It’s a candidates’ market — you’ve heard it before. When it comes to attracting and retaining critical engineering resources, the more you can offer them, the better-positioned you will be to keep your talent and network for referrals.

Individuals today in the gig economy expect comprehensive and affordable medical, dental and life insurance as well as paid time off. In addition, suppliers that offer services such as 401k plans with maximum contributions, legal plans, credit watch services, bonuses (sign-off, completion and referral bonuses), sick leave, soft benefits etc. are more likely to recruit and retain the best talent on the market.

Here’s some strategic actions you and your customers can implement for your staffing programs:

Workforce planning. Talk to your customers to initiate workforce planning discussions early and often and be flexible with hire dates. We recommend start dates of 30 days to as long as six months out from offer acceptance to allow the contractors to finish out their current assignments before transitioning to their new roles. Flexibility and early recruitment activities can secure sought-after talent for your future needs.

Relocation/travel subsidies. Discuss with your customer the ability to offer relocation subsidies such as billable per diem, relocation packages, cost-of-living allowances, company-paid short-term housing, as well as company-paid trips to the contractor’s home town. These types of creative arrangements can make a huge difference when attracting out-ofstate talent.

Market analysis and pay raises. As the market continues to heat up for highly skilled resources, staffing suppliers need to keep a pulse on what positions are paying to ensure the customers remain competitive. Present your clients with pay-rate analysis on hot skills and recommend pay increases when necessary for both new roles as well as current contractors. In addition, have a formal policy in place to review and increase pay rates for contractors on assignment every 12 months when warranted. The gig economy has many career contractors and they want costof- living increases just like the full-time direct workforce.

Alternative schedules. Employees want options. Work with your client to provide scheduling flexibility, such as a 4×10 workweek, to accommodate worklife balance. In addition, an increasing number of engineering resources are reaching retirement age, but some are interested in working part-time. Offer these knowledgeable resources a reduced schedule that is a few days a week or a few hours a day based on the contractor’s preference.

Flexible workplace. There are contractors in the market who will follow the money and relocate. But there are others who won’t. To attract the latter, encourage your client to consider creative work options such as allowing working from home or at a client facility near their home. Many large employers have multiple facilities across the United States, but want the work done at a certain location. By offering the option to work at any client facility nationwide, the positions become much more attractive in a candidate-driven market.

Clearances. Security clearance approvals take time. Requiring all resources to have an active clearance upon start is a sure way for your client’s critical projects to fall behind schedule. In this tight labor market, consider bringing your desired talent on board while the clearance process is underway and have them work on projects that do not require a clearance while awaiting approval.

What you offer, how you treat your employees, your level of customer service and the investment you make to redeploy resources when assignments end is what drives your engineering talent network. Adopt this approach and you will be an invaluable partner to your customers and candidates.