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Debunking the biggest myths about hiring contractors
Contracting has been associated with part-time, temporary, non-specialised employees, but as we enter the ‘gig economy’, the supply of qualified independent contractors who do every conceivable type of work has increased. The range of jobs that can be outsourced to independent contractors has also expanded, with positions ranging from one-off projects to long-term functions, such as payroll or IT.
The difference between independent contractors and temp staff
Companies of today are increasingly in need of a flexible group of highly skilled workers for specific projects or to manage spikes in business. That’s where independent contractors come in. While temp staff are usually entry-level workers with generalised skills, independent contractors possess technical or professional experience in different industries and positions specific to the jobs that you need to get done. In addition, their experience and skills demands a higher salary range and are utilised for a longer period of time as compared to temp staff.
In our current economic environment, contractors can help bring your company 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.
Companies of today have 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 the biggest myths around hiring contractors
Working with contractors has its advantages and disadvantages, and experiences with different contractors can result in widely different results, leading to lot of myths and perceptions surrounding their hiring. These are some of the biggest ones, along with why, in many cases, 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 discruption is minimal. While contractors are there for short-term, experience and project knowledge means they can drop in and start work right away.
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 into the project or role that they have been hired for to prevent any major disruptions.
On the other hand, many contractors are actually open to extending their length of stay or convert into a full-time employee if they develop a good working relationship with the organisation. This flexible 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 anything the contractor creates, make it very clear in written agreements that the ownership of works, especially those that can be copyrighted, i.e. book chapters or photographs, will be transferred to you in advance. Clear contracts and open communication about this issue can eliminate it altogether.
3. Contractors are less skilled as compared to a full-time employees
This one may actually be the opposite. Independent contractors usually come from different backgrounds and are armed with a variety of experience and specialised knowledge. This allows you to bring a fresh perspective to projects and line up employees with different expertise to meet the needs of the job.
At Page Group, most of the contractors that are placed for roles have about 10-15 years of working experience, making them valuable additions to your organisation and projects.
4. Contractors are less productive as compared to full-time employees
Contrary to popular belief,, companies may actually enjoy greater efficiency when they use contractors since they bring specialised expertise to the job and are usually productive immediately, 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 that they can perform well over a short period of time.
In order to ensure that contractors remain productive, the employer should ensure close communication with them, setting the parameters of work, quality standards and number of hours. This means documenting the scope of work and deliverables, as well as setting regular deadlines and project milestones. Another way is to ensure that they come into the office regularly and participate in social gatherings so you can foster a good working relationship with them.
Lastly, ensure that a contractor’s interests are served. If they depend on a certain level of work, then 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 question becomes: what are the best ways to find the best contractors for your upcoming projects?
There are several places to look, although these three can help improve the quality of the contractors that 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 that may be able to help you. Using people already familiar with the business ensures they can assimilate quickly and reduces any training time.
Referrals from current employees
Current employees may know what the company expects of a contractor and can do a lot of 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 work that they have done and are capable of doing.
Alternatively, consider outsourcing the recruitment process to agencies. At Page Group, we tap on a vast talent pool of people who are available to start work immediately, and we’re dedicated to ensure that the right people are in the right place for both short and long-term contracts.
Convinced that contractors are the solution for your next project? Contact us for more information on how to solve your contracting needs. Otherwise, find our other advice on contracting.