indicate an employer-employee relationship (which may lead to legal trouble).

3. Hold Open Team Meetings

The value of in-person communication can often be forgotten, with the abundance of digital tools like smartphones, tablets, and email. Holding weekly or biweekly all-hands team meetings with your employees and subcontractors is an excellent way to ensure everyone is on the same page. Meetings also present an opportunity for questions, concerns, and feedback from all team members in an open, collaborative environment.

4. Be Transparent About Expectations

Relationship management takes on increased importance when it comes to the employment of subcontractors. Be upfront and honest with subcontractors about expectations for the project and timeframe — but avoid alluding to the possibility of future work, as this could create a misclassification issue.

To keep track of any subcontractors you’ve previously hired, use an HR management solution that includes a Talent Bench solution. When a new project comes up, you can easily locate and contact subcontractors who have worked for you in the past.

Note: Be Wary of Subcontractor Classification

Making subcontractors feel valued is important, but maintaining compliance is just as important. In recent years, the construction industry has seen an increase in the misclassification of employees as subcontractors, and vice versa. This mislabeling can have major repercussions, particularly when it comes to compliance and employee benefits.

A tool like the BirdDogHR Applicant Tracking System (ATS) can help ensure every person you hire as a subcontractor is classified properly, so you can focus on what’s important: ensuring subcontractors are engaged, connected and well-managed.

With BirdDogHR, each of the tools you need to manage your employees and subcontractors are accessible through a single, cloud-based software solution. Contact us today to see how our ATS can help with your employee engagement and talent management processes.