Since March, COVID-19 has upended many of our day-to-day activities—from childcare and work to even mundane tasks like grocery shopping. But, as the saying goes, the show must go on. And while we’re all adjusting to the changes that continue to unfold during this pandemic, this has been an active time for businesses.
Nearly all companies have had to pivot in some way. Some have had to assess their headcount and adjust their operating costs. Others have moved their workforce or even their storefront to digital-first operations. Whatever the changes your company or team is facing, there’s work to be done. And how companies assign resources, specifically employee headcount, to do this work has required some innovation.
One of the trends we’ve noticed in the Recruiting space is companies and hiring managers leaning more on contract-based work and flexible work agreements to fill gaps where previously they might have opened a new role. And if you haven’t considered leveraging contract-based employees, you should. In these uncertain times, there are plenty of benefits to bring on contract team members. Here are a few to consider.
The benefit of speed
These days might feel different, but one thing that hasn’t change is that companies have goals to achieve and strategies to execute on. Contract team members can be the fastest way to keep work moving without growing your headcount. And in the hiring process, you don’t need to put them through the same length vetting process you might with a full-time hire. In the case of contract team members, you’re not necessarily looking for a long-term fit. You can do the vetting while they work for you.
And, on the off chance you do hiring someone that’s not a good fit, the off-boarding process for a contract-based employee is shorter and less costly—no administrative time lost on the termination process or separation package needed. But if you’re concerned with the chance that you might hire a bad fit—even for a short-term contract—you can diminish the odds of a bad hire by working with an Executive Recruiter. They usually have a network of experienced contract employees to draw from and they can even help the interview process can move faster by screening candidates for you.
The economic upside
Contract team members generally operate on short-term agreements, determined by the client. Simply put, when you hire a contract-based employee, you’re not signing up for the same kind of long-term operational costs as you might be with a full-time employee.
Many of my clients have found this appealing because of the uncertainty of the times we’re currently experiencing. Maybe you’re looking to operate leaner. Maybe you’re in the process of pivoting or rescoping your business model. You might not know what your talent strategy will look like 18 months from now, but work needs to keep moving now. The opportunity to grow your workforce’s bandwidth without taking the hit to your operating budget is appealing in these uncertain times.
Your company culture
Even if you were in the market for a full-time hire, the hiring process for new roles has been encumbered by the pandemic. Inviting outside candidates to your office might not be reasonable or even safe, and with the success of remote work practices in many cases, companies are reevaluating what the purpose and use for their physical office might be going forward. In short, hiring full-time, permanent employees during full-time remote operations can be nerve-wracking for both sides.
Many candidates want to see their new work environment before they accept an offer. They want to understand what the long-term work from home options might be. But for many companies, these policies and experiences are currently in flux.
A contract-based agreement helps both sides dip a toe into the current company culture while a company decides what it’s future facilities and work from home strategies may be. Onboarding a contract team member remotely and then convert them to full time once the pandemic is over might help you make the right decision for the future culture of your team and company.
Many of the future-state decisions for your company might not be made today, but contract hires can help you cover the distance between your current state operations and long-term direction. We should always be eager to capitalize on speed or efficiency. But at a time like this, when employees are under stress and bandwidth is especially slim, thinking outside of the box for hiring decisions makes a tone of sense. And the benefit of hiring contract-based employees to round out your teams is an easy win. You can help keep work moving while hedging against future changes.