Working with contractors – how temporary staff can help build your business
Growing businesses can often find that they lack the resource or skills at times to effectively cope with the demands of an expanding organisation. we find this all the time here at Sochall Smith the Leeds Accountants
Managing this will often mean taking on another permanent employee, promoting or transferring someone from within or simply gritting their teeth and hoping for the best.
There are several problems with these approaches.
Taking on a new permanent member of staff might seem like the best way of coping but although this is probably the best long and medium term solution, in the short term taking on permanent staff to cope with a blip in sales or a project is overkill.
Promoting internally simply moves the problem on to a different area of the business and where extra skills are needed it will take time and often money to get the new post holder up to speed.
Instead of thinking long term, when looking at short term problems managers may like to consider using temporary contractors.
For fairly simple jobs, where the skills are easy to pick up then a temporary worker is an excellent way to plug the gap without giving the company another obligation to employ indefinitely.
But for jobs that require higher level skills and experience, getting in a specialist interim manager or contractor is a no-brainer.
Project work is the ideal situation where contractors can be engaged to bring their knowledge and experience to enhance the business but where they won’t be needed long term.
The position of project manager or implementation specialist is a common one to fill with an external contractor and there is a whole industry of people and companies that concentrate on providing this sort of service to businesses.
As they grow the company might be looking at spending serious money on a new computer system for instance and in this case it might not be a smart move to put the project in the hands of an inexperienced employee. Complex projects require high level skills and it is probably a better idea to bring in a contractor and appoint an internal person as their deputy so they can learn on the job but in a safe environment.
From a financial standpoint bringing in an interim manager makes sense. A very expensive project can be derailed by avoiding what would be a relatively small extra cost. The contractor will probably know a series of tips and tricks that will save the company time and money and they will generally be costing a lot less than using the suppliers’ implementation resources.
For the company, a project is a time of change and often upheaval, what the organisation doesn’t want to do is to add to that by moving people out of their usual jobs and onto a project. From a business continuity standpoint it is much better to bring in extra resource to manage the situation.
Businesses often find that they face very short term situations that need specialist expertise or just an amount of hours work to see them through. Typical examples would be year-end, audit time, moving or adding new premises and times when the company faces new demands from a regulator or funder.
Contractors are able to offer a level of confidence that comes with experience that not only allows the Directors to know that a project is going well but also gives the permanent staff comfort that change may not be a bad thing.
If we take the example of moving premises, although this is a big, once in a decade situation for an individual business, they may be able to source a contractor who has seen it all before. Having that kind of experience means that the move can be seen as simple process that needs to be gone through rather than the big frightening prospect that it may appear at first sight.
Some businesses operate in a regulated industry. Care businesses, financial services, travel agents and water companies are just a few examples of firms that face reporting to an external body.
Often regulators will impose different reporting or licensing requirements on the businesses they are responsible for and this will require the firms concerned to adjust their procedures to meet the needs. This is exactly where an industry specialist can help.
Contractors need to have a focus on achievement and completion. They also in general have an optimistic and positive slant on work. This kind of ‘can-do’ attitude tends to transfer to permanent staff who see that a different outlook can pay dividends. Businesses notice a change in the mind-set of staff that continues long after the contractor has moved on.
Employing temporary staff is an excellent option for businesses who are facing a short term issue that they need to solve. Contractors bring the experience, attitude and skills that the firm needs whilst being cost effective and allowing the company to flex their employment costs as needed.
If you find yourself facing a business problem that looks too difficult to solve then perhaps you should look at bringing in an interim solution.