Contract employees, typically hired at higher rates but without many of the perks of being a full-time employee, may seem like the most likely to leave at the drop of a hat. It’s not unusual for a contract worker to leave for what they feel is a better opportunity. While you weren’t able or willing to give them a full-time position, you probably needed them to stick out their contract so you could get a certain job done. When a contract employee decides to disappear, you’re likely to need to hire someone else quickly and the cost of training and hiring is significant. So how can you keep contract employees interested?

Engage Them from the Start

 Even though they’re not a permanent staff member, make sure they’re invited to meetings and participate in events like holiday parties and happy hours. Even if it’s just making sure that they come to lunches with other staff members, it’s important for them to feel like part of the group, even if it’s only a temporary membership. No matter what kind of employee we’re talking about, feeling like you’re part of the team will improve productivity and make them less likely to consider other options.

Keep Them Updated About Opportunities

If you’re considering hiring someone full-time after the contract expires, or if you are likely to renew the contract for a longer period, tell them about your thoughts. Make sure they’re not already hunting for “something better” by giving them something better to look forward to. Because they’re not a permanent employee, they’ve got more to worry about when it comes to making their rent payments and having cash for groceries. They’ll be thinking about the next opportunity long before their contract with you expires, so don’t wait to tell them you are considering keeping them around. Tell them that halfway through their contract you’ll be ready to talk next steps.

Find Out What Contractors Like About Certain Employers

Go ahead and survey contract employees about why they do or don’t stay. Find out where they’re happiest and why. The fact is that you’ll probably learn a lot about what it’s like to be a contractor, and therefore you’ll learn just what it is that keeps contractors interested in working in a certain position or for a certain company.

If You Really Need Them

The fact is that some contractors want to remain contractors while others are looking for a full-time opportunity. If you have a contractor who you really don’t want to lose, it’s time to create a full-time position for them. Talk to them about what they’re looking for and how they see their next steps unfolding. Make sure they realize that you value their work as well as their needs as an employee. Figure out what it is you are willing to do to keep them on board and then find out what they need. It may turn out that you’re not on the same page. But more often than no, simply treating them like a human being will show you that there’s common ground and you’ll come to an agreement that works for both parties.