Could contractors help your business out of a staffing crisis?

Independent contractors come under many names here in the US. Freelancers, consultants, 1099 contractors or interim staff are just some of the terms with which you may be familiar.

Whatever your preferred term (I’ll be using a few!), there’s no denying that contracting has become more popular in recent years, both among employers and candidates. As unemployment reaches historic lows in the US, a recent poll showed interim staff now hold one in five American jobs. Meanwhile, MBO Partners estimated 54 million people in the country would be working as independent contractors by 2020.

But what are the advantages for businesses? How can you maximize the effectiveness of contractors? And what are the main challenges of hiring the right person? Let’s try to answer these questions.

The key benefits of using contractors

Independent contractors enable you to add skilled, flexible human resources to bridge various workforce gaps. However, finding the right fit for your organisation can depend on how you intend to use interim staff. Here are the main benefits:

Access to subject matter expertise

Talent shortages are on the rise in the US, which is likely to have a significant impact on financial services in the coming years. The Korn Ferry Institute predicts the nation will suffer an economic shortfall of a staggering $435.7 billion by 2030 due to labor shortages within the sector.

Organizations struggling to secure and retain individuals with crucial subject matter expertise for their permanent headcounts often turn to interim staff to deliver much-needed skills on a temporary basis. This can be essential in disciplines where there is a global shortage of qualified candidates, such as cyber security.

Facilitate project work and BAU tasks

Projects may be unexpected, like cyber-attacks, or planned well in advance, such as future regulatory changes or end-of-year audit cycles.

Nevertheless, contractors can support a business in two important ways in these situations; they either provide direct assistance on the project itself, or they handle BAU duties in order to free up permanent employees for more value-added tasks.

How each firm manages their interim resource typically depends on the skillsets already available in the workforce and the urgency or longevity of the project. Reliable sickness and maternity cover

We’re undoubtedly a hard-working nation. One-quarter of US employees admitted they have previously worked during paid time off while sick, and 13 per cent have continued working even when on parental leave. But even with conscientious personnel at the helm, you still require skilled cover to take over when key staff members take time off.

This is where highly qualified interim staff come to the rescue. Organizations are becoming increasingly comfortable using independent contractors to fill even their most senior positions, with around 3.3 million earning over $100,000 a year, according to MBO Partners.

How to integrate contractors effectively

Even the best interim staff can only achieve results if they are given the right environment in which to flourish. You can gain maximum value from contractors by following a few simple steps:

1. Prepare a comprehensive onboarding process

Independent contractors are expected to hit the ground running, and most are adept at slotting seamlessly into many types of business. However, that doesn’t mean you should forgo an induction process for interim staff.

In fact, the best way to incentivize any worker is to make them feel a welcome part of the team. You can do this by:

  • Informing staff that a contractor is starting, including telling people their name and what function they are fulfilling;
  • Setting aside a workspace with the necessary office equipment to get started, including access to internal systems. Don’t overlook the little things;
  • Conducting a formal contractor induction through HR;
  • Performing an office tour and meet and greet session with the appropriate team members or department heads; and
  • Carrying out a thorough debrief in which the contractor’s responsibilities and timeliness are clearly established.

2. Maintain regular one-to-ones

Contractors often have the initiative to perform tasks without constant supervision, but you should still have frequent one-to-ones with interim staff to ensure everything stays on track.

These meetings will also help identify any problems the contractor is facing before they snowball and jeopardize projects. As such, regular one-to-ones are recommended, giving both you and the contractor time to make adjustments where necessary. The length of the contract is likely to influence how often meetings occur, but at least once a month is desirable.

Avoid trying to micromanage contractors, and instead simply provide a supportive environment where they feel comfortable asking for support.

3. Find the right contractor for the job

This may sound obvious, but landing a candidate who has the perfect mix of skills and experience can be a significant challenge for businesses without direct access to the best talent.

After all, skills shortages mean the top interim staff have a certain amount of flexibility in choosing their next placement. Nearly half of independent contractors in the US rank a company’s culture as ‘extremely important’ in selecting a place to work, so you may wish to consider what you’re bringing to the table.

You should also perform a thorough cost-benefit analysis before beginning the search for a contractor to ensure you are making the right decision. Interim workers are typically paid much more than permanent staff, but they can help you save considerable time, resources and money when used effectively.

How Barclay Simpson can help

We are a specialist recruitment firm that excels in placing highly skilled professionals into both permanent and interim vacancies at corporate governance departments throughout the Americas.

The Barclay Simpson team covers interim needs across:

  • Risk management;
  • Internal audit and compliance; and
  • Information and cybersecurity.

Our interim solutions have helped businesses overcome numerous challenges in the banking and financial services sector, including regulatory change, complex project work, workforce shortages and BAU tasks.

We pride ourselves on offering:

  • A proven track record of finding the best interim candidates for businesses;
  • Comprehensive industry expertise and access to niche market skills;
  • A sophisticated background checking system and testimonials highlighting successful placements; and
  • The ability to handle invoicing and payroll requirements.


Would you like to know more? Please contact me today on +1 212 786 7490 or via email at


Photo by Ali Arif Soydaş on Unsplash

Photo by Mark Asthoff on Unsplash