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The Era of Contractual Work

An Emerging Labour Trend

The Era of Contractual Work

By Joe Issid
Monster Contributing Writer

Several months ago, I had discussed the virtues of changing jobs every 4 years and how employee loyalty in the modern workplace appears to be on the decline. The generation of company lifers is on the way out, replaced by industry agnostic workers who are not afraid to periodically auction their skills on the open market. As such, it is not uncommon for the resume of the average 30-year-old to contain 3 or 4 significant employment experiences. This has become de rigueur. Additionally, a related and steadily increasing trend has been the prevalence of the contractual (or freelance) market. More and more companies are interested in hiring specialised resources to perform a finite number of tasks across a finite period of time. But why?

Temporary Needs
Companies look to hire contractual workers as a means of filling a temporary need with a highly specialised resource. For example, a local retail store owner does not have the steady need to keep a web designer on his staff. However, when he would like to update his web site, he can reach out to the local freelance community and fill his temporary need easily. These scenarios can also scale to larger industries. During my years spent at a global video game publisher, it was extremely common for us to hire consulting teams to assist with short-term projects that we were not equipped to handle internally. No matter the size of the company, there are always going to be areas that require additional external expertise.
Core vs Non-Core
A key question that employers need to ask themselves is whether they need to have employees or whether they simply need to have a task performed. With the explosion of the virtual employment market over recent years, finding resources to perform non-core functions for your business has become extremely accessible. As a small business owner, most of my non-core business functions are performed by virtual, freelance workers. This greatly reduces my operating costs and allows me to remain extremely flexible and agile.
Limited Liability
Employers assume a great deal of responsibility when hiring a full-time employee. In particular, for small businesses, taking on a full-time salary can be an overwhelming: the tax and benefit implications alone can be great barriers. It is increasingly attractive for a small business owner to engage a freelancer as these risks and liabilities are greatly reduced.
Professional Freedom
 As mentioned above, the emergence of the virtual marketplace has given the average worker many more professional options. It has also given employers a vastly increased talent pool from which to find talent. From an employee’s perspective, being a freelancer allows for a dynamic and constantly-changing professional landscape. In an era of reduced company loyalty and increased job promiscuity, this is a work model that is being strongly embraced by the Millennial Generation.
The underlying motivator for all business is cost. While a freelancer may typically command a higher hourly rate, the overall cost of delivering a project is often much lower than having a dedicated full-time member of staff. Keep in mind that freelancers are not employees; they are business owners themselves. They are hardworking, motivated and they understand that their livelihood depends on executing projects well. As such, it is in their best interest to produce quality work in a condensed timeframe.
Specialised skill sets
Perhaps the greatest benefit to hiring a contractual worker is that they have a very specialised skill set that can be closely matched to the project that you are looking to complete. The advantages of having a plug-and-play resource are immeasurable: employers do not have to spend costly time and money on training a consultant to perform the tasks at hand as they are able to actively seek out candidates who already have the required expertise.
Regardless of the size of the business or the industry, contractual work is increasing rapidly. The evolution of the virtualised office is promoting this trend, making it increasingly easier for employers to find specialised resources and for freelancers to provide quality work for needy clients. All signs indicate that this employment sector will continue to grow in the near future.

“Joe Issid is the Managing Editor at theScrib.com. If you would like to contact him directly, feel free to send an email to joe@thescrib.com.”