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5 Ways to Retain Critical Contract Talent  

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In today’s tight labor market, major brands across the country are turning to contractors at unprecedented rates to fill skill gaps and move along key projects. As a result, these professionals are constantly being approached by companies offering them more money or better incentives. While employee retention has become a key focus for most organizations, the attention is typically centered around full-time staff. We sat down with Blanche Woodbridge, Senior Vice President at Onward Search, to discuss how companies can retain critical contractors during a global talent shortage.

“When building your workforce strategy, it’s important to remember that freelancers want many of the same perks as permanent talent,” says Woodbridge. “They are looking for stability, fulfillment, benefits, and a sense of belonging within the organization.”

Freelancers are a crucial part of your organization. To keep them engaged, you must develop a specialized retention strategy, just like you do for your full-time employees. Here are five ways to retain your critical contract talent.


Woodbridge recommends partnering with a recruiting firm like Onward Search that offers freelancers comprehensive benefits like 401k, medical/dental, and education training. This is a big deal for self-employed individuals, as it is a difficult process to find quality, affordable healthcare plans. She also urges employers to guarantee 30-40 hours of work for contract employees to ensure they are eligible for these options.


Pay will always be an important factor for employees. Woodbridge says that it is essential to review your freelancers’ salaries on a regular basis and compare them against market rates. You should consider giving them performance-based increases, just as would your full-time staff. Your critical contractors are most likely receiving new offers on a weekly basis, so it’s imperative you don’t take them for granted.


“Creative and marketing talent tend to be life-learners,” says Woodbridge. “They want to solve problems and encounter interesting challenges that will help them learn and grow.”

Woodbridge recommends giving your contractors interesting projects and scheduling them for 40 hours per week alongside your full-time staff so they feel like they’re part of the team. Try not to assign them an array of busy tasks that no one wants to do. You can also check if your staffing agency offers continuing education programs or online training to expand their skillsets. If you invest in their development, they will be more likely to form an attachment to your company and want to stick around.


As part of the gig nation, freelancers are looking for interesting opportunities that will help them develop their skillsets. Woodbridge says one way to support this is by surrounding your talent with the latest tech platforms and software they need to do their jobs. Investing in such technology will not only help them perform better but will keep them interested and engaged while helping them upskill.


Communication is the key to a healthy relationship with all employees. This is no different with contractors. Woodbridge says proper communication ensures they not only understand their day-to-day responsibilities but also feel involved and supported. You should include them in team meetings, give them access to your online communication platforms, and publicly recognize their contributions. These actions will help them feel valued and appreciated and strengthen their connection to your company.



While some turnover may be inevitable, your ability to retain critical contract talent is essential to executing your key projects and achieving your company goals. The key is to partner with a staffing agency that checks off all the boxes above and has the best interests of the talent in mind.

At Onward Search, we offer our freelancers industry-leading benefits and world-class customer service to ensure the best possible experience. As a result, we were just awarded Clearly Rated’s Best of Staffing Award for Talent Satisfaction.

If you would like to partner with us to find the next critical contractor for your team, please fill out the form below. We can connect you to elite creative, marketing and technology talent to achieve your organizational goals.

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