Contractor Onboarding Process – A Dummies Guide

The contractor onboarding process is sometimes the black hole of the contractor’s lifecycle in organisations.

Which really makes no sense.

The importance of a positive onboarding experience for contractors in your organisation is critical for several reasons:

  • A good experience creates higher engagement, which in turn leads to more productive contractors
  • The ROI of your investment in contractors is optimised
  • Contractors talk. Word of mouth about your organisation being ‘the place to work’ will ensure you’re able to attract the best contractors in the market
  • Conversely, a poor contractor talent reputation will deter the better contractors from wanting to work in your business, and may leave you short of vital skills
  • When the onboarding experience is positive, the contractor’s time-to-productivity is accelerated

It stands to reason therefore, that when the contractor starts their term in your business, they’re doing so from a positive, inclusive, well-informed, and solid foundation.

But sadly, this is often not the case.

Today we’re looking at the imperatives of the contractor onboarding process. We’ve covered all the key elements of a great onboarding experience, so your contractors are ready to hit the ground running, superfast!

contractor onboarding process

PART ONE: Contractor Onboarding Process – Internal Preparation

Preparing the relevant stakeholders in your business, before the contractor commences, is a fundamental of smooth onboarding. These stakeholders typically include:

  • Legal & compliance
  • Finance
  • IT
  • HR (if not already responsible for the contractors in your business)
  • Procurement
  • The team to be directly working with the contractor
  • Admin support personnel

We’ve broken down in the internal preparation for you in the list below:

1. Confirm Accurate Contractor Details

Once the contractor is appointed, ensure you have their correct details in full. Provide these details to HR for HRIS purposes and accuracy in record keeping. Full details include:

  • Correct full name (as per ATO records)
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Tax File Number
  • Copy of their CV
  • Past professional references

Even if you’re doing virtual onboarding, your contractor record keeping must be at 100% accuracy.

As an aside, by ensuring you have the complete, up-to-date details of all contractors, you’re able to build a talent pool that’s recent and relevant. Making sure this stays up to date over time, means you can tap into trusted talent when you need them.

2. Have All Legal Documents Signed

It may seem like a no-brainer, but having all requisite legal documents signed and sorted is key to a successful contractor onboarding process. And by standardising and automating your legal credentials, you’ll be establishing watertight compliance protocols every time a new contractor starts in your business.

Examples of legal documents to be signed and sorted by new contractors include:

  • Non-Disclosure Agreement
  • IP Protection Agreement
  • Data Protection Agreement
  • Non-Compete Agreement
  • Contract Terms and Agreement

3. Prepare Your Finance Team

You’ll need to attain payment details from your new contractor before their start date. This information includes their banking institution, preferred payment method and currency. Then provide these details to your finance team.

The finance team in your business will conduct a background due diligence check, to ensure the contractor’s identity is verified before sending the first payment.

Also, at the start of the relationship with the contractor, before they commence working with you, make sure you’ve received their Tax File Number (TFN) and any other relevant taxation information. This will ensure their tax obligations are organised and ready to report, by the time their project is completed.

4. Get IT and Procurement Involved

A crucial part of the contractor onboarding process is IT and equipment preparedness. Order the requisite hardware and software through your procurement team, in advance of your contractor’s commencement date.

Get your IT team to set-up their access to company systems and make sure their email address and company mobile phone (if provided), are active and ready on day 1.

Don’t wait until their first day with your business, to get these items sorted. It looks sloppy, it wastes company resources, and it demotivates the new contractor.

Your HR and Procurement teams will want to document all the equipment and company systems access you’re providing for the contractor. In our experience at CXC, we’ve seen many companies forget to recall equipment, and fail to retract systems access after the contractor’s term has finished. It’s sloppy, risky, and avoidable. This will also make for a seamless offboarding experience for the contractor.

5. Engage HR to Create an Onboarding Checklist

Onboarding processes are typically the realm of HR departments. But the management of contractors is typically not under HR’s remit.

So, when it comes to your contractor onboarding process, consult with HR for advice on the best approach for your business. HR are consistently in discussions with key departments in your business, for optimising company guidelines for workers. Departments including IT, finance, payroll, and the management team. So it stands to reason that giving HR visibility of your contractor onboarding process will ensure your approach and systems are up to company standard.

contractor onboarding checklist

PART TWO: Contractor Onboarding Process – Contractor Preparation

In phase two of the contractor onboarding process, you need to prepare the worker for their time in your business. Here are the mandatory items to cover.

1. Provide Company Background Information & Business Objectives

By understanding both your company’s history and its future, new contractors will be well placed to achieve a speedy time-to-productivity. Being able to contextualise their contribution to the business, they will be able to offer valuable contributions to genuine business needs.

2. Define Milestones, Deliverables, and Timeframes

During the contractor onboarding process, provide your new contractors with the business objectives for engaging them. Be clear and transparent about their deliverables. And map out milestone timeframes within which all deliverables should be met.

3. Establish Rules for Communication

A key component of the contractor onboarding process is setting the ground rules for communications. These rules must ideally include:

  • Frequency of formal communications
  • Indication of type and frequency of informal communications
  • Communications with the broader team: both in meetings, outside of meetings and specific individuals key to the contractor’s role
  • Channels of communications: WhatsApp, Email, Mobile, Slack, SMS. Whatever is your platform of choice, make sure the contractor is informed and is comfortable with your expectations

4. Provide Feedback At Milestone #1 (and Beyond)

Upon completion of the first milestone, provide your contractor with feedback. Positive feedback, and constructive criticism will reinforce the expectations of the business, and will produce high-value, project relevant work, as the project rolls on.

Factor in feedback such as:

  • Timeliness of the work delivered
  • Whether any components of the work weren’t delivered, and exploring why this was the case
  • Ideas for improvements or alternatives to how the work can be done, if the work wasn’t up to standard
  • Suggestions for changes or edits to the work completed
  • Praise for the initiatives and ideas delivered by the contractor

Feedback at the first milestone, and at all subsequent milestones, will ensure the contractor stays on-point to deliver exactly what your business needs.


How Effective is your Contractor Onboarding Process?

It’s not uncommon for organisations to forego a robust onboarding process for contractors. Sadly, this fact typically leads to a poor initial experience for the contractor and establishes a sub-standard first impression. By dedicating the appropriate amount of time and attention to your contractor onboarding process, your engagement with contractors will be highly productive, commercially gratifying and personally rewarding for everyone involved.


As one of the world’s leading providers of contingent worker management solutionsCXC is well positioned to optimise all elements of your contingent workforce strategy. With operations in more than 50 countries across five continents and decades of experience, we can assist with every aspect of your program.

If you are interested in discussing our insights on your contractor onboarding process, and would like to find out more about how we can work together, please contact us.