By Thembi Nkosi, Executive Director at Mindworx Consulting
In current economic conditions, companies are having to get creative in how they manage their workforce; balancing the budget with the need for the best possible brains for the job. One such way is the move to a blended recruitment model that relies on recruiting contract workers as well as permanent staff.
Historically, recruiting part-time personnel was a Band-Aid reserved for the times when Becky from reception went on maternity leave or the perfect recruit hadn’t yet been found. But a coordinated approach to employing workers on a part-time, or project-related, basis would ensure that you remain skills-efficient and financially-savvy; positioning your business with a broader base of specialised skills.
The five biggest advantages of employing specialist contractors include:
1. Employment flexibility
In a lagging economy, employing contract workers provide companies with greater flexibility to respond to the change in supply and demand, without having to commit to a significant permanent workforce and the associated payroll.
2. Access to more specialised skills
Having a contract worker with a specialised skill set makes phenomenal business sense. During certain projects, you may need a specific skill for a portion thereof and employing someone permanently would result in that position being made redundant. The benefit of the skills and knowledge exchange to your permanent staff, though difficult to quantify, could be immeasurable.
3. Financial savings
Without the need to pay for medical aid and other benefits, your business could make significant savings.
4. Scope for development
Employing temporary staff could allow you to research and roll out new products, projects and innovations without tying up and placing a strain on your existing workforce.
5. ‘Try before you buy’ flexibility
For roles crucial to the success of the business, or those prone to attracting unsuitable candidates, hiring a candidate on contract could allow the business time to assess recruits before offering a permanent role.
There are, however, a few things to consider before you go ahead and change your staff engagement model completely:
1. Get buy-in
When considering a blended model of recruitment, the business needs stakeholder buy-in across the board and particularly by the human resources department. Consistency is key and the same appointment and screening process needs to be followed for contract workers as for permanent staff to ensure successful placements.
2. ‘Trying’ without ‘buying’
Know the law in terms of fixed contracts and probationary period contracts. Employing contract workers and treating them like permanent employees and implying that there would be permanent employment will leave you hard-pressed to defend yourself if you are challenged with ‘reasonable expectation’ by the employee.
3. Amendments to the Labour Relations Act
These came into effect in 2015 to protect workers placed by labour brokers, from exploitation. The long and the short of it is that a temporary worker on a fixed-term contract longer than three months, earning under a prescribed amount, becomes a permanent worker with the same protection under the labour act as permanent staff, unless there are justifiable reasons for doing so. Therefore, contract workers cannot be employed indefinitely.
4. B-BBEE requirements
Employing contract workers should never be a way of circumventing B-BBEE requirements. Fronting or a deliberate or attempted circumvention of the B-BBEE Act and the Codes carries significant fines for the employer. Ask us if you are not sure.
5. Higher rates
Contractors often cost more per hour than permanent employees, but there will still be a saving in other costs, like the benefits.
If employee loyalty and confidentiality is an integral part of your business, you may decide not to fill your key positions with contract workers.
How do we help you negotiate the complexities of a blended model of recruitment?
Mindworx offers flexible and skilled staffing solutions for innovation and large scale change projects. An example of our flexibility is that we can source senior executives on an interim basis. On the skills front, we have a vast network of seasoned contract resources and interim managers so we are able to respond quickly to our clients’ immediate demands for skills.
We focus on carefully assessing our candidates so we are able to accurately match them to specific needs and culture. The core of our contracting business is focused on business and IT alignment. As a result, we are adept at sourcing and assessing contract resources with a focus on innovation projects with a strong IT component.