IT contractors want to feel supported by their clients and a stronger sense of connection to their fellow contractors, a new survey has found.

Recruitment company Talent surveyed 1,700 IT contractors from around the world for its Contract Wellbeing Report which noted that a quarter of contractors don’t feel supported enough by their clients.

Mark Nielsen, CEO of Talent, said its employers ought to understand the needs of their contractors if they want to keep the best workers around.

“The benefits of a highly engaged contractor workforce are immense,” he said.

“Engaged team members are more productive, provide better quality outcomes, and lead to greater profitability for a business. It’s a no-brainer, but something a lot of employers struggle to do.”

The company said there is an ongoing trend toward technology contractors which now sees them making up at least a third of the workforce.

What all these IT contractors want from their clients – aside from being paid well and on time – is a sense of belonging, purpose, and other perks that might be extended to an organisation’s permanent employees, Talent found.

Of the challenges contractors face, the three largest are: managing work/life balance, finding new work, and professional development.

Nearly half of the Talent survey respondents (45 per cent) said the most important support they could receive was for professional development – such as training and upskilling – with mental health coming second.

As far as a sense of belonging is concerned most respondents (84 per cent) said they felt connected with an organisation’s permanent employees.

Yet 38 per cent expressed a sense of disconnection from their fellow contractors, something Talent thinks organisations could do better to remedy.

“One answer might be the lack of a common platform where they could come together as a community to exchange ideas or advice – especially as we move into a post-pandemic world, where remote working threatens to isolate freelance workers even further,” the report said.

Those who said they felt disconnected from their peers suggested ways to help stay in contact with fellow contractors such as regular virtual catch-up sessions, training with other contractors, and even a dedicated social media site for contractors.

But the most important perk for contractors is something that is more common today than it ever has been: remote working and flexible hours.

Of those surveyed by Talent, 75 per cent said remote and flexible working arrangements were the top benefits they were looking for.

Other common benefits contractors want to see are financial bonuses, sick and annual leave pay, and more training or upskilling.