26th December 2017
There was a time when filling up job vacancies mainly centred on the hiring of full-time or “permanent” employees. Such employees were hired for specific job roles and had to work a minimum number of hours every week, as mandated by the long-term nature of their employment. These employees were committed to one particular organisation till the time they were on the payroll of that establishment. By virtue of their full-time jobs, they enjoyed better job security, earned a monthly salary and garnered additional perks as applicable to their roles and designations. Their regular employment also required them to abide by various rules and regulations as laid down by their companies for their full-time staff.
Compare this traditional recruitment approach with the employment scenario in present times. You will notice that more and more organisations these days are welcoming the idea of contractual hiring or temporary manpower recruitment for their varied assignments, especially the short-terms ones. These independent contractors, also known as freelancers, are a self-employed crop of professionals who offer their skills and services to others in the capacity of a consultant. They work on a number of projects for a variety of clients across industries and business sectors, depending on their interests, domain expertise, experience, and per hour/per project rates. Because these temporary professionals do not add to a company’s headcount, they are fast becoming a popular and cost-effective option for many organisations, in particular for the start-ups who have a limited budget in hand to invest in hiring, operational and other administrative activities.
Considering that both full-time and contract employees have their own pros and cons, determining which of the two employment structures is most viable for one’s business is a dilemma that is commonly faced by many organisations and hiring managers. If you too are planning to hire candidates and are confused about whether to employ a full-time employee or a freelancer, then you can make an informed hiring decision by updating yourself with the key advantages and shortcomings that the two employment categories bring along with them.
Pros and Cons of a Full-time Employee vs. Freelancer
Just the way a candidate looks forward to a full-time job for its security aspect, similarly companies seek full-time employees for their stability and loyalty factors. This is owing to the fact that such employees are less likely to switch jobs frequently, considering the substantial benefits that they receive from their employers in terms of employer-sponsored health insurance/ life insurance, paid vacations, sick leaves, holidays, bonus payouts, retirement benefits etc. - over and beyond their agreed wages.
Because of the short-term nature of their assignments and the fact that freelancers have the freedom to work with multiple clients, these self-employed professionals tend to hop from one client to the other more quickly in comparison to regular employees. Thus, if the role under consideration is one that requires the deployment of niche skills and expertise which cannot be easily backfilled, then a full-time employee may be a better fit for you as opposed to a freelancer who is more likely to explore new opportunities in lure of better pay rates and/or the prospect of bagging long-term work with prospective clients.
‘Time to hire’ is an important metric that decides how fast a company is able to get a candidate on board or lose him or her to competition due to cumbersome hiring formalities. Apart from missing out on deserving candidates, recruitment lag can also lead to disruption of critical business processes for want of timely backfill or adequate resources. Thus, if you have to arrange resources for seasonal demand spikes or one-time activities that need completion within tight deadlines and you do not have the time to indulge in the lengthy process of recruiting a full-time employee, then hiring a freelancer can be a smart choice for you.
Unless they are occupied with ongoing engagements, such individuals can commence work immediately as they do not have to serve any notice period. Moreover, by employing a skilled contractor, you can cut down on the onboarding and training time as the hired person is experienced enough to start contributing to his or her assigned projects with bare minimum guidance or hand-holding. Not only is this recruitment approach considerably swifter and time-saving but it also gives you full control to end the contract once your requirement has been fulfilled.
This is one of the key reasons why more and more business leaders are increasingly exploring the feasibility of hiring freelancers for their short-term and time-bound projects. Recruiting a full-time employee implies providing him or her with a gamut of perks and benefits along with their basic salary. In contrast, employing a freelancer means that you only pay for hourly or fixed rates as agreed upfront before hiring the person for the project. Unlike full-time employees, freelancers bear the expenses of their working tools/software and do not rely on the employer to foot the bill for their equipment. Even if their hourly or flat rates are relatively higher than the estimated rates of in-house employees, they prove to be more economical in the long run, particularly when you consider the ancillary expenses that need to be borne when rolling out offers to permanent employees. Hence, if you have a controlled budget to work with, you should opt for a freelancer to save on the high compensation/benefit costs and other overheads that are typically associated with permanent employees.
Full-time employees generally come with specialisations in specific domains or fields. While their current skills are attuned to their existing job roles, companies often have to invest in additional training to help their regular staff assume bigger and challenging responsibilities for which they are not fully prepared yet. On the other hand, working with freelancers gives organisations the flexibility and opportunity to exploit a wide range of skills and experiences in a cost-effective manner. The wealth of knowledge and exposure of diverse industries and market trends that freelancers bring along with them benefit companies immensely and enable organisations to gain competitive advantage over other players in their specific fields or business sectors.
As evident from the above, opting for a full-time employee or freelancer is a decision that will depend on the distinct needs and dynamics of your business since both the staffing approaches have their own pros and cons to deal with. When it comes to stability and loyalty, full-time employees often outscore their freelance counterparts as the former tend to stick around for long and show more dedication to one employer. However, when it comes to the real-world practicalities of cost containment, aggressive hiring deadlines and the need for an agile and scalable workforce that can be ramped up or ramped down according to volume fluctuations, hiring a freelancer is an optimal option. You can even opt for the best of both worlds by choosing a hybrid model such as contract-to-hire that allows you to engage a contractor for a longer period of time without hiring him or her full-time.
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