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  • Annette Corbett

Shifting perspectives: Contractors are more than just a band aid

You might be surprised to know that, although contractors are temporary hires, they require all the romancing of a permanent hire.

The concept that contractors are purely "in it for the money" is wildly inaccurate and outdated. Most contractors I know are at the top of their game; ambitious, experienced, highly-skilled and continuously developing and evolving.

...and you wouldn't proposition Thor with a rubber hammer, would you?

The ephemeral contract hire

When the cry goes up for a contractor, the minimum value they’re expected to deliver might look like this:

  • Expertise: contractors can provide a breadth of skills.. Adept in helping to kick-off a project or smooth the transition of product delivery; coaching their colleagues on best practice or specialised training

  • Innovation and fresh perspectives: contractors can bring new ideas and approaches, injecting dynamism into projects and stimulating creativity within teams, without appearing to threaten the status quo

  • Cost-effectiveness and hiring agility: a day rate contractor won’t qualify for corporate benefits, nor do they get paid for holidays or sickness. Hiring processes tend to be more expedient with recruitment signed off inside of a week.

But a contractor can be much more than a band-aid

We’re often hired to co-ordinate projects, cover an absence, plug a gap in skills or resource and sometimes asked to perform miracles (one contract I was hired into had a brief to deliver an intranet in 8 weeks, with zero stakeholder engagement or requirements gathering taken place).

And while we’re usually hired as a solution to a problem (or miracle performing mage) contractors are, in fact, disruptors and innovators, not just a knee-jerk temporary hire. We are strategic partners with the ability to add tangible, long-term value to the organisations we work for.

Thinking forwards…

The contracting community is made up of a diverse range of people; many of whom are at the "mature" end of the age scale (how else do you get to be experienced?!). I’ve read a disturbing amount of posts recently about how this age bracket is overlooked in recruitment drives, presumably due to the many misconceptions formed in ageist attitudes.

McKinsey reported that women, particularly women of colour, are sidestepped for promotion.

D&I initiatives shouldn’t focus only on permanent hires, but that of the contracting contingent who are as - if not more - invested in delivering value during their tenure.

In the future, I hope organisations re-evaluate their hiring strategies to enable longer-term, strategic contractor relationships, but, in the meantime, I’ll keep banging my drum about the value of contractors to both sides of the fence.

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