While being a contractor can be very rewarding, both financially and in terms of personal development, working on a high-pressure project far from friends and family can be stressful, making it easy to feel lonely and isolated. That’s why the warm relationship we have with our contractors is so important: feeling that they’re part of the First Point ‘family’ can make all the difference to them.
At First Point Group we build a close relationship with our contractors from our very first contact with them. We want to understand their skills, character and ambitions, so that we can see where their strengths lie, match them with roles that suit them, and support them in their career.
We may offer feedback on their skills and experience, talk them through the ups and downs of working in different locations and give hints and useful advice about varying company cultures, as well as advising them during the interview/offer process. And, once they’ve been awarded a job through us, we’ll help guide them through any red tape and visas as required.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there. We stay in regular contact, and are on hand whether they just need a friendly chat with someone who understands the ups and downs of working in another country, or they’re facing a proper crisis and need our help.
Here are just some of the things we do for our contractors:
• Help with flights to and from the country of work
o Once a contractor’s been offered a role, we can help with flights, either using our partnerships with travel companies to get flight / hotel bookings on hold while visa applications are granted, or offering advice on routes and the best airlines, to get them from their home country to the country of work.
• Liaising with local partners and providing information on work permit and taxes in the country of work
o Many clients ask us to ensure that our contractors are working compliantly. Our local partners all over the world can provide information on tax issues, the cost of permits, and the length of stay permitted on different visas, and we work with them to make any tax liability and costs clear, and to ensure that the contractor has all the documents they need for a successful visa application.
• Setting up travel/medical insurance
o As part of our commitment to our clients, every contractor we supply must have health and safety insurance, with full medical and travel insurance in the case of an emergency. Dedicated staff provide quotes for different levels of cover for any country in the world, and once the contractor has agreed with the level of cover and the cost, all they need to do is sign a form: we arrange everything and simply deduct the cost from their first salary payment.
• Assisting with accommodation and airport pick up when contractors arrive in the country of work
o The contractor’s point of contact within First Point Group is a mine of useful information on accommodation in the country of work. We have knowledge of local apartments and hotels and, to minimise daily commutes, can often help contractors find accommodation close to the client’s offices. Once the flight is booked, a detailed email will let them know where to go, and give local contact details in case of any delay or emergency. We can also arrange for someone to pick them up at the airport.
• Providing general information on working abroad
o The idea of being sent to work in a country you’re unfamiliar with can be daunting, and sometimes puts contractors off taking a job. We try to give our contractors everything they need to make an informed choice, providing lots of details on the local area and culture, and, if necessary, putting them in touch with a fellow contactor so that they can chat about what it’s like with someone who’s had first-hand experience of the country. Our account managers also make regular trips to meet up with contractors on projects all over the world.
• Arranging emergency Western Union transfers
o If a contractor working on site ever runs out of money locally, we can provide emergency Western Union cash transfers to tide them over. This is a quick way of receiving cash locally: once we’ve made the call to transfer the money, we email or phone through a reference number, then all the contractor has to do is take this and their passport to the nearest Western Union office to pick up the cash.
• Help with setting up offshore bank accounts with Lloyds TSB
o A partnership with Lloyds means we’re able to recommend our contractors for a Lloyds offshore account, which can be beneficial if they’re moving around all the time, but need access to their money wherever they are. A dedicated First Point Group contact makes the process easier, helping with everything from filling out the application to collating the necessary documentation.
• Following-up when contractors are on site
o We want to be sure that we’re doing a great job, so, once a contractor is on site and working, our marketing department follows up by phone or email to make sure that everything is ok, ask if there were any issues with getting on site, and get feedback on FPG’s service. This helps us stay on top of our game, and also lets us know how things are going in the contractor’s new role.
• Running a survey at the end of the contract to get feedback from both contractors and client
o We’re continually looking to improve the service we offer, so we’re always open to suggestions from clients and contractors. Once a contract finishes, contractors are asked to complete a survey to rate our service, and give feedback on their experience with us, highlighting any problems they experienced along the way.