I'm a Contractor Turned FT Employee — 5 Things I Wish Companies Did to Make People Feel Included

As someone who has run the gamut of contractor to direct-hire and fully in office to hybrid to fully remote, I wish companies kept people updated, let them be friends, included everyone in office activities and celebrated everyone’s contributions.

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With “The Great Resignation” in full swing, most organizations are probably onboarding a slew of new employees, from direct hire to contract. While it can be hard being the “new kid” – especially in today’s remote and hybrid-leaning workforce, it can also be hard on veterans. Training, questions, and getting to know new personalities can really throw the hopes for a productive day out the window. Throw contractors into the mix and the office can start to feel a bit cliquey, really fast.

So, how can organizations make sure everyone feels included and engaged? As someone who has run the gamut of contractor to direct-hire and fully in office to hybrid to fully remote, here are five things I wish more companies did to help everyone feel included (and valued) at work.

1. Keep people updated with clear communication.

From new hires, resignations and dismissals to changes in scope on a project, keeping everyone informed ensures everyone is on the same page and in the know. This also allows people within the organization to ask questions and provide feedback. Keeping people in the know can also help reduce feelings of uncertainty. This also creates an environment where employees feel more comfortable communicating not only with each other but also with leadership.

2. Include everyone in office activities.

I’m grateful my current employer does a great job of this. Virtual happy hours are scheduled for the same time as in-office happy hours. During a recent uber-competitive “Office Olympics” those of us on-site had a great time collaborating, building relationships and rolling Oreos down our faces. But, all of our remote colleagues were having the same level of fun with their own “Online Office Olympics.” 

Our Culture team works hard to craft games and events specifically for anyone working remotely. We also do a “Fun Fact” trivia game where new and veteran employees give a fun, interesting fact about themselves and everyone on the Teams meeting gets to guess who it might be. This is a great way to learn about your colleagues and help everyone who wants to participate feel like they’re truly part of the team. This segues ways nicely to point #3….

3. Let people be friends.

Interoffice friendships are essential to everyone’s sanity. We work together day in, day out – sometimes 12 – 14 hours a day (give or take). Some of my dearest friends as an adult are former and current co-workers. When I started at my current company, I started on the same day as two other women. We would schedule time to simply hang out and chat. Especially on days we were all remote, it was nice to talk to someone — other than my dog — in a non-meeting setting. 

Embrace and nurture interoffice friendships. Encourage informal get-togethers and casual catch-ups. It’s only been two years; remote work is still kind of new for a lot of people. Having a friend to help navigate these choppy waters can help build trust and connections.

4. Be respectful of time zones and calendars.

I live in the central time zone (CST), but my team is mostly in the Eastern time zone (EST), save for three people who are in the UK and the Netherlands. All our team meetings are generally done by 12 p.m. Central time. As a team, we agreed to this to accommodate our international friends. It was a team decision, and we hold as true to this as we can. 

But nothing irks me more than getting a new meeting invite right smack in the middle of a previously scheduled meeting. I keep my calendar up to date, including blocking off time for lunch, any personal appointments I may have and when I plan on logging off for the day. When requesting a meeting, the Outlook Scheduling Assistant is usually my best friend – as long as the other person also maintains their calendar. If you’re unsure or don’t have access to calendars, send a quick Teams chat or Slack a few meeting times. This goes a long way in letting people know you value their time. 

5. Recognize everyone’s contributions.

No one is working completely, 100% solo. Even on a team of one, you are part of the whole team (the company you work for). Add in working remotely, and often the hard work and efforts you put in sometimes feel like they’re going unnoticed. Recognizing teammates through Slack, email or Teams is more important than ever. A quick, public shoutout (after confirming everyone involved so no one is missed) to celebrate is a great way to establish comradery and forge those important interoffice friendships (see #3).

Encourage others to share in the recognition as well. Giving a shout-out to a job well done should not be reserved to only managers. Accolades often mean more coming from someone on my team than it does coming from my direct manager.

By far the most important thing organizations can do is treat employees like people. Regardless of where we work (in the office, at home, from an RV) or our status (permanent, contract-to-hire, temp), we’re here to do our best. 

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

What’s the no. 1 thing you wish companies did to make people feel more included at work? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!