Complete Contractor Onboarding Checklist: Everything You Need to Scale Your Talent Pool

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Hiring an independent contractor for your business might be the right decision, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Without the right tools, processes, and platforms (ahem, Worksuite), contractor onboarding can be a downright headache—for you and your freelancers.

A contractor onboarding checklist is the first thing you’ll need. Then, you’ll need a freelancer management platform to help seamlessly tick off each item on your to-do list, on autopilot. Fortunately, we can help you with both.

Manual onboarding processes can be slow, error-prone, and a deterrent to contractors from working with your business. In the olden days, contractor onboarding involved a slew of back-and-forth emails, endless piles of paperwork, chasing down NDA signatures, and the ever-present risk of overlooking critical compliance requirements.

Scary, right?

But it doesn’t need to be this way. Our platform is designed to automate and streamline the contractor onboarding process, effectively cutting out all the administrative chaos. Armed with the complete contractor onboarding checklist (more on that below) and Worksuite, you’ll be ready to tackle any obstacle that threatens to bog down your systems and processes.

What Is Contractor Onboarding?

Contractor onboarding is the process of integrating new freelancers or independent contractors into your business’s ecosystem. It’s about giving them the tools, information, and access they need to start contributing effectively and quickly.

Quickly is an important aspect here. Anyone can eventually onboard a contractor, but you don’t want a freelancer in six months—you want them yesterday.

By streamlining your contractor onboarding, you empower your organization to quickly adapt to market demand, access a wider pool of talent, and drive growth without the overhead associated with traditional employment.

An effective contractor onboarding system includes: 

  1. Collecting everything YOU need to compliantly engage the contractor; 
  2. Giving them everything THEY need to get started on the work; 
  3. Setting the relationship up for long-term success. 

However, the path to efficient onboarding is often littered with obstacles.

Traditional methods tend to be manual and paper-heavy, leading to a series of pitfalls. For one, there’s the time sink—sifting through emails, managing paperwork, and manually checking compliance boxes can drag on for days (if not weeks).

Then, there’s the accuracy aspect. Manual processes are prone to human error, resulting in costly compliance issues or delays. These administrative burdens slow down the onboarding process and detract from strategic work that could be propelling your business forward.

Not to mention, all of that wasted time wrangling administrative info takes your team away from the strategic and creative areas of the business. 

Lucky for you, technology can modernize the contractor onboarding process. For example, our platform can automate steps, streamline document management, run background checks, and ensure compliance. We ensure all the necessary steps are completed efficiently and accurately with minimal hand-holding and significantly less human error.

contractor onboarding workflows - event production staff - Worksuite FMS platform

Why Do You Need an Onboarding Checklist?

An onboarding checklist is a must-have for any business that wants to hire contractors consistently. It serves as a roadmap to ensure every freelancer begins their journey with your company on the right foot. That includes having all the necessary tools, information, and guidelines to hit the ground running.

Here’s why having an onboarding checklist is non-negotiable:

  • Consistency and Efficiency: An onboarding checklist guarantees a fair and consistent experience for all contractors. This consistency streamlines the process, making it more efficient and reducing time-to-hire.
  • Compliance and Risk Management: The gig economy is governed by a complex web of regulations that vary by region, industry, and even the type of work being performed. A comprehensive onboarding checklist helps businesses comply with these regulations by including necessary legal checks, contractor agreements, and compliance verifications.
  • Engagement and Relationship Building: The onboarding process is the first real interaction a contractor has with your business, setting the tone for your working relationship. A thorough and thoughtful onboarding experience can enhance contractor engagement, making them feel valued and part of the team.
  • Scalability: As businesses grow and bring on more contractors, the onboarding process can become increasingly complex and difficult to manage. An onboarding checklist (especially when integrated with automated workflows like those in Worksuite) allows your business to scale operations seamlessly.
  • Knowledge Transfer and Accessibility: Ensuring contractors have the right information from the start can drastically reduce ramp-up time and foster independence. This includes everything from access to project management systems, to training materials, to brand guidelines.
contractor onboarding workflow - Worksuite contractor management software

The Complete Contractor Onboarding Checklist

A contractor onboarding checklist won’t do you much good if it’s not comprehensive. You want to have every step detailed and outlined so you don’t miss a crucial detail.

