For many businesses, remote work may have seemed to be a foreign idea just a few years ago. With technology and the world’s response to a global pandemic, though, workforce borders have opened up in many ways. Companies have learned that work doesn’t need to happen in offices to be done well.
With that realization has come another one: Work doesn’t necessarily have to be done by employees of the business. Freelance workers are an increasingly viable option as work locations become more flexible.
Those who do freelance work are often referred to as contractors. What exactly are contractors? They are short-term or even long-term workers who can fulfill the needs of a business for specific projects. As self-employed or independent workers, these non-employees are contracted to do work on your behalf.
There are several benefits to hiring a contractor, and doing so could help increase the productivity and efficiency of your team. Would hiring contractors work for your business? Here are some factors to consider when hiring contractors.
We’ve all read the news reports about businesses having a tough time hiring employees right now. By opening positions to contractors — particularly remote ones — you can broaden the pool of candidates available to you. With the trend toward a more global market, you could even hire contractors in different countries.
This could be especially helpful if your company does business internationally. You might also hire foreign contractors if a particular project requires your team to have an understanding of different languages and cultures. These types of contractors give you access to skills on a short-term basis that you might not need year-round. Just be sure you use international hiring guides to make sure you stay in compliance with the countries in which you hire.
At different times it might make sense for your company to increase or decrease the number of hands-on decks. If your company’s personnel needs tend to ebb and flow, hiring contractors may be beneficial. For example, your e-commerce business might require additional customer service reps, but only over the holiday shopping season. Because contractors are independent workers, their contracts can be for as long or short as you need them to be.
If soliciting and combing through résumés sounds onerous, you can engage a staffing agency or recruiting firm to find qualified contractors. These firms can save you time and help you fill your roles quickly with talented individuals. Different agencies may specialize in specific industries; let them do the vetting to find your top talent.
Because contractors are considered self-employed, you won’t be on the hook for benefits. This means you won’t have to budget for things like health insurance, retirement, or paid time off. If you hire through a recruiting firm, they sometimes will offer the contractor benefits for purchase through them.
Benefits are costly to a company, so the potential for cost savings in this area is huge. Your company can also save time and money when using a recruiting firm, especially if you’re a small business with limited HR capacity. You can leave the résumé screening, interviewing, and assessment testing to such firms, freeing up your employees’ time for other tasks.
While utilizing contractors can allow you to quickly add and subtract from your team, you need to consider your future needs. Contractors with specialized skills — web development, digital marketing, etc — can be brought on to help with initiatives you have on the horizon.
That said, consider whether you’ll need someone fulfilling a role for a long time or hope to grow your team. If you’re looking for longevity and growth in a certain position, it may be better to hire a permanent employee. Though it may cost more in offering benefits, the stability and long-term return for your business may be worth it.
Hiring for Values
Though a contractor role is a temporary one, it’s important to hire with the same care you would any position with your company. These individuals are performing work on behalf of your company along with your full-time employees. More than that, they may be working with your business partners and customers.
Consequently, you’ll want to make sure your contractors embody the same values your organization does. It’s also important for contractors to align with your company’s culture. If you’re doing the hiring yourself, check references and interview with care, either in person or via videoconferencing. If you hire through a staffing agency, ensure the recruiter knows your values and the characteristics you seek in your ideal candidate.
Getting the Details Right
As the term implies, working with contractors entails a contract. This document should specify the job duties, compensation, and length of the term. Be sure all parties are in agreement before work begins. It is also a good idea to establish a model for providing feedback.
In addition to making sure your contractor is delivering as promised, keep up your end of the deal. Stick to the hours of work you laid out. Pay on time. Provide feedback as needed. For a contractor arrangement to go well, both parties need to work together in good faith.
When deciding whether hiring contractors makes sense for your business, consider the costs and benefits — as with any business decision. Depending on your business needs, a contractor could be just what you’ve been looking for to boost your efficiency and productivity. What’s great about the current landscape is that you can find workers with the skills you need in every corner of the world.