Skilled, in-demand specialists often prefer not to be tied down to permanent employment

Findings from our recent survey show that 73 per cent plan to hire for short-term, temporary and interim roles in the next six months.  This compares to 35 per cent for the same period last year – more than double in 12 months.  As the economy continues to improve, organisations are increasingly turning to contract workers to fill a skills gap internally or because a permanent hire isn’t necessary. The roles coming on stream are many and varied. Currently, the most in-demand professionals are business analysts, project managers, finance professionals, senior marketing staff and specialist banking professionals within the regulatory, compliance and risk space.  Contractors with specific skills and previous experience in these areas are proving the ideal option for short-term regulatory projects.

When there is an urgent need for staff, contract hires can be a cost-effective way to get people, who can hit the ground running, on board quickly.  There is no need for training as many are highly qualified and skilled in their field of expertise, with the majority possessing previous contract experience. Some are “serial contractors”, choosing contract-only work, instead of permanent employment.  Having developed specialist skills in a particular industry, through a variety of companies and projects, they need little workplace adaptation – if any.

Try before you buy

Others remain more flexible about their career options, and use contract work to get a feel for a job or company.  Employers get the opportunity to trial people, who may be ideal for a role that may become permanent.  The “try before you buy” mentality sits comfortably with many of our customers and in fact, they rate this as one of biggest advantages of hiring contract staff.  Hiring contract workers is also useful for hiring managers who don’t have the budget to increase permanent headcount towards the end of the financial year.  The fact that a company can invoice contract staff as a service, rather than headcount, is attractive to many companies.

Due to the volume of work available for contractors, many are registering as a limited company, meaning they manage all their personal tax and holidays. The flexibility of contract work means companies can tailor their staffing needs depending on seasonal requirements and live projects. Our survey found that contract staff are being hired for short periods, to work on specific projects and for longer-term contracts of up to two years, depending on the company’s requirement.

So, what are the drawbacks? Even though contractors are not strictly employees, it is important that they feel included in the business.  Managers should treat contractors as they would any other staff member. Include them in internal communications for example, and invite them to company social events.  As with any employee, they will want to feel that they are a valued part of the business and this will have a knock-on effect on productivity and helps maintain a good atmosphere.

Going down the contractor route is sometimes deemed expensive. However, it is important to bear in mind that contractors are usually exceptional employees with skills and experience that can be put to good use, making significant changes that can improve a business quickly.  Combine this with the various savings, made in the form of employer PRSI, benefits like pensions or health insurance, sick or holiday pay; and hiring a contractor can start to make sense.

This article was featured in the Sunday Business Post on 15th December 2015. Should you require advice on employing contract staff, or using contract staff to further your career call us now on 01-661 87 40 for a confidential discussion or email [email protected]