Our checklist not only streamlines administrative tasks—it also guarantees compliance, facilitates training and development, and fosters ongoing communication and support.

1. Contracts & Compliance

  • Compliance Checks (Background, Credentials, ID Verification): Perform a thorough compliance check before officially bringing a contractor on board. This includes background checks and verifying professional credentials to ensure they meet your business standards and regulatory requirements.
  • Contract Agreements and NDAs: Double-check that all legal documentation (including contract and non-disclosure agreements or NDAs) are signed.
  • Contractor Classification: Look at the details of your contract and engagement to ensure you correctly classify your freelancer. Different countries have unique standards for classifying independent contractors, and misclassification could lead to hefty fines and penalties for your business.

2. Collect Contractor Information

  • Resume/CV, Skills, Software Expertise, Portfolio, Past Clients: Gather a centralized rolodex for keeping your contractors’ information organized and up-to-date.
  • Pay Rate: Collect the freelancer’s going rate (whether that’s hourly, daily, per-article, per-video, or project fee) to perform the work, so you have it for easy reference when re-engaging them.

3. Securely Store Bank & Tax Info

  • Bank Details: How many times have you received a contractor invoice without the appropriate bank details to actually pay them? Securely and smoothly collecting this information is a key part of onboarding. 
  • Tax Information: In order to be “payable” especially for 1099 contractors in the U.S., the worker must first submit their tax information to your business. 

Did You Know? Worksuite’s Automated W-9 Generation Streamlines Freelancer Tax Compliance

4. Introduce to Teams and Processes

  • Make Introductions: Facilitate introductions between your contractor and relevant team members to seamlessly integrate them into your organization. Provide them with a list of key people, or an org chart, that they may need to interact with in order to get their job done. 
  • Explain Processes: Clearly document your company’s systems, processes, and preferred communication channels to ensure the contractor understands how to navigate within your organization.

5. Grant Usage Permissions

  • Evaluate Access Needs: Determine the level of access to internal systems and data the contractor needs based on their role and responsibilities. Do they need Slack access? Will they be accessing and uploading materials to the server? 
  • Securely Provide Access: Ensure that any access granted is done securely with IT security protocols to protect your company’s data while enabling the contractor to perform their tasks efficiently.

6. Detail Roles and Responsibilities

  • Clarify Expectations: Clearly define and communicate the contractor’s roles and responsibilities to avoid confusion and set clear expectations.
  • Document Responsibilities: Provide a written document or easy access to a digital resource outlining their agreed-upon responsibilities and deliverables. This may also be called a Statement of Work (SOW), Deal Memo, Contractor Agreement, or Project Requisition. 

7. Assign Specific Tasks

  • Outline Initial Tasks: Provide a clear list of tasks and projects the contractor will work on, including deadlines and any priority levels.
  • Integrate into Project Management Tools: Add the contractor to your project management tool, assigning tasks and projects directly within that platform.

8. Setup Contractor Invoicing & Payments

  • Establish Payment Schedule: Agree on and document a payment schedule that details payment terms, amount, frequency, and preferred payment method.
  • Implement Payment System: Utilize a contractor management and payment platform to automate the payment process for timely and accurate payments in the agreed-upon currency.

9. Establish a Feedback Loop

  • Schedule Regular Check-ins: Set up regular meetings or check-ins to discuss progress, address concerns, and provide feedback.
  • Encourage Open Communication: Foster an environment where the contractor feels comfortable sharing feedback about their experience, suggestions for improvement, or any issues they face.

10. Training Materials & Resources

  • Freelancer Training: You’ve probably got a handbook resources for your employees already. Do you have one for contractors? As part of your onboarding, set your talent up for success. 
  • Brand/Editorial Guidelines: Give your contractors access to the knowledge they need to absorb your brand’s guidelines, editorial standards, and/or tone of voice — especially if they are going to work on multiple projects in the future.

