13th Jun, 2022 Read time 2 minutes

Why ‘contractor’ may not be the best term to use for workers

Terminology and language can have a big impact on your communication, the types of words used for different communication purposes are often very deliberate, but often the terms we use within a workplace context can lead to misunderstandings between job roles, and potential conflicts where there could otherwise be harmony. 

Last month on the HSE Network podcast we sat down with Andy Barker of Paradigm Human Performance for a discussion on contractor safety, and specifically why the term contractor may not be the best term to apply when working with people from different organisations on one project. 

Here we break down the term contractor, the complications it can cause, and how to approach working with different grounds to achieve the right common goal. 


Why is the term contractor problematic? 

When you are bringing people together from different organisations it is easy for the working culture to become fragmented as different people vie for different goals. If you are labelled a contractor, you feel different, it defines the working relationship very clearly, in a us vs them style. With this term and its effects, it is easy to see how quickly relationships can become strained. 

It is easy for contractors to become disenfranchised with the work they are doing if there are disagreements about how work is to be completed. Treating workers like they have expertise and skills to add to a project can really help with getting people on board. The workers you are bringing in will have different approaches to the project, but remember these differences are often the reason they were hired in the first place. 

Getting that engagement is crucial, which is why the term contractor can be problematic. Whilst we are not saying you should remove if from your vocabulary entirely, using more cohesive terms and referring to external workers as partners can help bring people on board and reduce friction when it comes to solving problems. 


Listen to the full podcast from Andy Barker 

During our discussion with Andy Barker in May we looked at the term contractor and ways that it could be improved to increase cohesion in organisations and on construction sites. Click here to listen to the full podcast to learn more about how to create better synergies within contractor safety. 

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