Discover Strategies for Engaging Top-Quality Contract Labor in 2023 - Without Increasing Wages

In our latest online session, we covered insights from a recent survey. We engaged 120 of the highest-performing hourly workers, unveiling what makes their top employers stand out and where others could step up their game.

Explore below as we unpack these insights in bite-sized video segments.


  • Upshift Exec.VP Matt Gorman brings 16 years of experience in the staffing industry
  • COO Chris Cano MBA, PMP (author, host of the Hospitality Leaders podcast, 25+ years in the hospitality industry including Ritz Calton, Hilton, Marriott)

1. Engagement Strategies for Contract Labor are Different

To scale up and down efficiently, a truly engaged workforce is your secret weapon.

However, the engagement playbook for contract labor is often different from the one we run for full-time employees.

Standard office perks and benefits can fall short. Contract workers are looking for something different.

2. How Important are Good Arrival and Parking Instructions?

We all know that new hires need clear instructions.

But starting a new job can be especially scary. It’s even scarier if you end up in the wrong place, talk to the wrong person, or when others don’t know why you’re there.

This is why detailed plans and expectations for the first day, including where to park and who to meet, can make a big difference.

3. Clear Expectations Before the Shift

Clear job expectations are key to getting employees to show up and stay committed.

Many hiring managers focus on simple job descriptions, but taking the time to add a few extra bullet points about what employees can expect during their shift can make a big difference.

This includes details such as:

  •  where they will be working
  •  who they will be working with
  • what tasks they will be trained on.

By providing these clear expectations, employees are more likely to show up on their first day and continue to come back. So, take the time to communicate what’s expected of your employees and watch the retention rates rise!

4. Adding "What to Wear" Photo

This is a simple tip for hospitality businesses that require their employees to have proper attire.

People can interpret “what to wear” instructions in a lot of different ways. While asking someone to wear black is helpful, it leaves a lot up to interpretation.

Adding a detailed description of the dress code and a photo showing what “black pants and black shirt” mean is a very simple way to eliminate this uncertainty.

5. Proper Training

Day one is make-or-break for a new worker.

It’s when first impressions are made, and engagement points are key. If the first day goes well, they’re more likely to stay on for the long run.

That’s why it’s important to provide proper training and clear expectations from the get-go.

A simple, 30-second rundown of what they should do can change everything.

Without proper engagement, workers may not come back, leaving you short-handed.

Provide a checklist of training steps, so workers know what to do and feel confident. It’s a small investment with a big payoff.

6. Raising the Bar to Keep Great Workers

Are you hiring a lot of contract laborers? Are you keeping some around who may not be the best fit for your business? 

This could be driving away the great people who want to be there. 

Our survey reveals that top-notch workers prefer to be around others who are equally committed.

Placing them with colleagues who lack motivation or aren’t the right fit could be actively repelling them. Ensure you hire the right people to foster a positive work environment that both attracts and keeps quality contract labor.

7. Treating Contact Staff Differently

Have you considered the effects of treating contract labor differently to your in-house team?

Creating separate cultures where workers receive different treatment can harm engagement and push away top-tier talent on both sides.

Treating all workers with respect and equality increases engagement, no matter the business.

Make sure to treat everyone the same, showing consistent respect, and build a concurrent culture that values all team members equally.

Want to take a look at the survey and find out what the best workers think? 

Click to Open Survey