Does this comprehensive onboarding checklist sound like a lot of steps? Have no fear. Worksuite automates all of it, so you only have to check the dashboard to see where each contractor is at in the onboarding process. 

How to Streamline Your Onboarding with Worksuite

Worksuite transforms the contractor onboarding process from a cumbersome, manual task into a streamlined, automated workflow. We help you create customized workflows to make onboarding simple (and thorough) for you and your contractors.

Here’s how we make it happen:

  • Streamlined Compliance: We take care of the background checks and document management to keep your onboarding accurate and compliant.
  • Tailored Workflow Configuration: Adjust your Worksuite workflows to fit the way your organization works. Put everything you need on a single dashboard and remove everything you don’t want.
  • Distribution Links: Share public and private links with your partners, suppliers, or selected groups.
  • Streamlined Recruitment: Track the onboarding progress for your freelancers with detailed, searchable information on everyone in your talent network.
  • Centralized Workforce Data: Forget about juggling spreadsheets or sifting through emails. Worksuite centralizes all your contractor data in one place, making it easy to source, onboard, manage, and pay your contractors without the back-and-forth admin work.
  • Global Payment Processing: With Worksuite, handling global payments becomes hassle-free. Our platform supports 120 currencies and payment methods to ensure timely and accurate payments to contractors virtually anywhere in the world. 
  • Risk Mitigation and Contractor Classification: Worksuite aids in correctly classifying your contractors to mitigate risks associated with misclassification. 
  • Stay Compliant Worldwide: Run unique workflows depending on the country and labor laws of a given geography. For example, IR35 classification workflow in the UK; W-9 or W-8 BEN workflow to collect U.S. tax info. 
Contractor onboarding workflows list - Worksuite Freelance Management Software

Onboard Each Talent Type Correctly

Stop treating all talent the same. While the checklist in this article provides an over-arching framework, you can also create unique workflows to onboard all of your contractors in specific ways — ensuring compliance, retention, and high-quality work at scale. 

  • Hiring drone videographers who need FAA Part 107 license and liability insurance? 
  • Bringing on game developers who must complete an art test? 
  • Sharing etiquette guidelines for translators across different cultures? 
  • Need a signed NDA for certain brands and not for others? 
  • Sharing specific IT logins with different freelance functions? 

Set up tailored onboarding paths specific to the type of contractor and the work they will be doing. The possibilities are endless. 

Contractor Onboarding Case Studies

Here’s how businesses are using Worksuite to streamline their onboarding:

  • Ferguson has streamlined its contractor vetting process by using automated background checks, guaranteeing that every contractor who enters a customer’s home across the U.S. meets their stringent safety standards. This proactive approach enhances customer trust and safety, and reduces administrative burden.
  • Jack Morton faced the challenge of rapidly scaling its talent pool to support its growing portfolio of creative projects. They leveraged Worksuite’s automated onboarding system to successfully expand their talent network by 2,000 contractors — saving 16,000 hours of admin work onboarding new talent into the agency, while they focused on the creative work. 
  • Drops tackled the challenge of overwhelming administrative work by adopting an onboarding workflow that eliminated the need for 300 emails per onboarding cycle. This reduction in email correspondence streamlined communication and simplified the onboarding process, enabling the Drops team to focus more on product development and user experience rather than getting bogged down by repetitive administrative tasks.

Hire, Pay, and Manage Your Contractors at Scale

Contractor onboarding doesn’t need to be a nightmare. With the right tools and processes in place, you can scale your operations, maintain compliance, and focus on the strategic initiatives that drive your business forward—and our complete contractor onboarding checklist is a great place to start.

Worksuite is here to transform how you hire, pay, and manage your contractors. We automate the onboarding process to eliminate administrative hurdles and compliance risks. From conducting automated background checks to managing documents and ensuring global payment processing, we offer a complete, customizable solution that caters to all your contractor management needs.

Don’t just take our word for it—see for yourself. Start a free trial to learn firsthand how Worksuite can streamline your contractor onboarding at scale.

Ready to streamline and automate your contractor onboarding? See our onboarding workflows in action with a free trial of the Worksuite platform.

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