Five Key Benefits of Contract Staffing During Economic Uncertainty

In 2020, there’s been significant turbulence across the United States. Looking to the second half of the year, we’re still facing economic uncertainty. For business leaders, the lack of clarity around how the economy will impact the growth can make it difficult to commit to long-term resources that may not be sustainable. This is why flexibility is key—especially in terms of staffing.

One underutilized solution that offers significant flexibility is hiring contractors. Companies of any size can benefit from interim contractors who can help fill gaps without a long-term commitment.

As you think about meeting your 2020 goals and planning for a strong start to 2021, here are five reasons to budget for contractors to help you and your team.

  1. You can help your team stay on-top of their work without burning out.

Identifying key indicators of burnout before it occurs is key because reversing burnout is much more difficult than preventing it. So how can you identify burnout when employees aren’t vocal about their feelings? Look at turnover, rate of overtime, customer feedback, employee surveys, and sales growth. If anything seems to be headed in the wrong direction, burnout may in fact be the problem. 

“Employee burnout can be for a variety of reasons – overworked, culture issues, personal issues or other factors. When someone is not focused, excited or immersed in company expectations many areas suffer – revenue drops, client satisfaction declines, team dynamic suffers, and turnover increases,” says Beth Aebersold, managing partner of M&B Search Group. “Leadership is a top down strategy. Top level and line managers need to be on the same page to identify and course correct when they see that someone is starting down the path of feeling overwhelmed, unsatisfied, and burned out. Bringing in a contractor can help reduce the burden on the team and allow associates to focus on quality and balance.”

  1. You can save money.

Financially, hiring a contractor gives you flexibility to only pay for the amount of work that needs to be completed at a high quality. Plus, your organization saves on employee benefit costs.

You may not be able to get approval for additional full time employees. If this is the case, outline what the gap is that needs to be filled to help make the case for temporary staffing. Getting approval for a short-term budget increase may in fact be easier to achieve.

  1. Hiring a contractor helps you gauge your long-term staffing needs.

If you hire a contractor, it’s important to make a plan to measure the increased output. By hiring a contractor, you can determine if the workload is a short-term issue, a long-term increase in work, or if it will balance out to part-time work.

“For many organizations, internal approval and budgeting processes can be complex. Using a contractor allows the company to temporarily see if there is a full-time position without the risk of making a hire,” explains Michelle Decker, managing partner for M&B Search Group. “For example, if after the contractor completes two months of work, you may realize that there really isn’t a full time need they can just end the contract at the completion of the project. This allows the company to avoid taking on employment risk. However, if you see that the contractor has added value to their team by allowing employees to work less overtime and focus on more important work, which in turn, gains the company additional revenue, this can justify the need for a full-time employee.”

  1. When there’s turnover or temporary leaves of absence, contractors can quickly come on board to cover the work.

When there is staff turnover, or a long-term employee takes medical or maternity leave, hiring a contractor allows you to quickly bring in talent to cover the work until you can hire the right candidate or your current employee returns from leave. In the cast of turnover, you can also evaluate the contractor to see if you would want to consider them as the long-term option.

According to Decker, contract workers can begin quickly, within the same week of the request by the company. She recommends the following preparations for a smooth transition:

  • Identify and agree on what work needs to be done. This does not need to be a formal job description, but needs to be defined and agreed upon by the team.
    • Decide on who is going to be part of the training process. Most contractors are experienced in the exact kind of work requested, so typically training time is short, but the contractor will still need to be connected to the company systems, processes and people.
    • Be prepared to provide feedback to the contractor through the recruiting firm they were hired by so that this contractor can continue to know they are providing value and can be given additional responsibilities. Also, keep in communication of how long the assignment will be. This will allow the contractor to continue to commit to the project. Also, if you decide you are thinking about hiring the contractor, providing positive feedback will be even more key in helping with their onboarding process.
  1. Contractors can take on short-term projects that require special skills.

“By using a contractor you are getting an expert in their field, someone that can help bring change to an environment, someone who can help drive activity, someone with the knowledge to do more than you are expecting.  A contractor can be identified relatively quickly depending on the job expectations – we keep a consistent pipeline of candidates that are available within our core positions,” says Aebersold.

Special projects may include system conversions, due diligence during mergers/acquisitions, development of a new marketing plan or product launches. Truly, for any need an organization has, there’s a contractor who can help them find success using their honed skills and experience.

Contract staffing is a great solution for businesses looking to navigate periods of transition and growth. Instead of hiring regular staff, consider bringing in a contract employee to fill a gap for a set amount of time, during an especially large or important project or when a regular employee is away on leave.

If you believe contract staffing could be a beneficial strategy to help your organization during the looming economic uncertainty, consulting firms like M&B Search Group can help you determine how to make contract staffing a cost-effective solution for your business.

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