Contracting has traditionally been associated with part-time, ‘temp’ and non-specialised employees but as Australia shifts further into the gig economy, the supply of highly qualified, independent contractors who do every conceivable type of work has increased. The range of jobs that can now be outsourced to independent contractors has also expanded, with positions ranging from one-off projects to long term functions, such as payroll or IT.
Independent contractors versus temp staff
Modern companies are increasingly in need of a flexible group of highly-skilled workers for specific projects or to manage spikes in business activity. That’s where independent contractors come in. While temp staff are usually entry-level workers with generalised skills, independent contractors usually possess technical or professional experience in different industries and positions specific to the jobs that need to be completed. In addition, their experience and skills demands a higher salary range, plus they are utilised for a longer period of time compared to temp staff.
In our current economic environment, contractors can provide companies with more flexibility and the ability to scale. This is notable for service companies and knowledge-based businesses because they usually scale by adding people – with a service business, the fundamental revenue driver is payment for the delivery of services by the workers at the company.
Many companies have now also structured their workforce to scale for growth – fluctuating depending on the number of projects acquired. This will allow you to have some form of flexibility and add resources based on the projects that you have on hand at any given time. On the other hand, when business is slow, you can remain lean and slim down as needed, reducing costs.
Debunking 4 key myths about hiring contractors
Working with contractors has its advantages and disadvantages, and experiences with different contractors can result in widely differing results, leading to lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding their hiring. Here are some of the biggest ones along with why, in many cases, the myth doesn’t match reality.
1. Contractors are disruptive to the business
One main concern with contractors is that their coming and going can be disruptive for the workplace. However, with the right people, this disruption is minimal. While contractors are there for the short term, experience and project knowledge means they can drop in and hit the ground running.
If you’re planning to hire contractors as a stop-gap measure, consider having them come into the office at regular intervals, and welcome them to the team to gain buy-in for the project or role they’ve been hired for. This will help prevent any major disruptions.
On the other hand, many contractors are open to extending their length of stay or converting into a full-time employee if they develop a good working relationship with the organisation. This arrangement therefore allows companies to test out a potential candidate before converting them to full-time.
2. Possible loss of copyright ownership
To prevent the potential loss of copyright ownership on any output the contractor creates, you must make it very clear in written agreements that the ownership of works, especially those that can be copyrighted such as book chapters or photographs, will be transferred to you in advance. Clear contracts and open communication about this issue can eliminate this risk altogether.
3. Contractors are less skilled compared to full-time staff
This one may actually be the opposite. Independent contractors usually come from different backgrounds and therefore, are armed with a variety of experience and specialised knowledge. This allows businesses to bring in a fresh perspective to projects and line up employees with different expertise to meet the needs of the job.
At PageGroup, many qualified contractors who are placed for roles have about 10 to 15 years of experience, making them valuable additions to your organisation and projects.
4. Contractors are less productive than full-time employees
Contrary to popular belief, businesses may gain greater efficiencies when using contractors since they bring specialised expertise to the job and are often immediately productive, eliminating the time and cost of training.
In addition, contractors with the intention of extending their stay at the company or converting to a permanent employee usually have more skin in the game and need to show they can perform well over a short period of time.
In order to ensure contractors remain productive, the employer should ensure close communication with them, setting clear parameters of work, quality standards and number of hours. This means documenting the scope of work and deliverables, and setting regular deadlines and project milestones. Another way to preserve productivity is to ensure they come into the office regularly and participate in social gatherings so you can foster a good working relationship with them.
Lastly, ensure your contractor’s requirements are being met. If they depend on a certain level of work, this should be managed if you anticipate work to decline or increase.
Where to find the best contractors
Now that you’ve chosen contracting as a good solution for your current hiring needs, the focus becomes, “What are the best ways to find the best contractors for my upcoming projects?”
There are several places to look, although these three can help improve the quality of the contractors you find:
Bring in alumni as contractors
Previous employees who have become contractors can be a great place to start – they may also have a network of other freelancers and consultants who may be able to help you. Using people already familiar with the business ensures they can assimilate quickly, while reducing any training time.
Referrals from current employees
Current employees may know what the company expects of a contractor, and can do a lot of screening and filtering to shorten the hiring process. Referrals also tend to be more reliable than a complete stranger as they have someone in the company to vouch for the past work they’ve done and what they are capable of doing.
Alternatively, consider outsourcing the recruitment process to agencies. At Page Personnel, we tap on a vast talent pool of people who are available to start work immediately, and we’re dedicated to ensure the right people are in the right place for both short and long term contracts.
Convinced contractors are the riight solution for your next project? Contact us for more information on how we can help solve your contracting needs.