Rewards delivered to an IC

Ask Madison: Do rewards & recognition appeal to independent contractors?

July 23, 2020
| ByDan Davenport

As a leader in the space, we continue to advocate for showing appreciation to everyone that contributes to your organization—your business goals and your bottom line.  It truly can never be a bad thing to recognize hard work, and it can be a great thing when done right, a powerful tool. In our last blog post, we supported extending a Rewards and Recognition program to include independent contractors, or non-traditional classified workers, especially given the hiring shift we are seeing at some organizations.

However, if we understand the motivation of a person who would choose the work lifestyle of an independent contractor vs. pursuing a full-time, traditional position, how we reward and recognize them may vary. Remember, as we talk about the elements of a rewards and recognition program, it’s not based upon how you apply benefits and compensation to non-permanent workers; and bonuses are something different altogether. Instead, we want to understand what types of recognition, incentives and company efforts would bring value to independent contractors during the time they are working for an organization – and also attract the top talent that is out there when the need arises. So, we asked them outright – would being included in a rewards and recognition program from one of your client employers make a difference in your work-life?


IC#1, Business Process Consultant

“I didn’t choose independent contracting; in a sense it chose me.  Several years-ago I planned to take a little bit of time off with my family before I started looking for my next career opportunity.  During that brief window of time I was approached by a former colleague, who had moved onto a new role and a new organization, and she asked me if I’d consider consulting on a few small projects. 


Now, years later I am still consulting, full-time, and working with many “clients”.  Over my time as an IC I have contracted with more than 20 companies and the relationships have run the gamut, including short-term projects, as well as to long term, multi-year engagements—and including a continual relationship with that first project I took on some 4-years-ago.  


I am brand loyal by nature, and the scope of my engagement really doesn’t impact that.  In fact, to be part of my client’s R&R program would enhance that in me.  I enjoy recognition like everyone else, but the other side of an R&R program would be important to me as well.  I am more senior than many of the people I work with, and as part of my engagement I have been asked to coach, mentor, even lead internal teams.  So being able to recognize team members—employees within the organization—would also be important to me. 


Overall I would greatly support participation in my Clients’ R&R programs and I do believe it would help me be more productive, and certainly strengthen my experience, my willingness to refer, and my thought process when evaluating future opportunities.”         


IC#2, Digital Marketing/Content Provider

“As an IC for over 10 years, while I strive to serve as a team member during my engagement, my time with an organization almost always has a contractual end-date, whereas a permanent hire allows for career planning, regrouping, mentoring, goal-setting and more because of their full-time investment in the organization. But since sometimes my engagements can (and often) roll, I definitely start to feel connected to a company and its culture, and particularly the members who I have frequent contact with. For my part, being recognized by clients, who soon begin to feel like colleagues, through recommendations and public acknowledgements on social platforms would be a benefit to my business, and validate my credentials, so I would certainly welcome inclusion into their R&R program. On a personal level, to be recognized for achievements and feel supported and appreciated as a team member makes my time spent on a project worthwhile. With that genuine connection, I would naturally be inclined to share positive referrals to those considering employment there as well as potential customers in that industry.”


IC#3, Sales Enablement Consultant

“Even when I worked directly for an employer, as a Business Development professional I have always felt a bit like an IC because I am compensated on a successful efforts-basis.  In good years, we did better financially—and had better vacations, saved more money for retirement, or college, and generally enjoyed the benefits of a job well done.   Salespeople understand this, my family understands it too.


Now that I am an IC, working with companies to optimize their sales process, I miss some of that accolades, certainly the compensation, but also the recognition of a job well done.  It’s part of my nature, and in the salesperson’s DNA to be recognized if not rewarded.  As an IC I would truly enjoy being part of my Client’s R&R program—the recognition of my contribution and the confirmation of a job well done.”        


The independent contractor has chosen their path for a variety of reasons. Flexibility, ability to work on things meaningful to them, garnering a higher pay rate and the opportunity to manage their own career paths are all contributing factors for ICs choosing how they work. At least in the small sample of ICs we spoke with, participating in a Client’s R&R program would not only be a welcome opportunity, but a valuable one for them, and associatively for the employer.


As more and more organizations expand their IC workforce, they should consider including these resources as part of their recognition strategy.  IC's today play an important role in driving successful initiatives for organizations and using R&R programs to improve relationships with employees is proven.  They increase tenure, improve productivity, and drive a positive employment brand. As an employer, you have to ask, “would those same benefits translate to non-traditional workers?”.  We are confident they will, and equally sure that showing appreciation to everyone that contributes to your organization—your business goals and your bottom line is a good thing.

At Madison, it’s not business as usual, but instead, we are focused on support. Supporting our invaluable customers by maintaining business continuity, sharing advice about new working models and providing an opportunity to connect with others. 

While you adjust to your new working routine – whether it be at home or part of an essential service - please join the conversation. Ask Madison is an opportunity to share ideas, ask questions and help create our ‘new normal’, together. We believe that employee recognition is an essential business function and that, now more than ever, it is our responsibility to celebrate each other, recognize every milestone and collaborate together—even though we may be sitting apart.

Have a thought on this article, share your comments and share this post using one of the social media links. Have a question? Ask Madison by emailing or leave a comment below.

Subscribe to Our Blog

Recent Posts