Do uncertain times call for a break from your usual hiring strategies? When it comes to Brexit and recruitment, we are certainly seeing an increase in employers querying the pros and cons of contract versus permanent hires.

The uncertainty of Brexit certainly has many employers stuck in limbo. Is it worthwhile getting a contractor in for now? Or shall we wait it out a little longer? Will a contractor hire even fulfill my needs?

As always, it’s not that straightforward.

Summarising Pros & Cons
Permanent Hires Contract Hires
Long-term strategy

Skills aligned with processes & values

Contribute to culture

L&D / training costs

Hiring process CAN be lengthy

HR/tax/payroll/benefits costs

Dependable workforce

Short-term projects / urgent hire

Niche skillsets

Can be a distraction

Can hit the ground running

Speedy hiring process

Higher day rate

Workforce flexibility

Contract v Perm employees – the pros & cons

The pros of contractors are often the cons of permanent employees and vice versa. So instead of listing the pros and cons of each, we’ve listed common business requirements and given a verdict on which one may be best.

Access to highly skilled staff

Contractors have taken the risky step of working for themselves. They back their skills and experience to get hired, time and again, and so you will often find the contractor pool full of candidates with coveted CVs and skillsets you may not be able to access on the permanent market.

Permanent staff are more likely to understand how to apply their skills to their company processes and values. And employers can upskill workers with the precise skills they need. However, this takes time.

However, as we discuss in our blog, Brexit and Recruitment: Are we facing a contractor bubble? in the wake of Brexit finding permanent staff with the right skillsets – or those that can adapt – is likely to prove much more difficult.

Our verdict: contractors

When culture is important

Hiring for cultural fit is increasingly important for businesses, who are beginning to recognise the effect it can have on business productivity and a company’s overall success, contractors can be hired to slot in with teams, but the fleeting nature of their work means that they can’t contribute long-term to company culture.

The verdict: permanent staff

Speed of Hire

Permanent hiring is often associated with a drawn-out recruitment process, yet it need not be. With tools such as video interviewing and effective screening for both skillsets and cultural fit, time-to-hire can be as little as three weeks.

However, that figure reduces to just 48 hours for contract staff. And contract staff don’t have notice periods.

The verdict: contractors IF the role is truly urgent

Investing in your future

A business is only as successful as its people. Whilst a contractor can help your business achieve goals, they take their skills – and any further experience they gain from delivering the project – with them.

The verdict: permanent staff

Hit the ground running

Contractors are brought in to deliver projects, generally for periods of six months or less. They’re therefore adept at hitting the ground running, without any onboarding process.

Our verdict: contractors

A job that may ruffle some feathers

Contractors are not there to build long-term relationships. Yes, they need to be able to build relationships with teams. However, sometimes difficult tasks – like change management or restructuring – are best delivered by someone from outside the organisation.

Our verdict: contractors

Costs

This is a close call. Contractors charge more for their expertise and the uncertainty of potential weeks or months without employment.

However, contractors can sometimes save businesses money. For starters, the real cost of a permanent employee comes with an additional third on top of their salary, by the time taxes, national insurance, pension contributions and holidays are factored in. Add to this the ability to scale up or down without employees waiting idly for something to do (and checking their phone for the fifth time that hour), then suddenly the gap doesn’t seem as wide.

The verdict: a draw

Brexit will certainly add a new challenge to employers already facing a skills gap. The pros and cons of contract v perm hires suddenly become much more challenging when there simply aren’t the permanent candidates there to fulfil the roles, leaving contract candidates to fill roles usually outside their remit.

Find out whether your organisation is ready to face Brexit and recruitment challenges that may arise with our Brexit Recruitment Checklist. It covers all the employment areas you need to consider – from immigration and qualifications to recruitment planning and more.