Just like global disruptive events before it, COVID-19 has left many organisations grappling with financial uncertainty and frozen headcounts. On the flipside, the pandemic has forced businesses to completely rethink and adapt business models, which requires significant manpower and flexibility.
During this time of uncertainty, contracting solutions can be an attractive prospect. They offer the opportunity to quickly hire someone with specialist skills to fill a short-term need, without the long-term overheads of bringing a permanent employee on board.
Contract work, or the ‘gig economy’ as its commonly known, has been on the rise in recent years. According to a report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are over a million independent contractors across the nation, making up just under 10% of the employed population. The Michael Page Salary Report also found that employer demand is stronger for flexible work arrangements and contract workers — a trend that is likely to continue growing, particularly in the wake of COVID-19.
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Here are the major benefits organisations see from employing contract workers, both during and after times of global disruption.
1. Find and onboard employees quickly
Contractors can offer a quick solution to any skills shortages within an organisation, particularly when there are specialist skills involved.
Due to the nature of their work, experienced contractors are often available to start at short notice — which is particularly important given the rapid pace of change in the business world as a result of the pandemic. They may be able to onboard and deliver work faster than a permanent employee, who would need to give notice to their existing employer.
The right contractors are also highly skilled in their field of expertise. They provide an immediate solution to skills shortages, without the need for on-the-job training.
2. Provides greater speed and flexibility
In normal times, it’s not uncommon for the need for headcount to shift rapidly in conjunction with the changing needs of a business. During and post-COVID-19, this point is more crucial than ever. As organisations adapt to new business models and readjust their processes, the need for agility and flexibility is essential.
In a volatile market with a high degree of uncertainty, short-term contractors provide the ideal opportunity to assess market shifts and organisational needs on an ongoing basis, rather than committing to new employees permanently. Contract workers support lean business planning, which allows businesses to respond with greater speed and flexibility to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic.
3. Trial new employees or positions
Hiring a new staff member requires significant up-front investment and can be time-consuming. Hiring potential permanent workers initially on a contract basis allows a business to assess how that individual will fit within their company environment and culture. During the contract period, managers can determine whether a candidate is a good fit for the job.
As companies rapidly change and adapt during COVID-19, contractors also provide a testing phase for organisational needs. It provides management with an insight into which roles will be crucial as the business moves forward, and which will become redundant.
4. Give employees shorter notice periods
If an organisation needs to suddenly pivot or experiences a dramatic change, temporary workers don’t require the same notice period as permanent employees. Shorter notice periods mean headcount can be adjusted to suit the changing business needs swiftly, which will be paramount during and after the pandemic.
5. It has a positive impact on the bottom line
Hiring contractors can protect a company’s bottom line precisely at the moment when the bottom line is crucial. Contractors are only paid for the hours worked, without the need for performance rewards, annual leave, or company bonuses.
At the same time, contractors are often paid on a per-project basis. This means businesses pay for productivity and outcomes, rather than for a set number of hours in a week.
Looking to hire contractors? Find more information here, including our FAQs and how to start a hiring conversation.