A workforce reality is contractors are rarely treated in the same manner as their formally employed peers and specifically their work life balance challenges addressed. Project-based workers wear different company badges. Whether remote or on-site, project-based workers have to report to their division leader as well as the company that processes their payment. A lot of the reasoning behind the separation is the heavy compliance, corporate world we all experience.
However, some Contingent Workforce programs such as Meta are implementing culture perks and work/life balance tools for the contractor labor population. This deep dive into changing extended workforce culture may glaze over strict compliance worries and deliver an easier way to work for a contingent talent pool.
“Legacy Contingent Workforce programs were often dictated by the school of thought that, to avoid co-employment risk, benefits like these tools should not carry over to the program,” says Jenn Cousins, Partner with Two Doves Consulting, who provides innovative workforce solutions including go-to-market strategies and delivery solutions for MSP program management and channel design. “Additionally, many Contingent Workforce programs are designed as cost savings mechanisms and there certainly could be resistance or budgeting concerns around implementing these tools in the program.”
In 2018, then known as Facebook, Meta in response to their annual pulse report created the Balance Bot, a set of tools and functionality that promotes work-life balance and distraction-free productivity. This workforce innovation in theory leaves workers alone to successfully hit milestones, but provides a time barrier to live their lives and possibly avoid information bottlenecks that can arrive from various sources at any time.
“Balance Bot was created in 2018 when our annual “Pulse” report showed a decline in work-life balance scores among employees,” said Kadia Koroma, Corporate Communication Manager for Meta. “After investigating, we found that the transition to work chat for internal productivity (as well as our distributed global offices) greatly increased the number of hours that workers were receiving notifications. Addressing this problem with minimal disruption was the main goal.”
Koroma detailed that the main features of the Balance Bot include:
- Preventing work notifications outside of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours, unless the sender explicitly adds “@notify” to signal an urgent message
- Allows sending any message silently with “@silent,” so senders can label certain chat messages as low priority
- Allows silencing notifications during meetings, interviews, and focused coding sessions to prevent work interruption
“After doing a data analysis to prove the need for the tool, a small engineering team within Instagram developed the first prototype for testing among a few employees,” said Koroma. “The tool then became opt-in from there and spread throughout the company.”
Koroma explained that it was Meta’s people who provided positive data for the Balance Bot’s implementation. A large-scale data analysis was conducted on how the Balance Bot improved Pulse scores. The analysis was the final evidence that Meta’s entire workforce should be opted into the experience.
“Today, in the war for talent, talent is winning. An organization’s contingent workforce program is a critical piece to how they remain competitive through attracting and retaining top talent,” says Cousins. “We’re realizing that the culture of the Contingent Workforce program should reflect the culture of the client organization. Adoption of tools such as Meta’s Balance Bot are one way to create enterprise-wide visibility into the culture and a simple way to increase participation in initiatives that foster a positive culture and contribute to the overall success of the program.”