Building a Culture of Connection and Caring among Independent Contractors in a Remote Work Environment

Building a Culture of Connection and Caring among Independent Contractors in a Remote Work Environment
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Written by: Andy Chen
Foreword by: Paul Stewart

Technological innovations have put a wide variety of workers squarely in control of their lives and livelihoods. No longer at the mercy of a giant corporation and their scheduling whims, independent contractors can choose when and where to work, ensuring that their work fits into their life, not the other way around.

This is especially true in health care. Nurses and clinicians work long, grueling hours. As the founder of NurseDash, the first on-demand healthcare marketplace for facilities that need staffing support and clinicians looking for open shifts to match their schedule and lifestyle, I’ve seen first-hand how technology marketplaces like ours can transform people’s lives. NurseDash allows healthcare professionals to set their own schedules, which is great for the worker, but can also introduce workforce challenges around community, connection and culture.  

How does a company like ours create a sense of loyalty and connection among an independent workforce? Here are a few ways:

Understanding the Talent Market

In the nursing industry, the demand for skilled labor is at an all-time high. Businesses like ours have to communicate to both the workers and the facilities that we know that talent isn’t a commodity and, instead, cultivate engagement on par with full-time employees. We have worked hard to understand the motivations of the talent pool in which we operate. Three years following COVID-19, a large share of the nursing workforce has left—or is considering leaving—the profession. According to a recent McKinsey survey of registered nurses, 29% of respondents indicated their intent to leave their role in direct patient care. Even more so, by 2025, McKinsey estimates that the United States may have a gap between 200,000 to 450,000 nurses available for direct patient care, or a 10-to-20% gap.

Hospitals and platforms such as NurseDash are competing for scarce resources. To win the war for talent, businesses must think carefully about how they treat workers. First and foremost, they should pay competitive wages. We market our nurses and clinicians to emphasize their unique skill sets, which in turn, helps them to make more money. We also match them with facility operators that understand their passion and value proposition. As an on-demand platform, facility operators know that by working with us, their contractors are part of a large market of candidates who can directly blend in with their culture.

Giving Thanks & Showing Appreciation

Building a Culture of Connection and Caring among Independent Contractors in a Remote Work Environment
Sourced Photo

At NurseDash, we utilize a company called CardSnacks to send e-greetings and gift cards at important moments throughout the year. We do this multiple times a year in two key categories: To show recognition in conjunction with ‘Nurse Appreciation Day’ or during company events and at key milestones like birthdays and work anniversaries.

We are a distributed workforce, meaning all of our employees work remotely. If we want to foster connection, we can’t just schedule a worker appreciation lunch in the conference room. Additionally, we have clinicians who use our marketplace across ten metros and five states, along with our facilities operators. We value our employees, clinicians and facility clients, so we send a CardSnacks greeting for important moments to show our appreciation, say thank you for a job well done, and stay connected to the people who are pivotal to our success. We’ve found it’s a great way to build loyalty, which is the lifeblood of any business.

CardSnacks partners with more than 400 popular retailers, such as Amazon, Sephora and Apple, so we can easily insert a variety of gift cards into every card we send. They also have hundreds of occasions to choose from, from birthdays and anniversaries to more obscure occasions such as National Donut Day. The platform also allows us to personalize our e-cards with our own NurseDash branding. We love the ease and versatility of the program.

A Little Friendly Competition

Humans are hardwired for competition. After all, isn’t that what “Survival of the Fittest” taught us? So, it’s no secret that gamification—where gaming elements are incorporated into the work environment—has been growing in popularity.

According to a recent survey, 90% of employees report that gamification makes them more productive at work, with employees, on average, experiencing a 48% increase in engagement with gamified work experience. And companies that use gamification are seven times more profitable than those that do not use gamified elements at work—whether with employees or consumers.

At NurseDash, we’ve incorporated gamification into our culture. We have a leaderboard, and workers compete for various awards—winning prizes for completing the most shifts per week, for example. We’ve found that healthy competition is good for fostering engagement and connection.

This has been a big differentiator for us. Rising on that leaderboard keeps our healthcare professionals more engaged and loyal to us. After all, you’re not going to win awards by going outside of our network.

Technology has created better work-life balance for both employees and independent contractors. But businesses shouldn’t be complacent about investing in their culture and community, whether they are a traditional in-person company or distributed workforce.

Andy Chen is the Executive Chairman and Founder of NurseDash.


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