In recent years, the number of employers looking to hire contract and temporary employees has risen drastically. A poll conducted by National Public Radio (NPR) and Marist found that one in five American jobs are held by a worker under contract. Within a decade, contract hires and freelance positions are predicted to make up half the workforce. As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the clinical research workforce continue to reshape our industry, understanding these types of flexible hiring practices is becoming increasingly important for all leaders.
What is Contract-to-Hire?
It’s not uncommon for companies and candidates alike to be skeptical of how a contract-to-hire employment situation works. In short, a “contract-to-hire” or “temp-to-hire” position is one in which a candidate is initially hired temporarily, but with the intention of becoming permanent if they perform well during their temp status.
It is important to not confuse contract-to-hire positions with direct hire positions. Direct hire opportunities bring candidates on permanently and skip the temporary employee phase altogether. Contract-to-hire roles may be an intriguing option for candidates and managers alike who are looking for opportunities for flexibility.
Benefits of a Contract-to-Hire Workforce at Clinical Research Sites
Trial Period: Hiring a new full-time team member is a big commitment for your organization and it is also a drastic life change for the employee. It has happened to every employer: you go through a lengthy hiring process, use valuable time and resources training a promising new employee, only to realize they are not going to be a fit long-term. You want to make sure that a candidate has the necessary skills and is a good culture fit before employing them directly. Employee turnover is expensive.
The benefit of contract-to-hire also extends to the candidate. The modern employee wants flexibility in their work-life — and no one wants to be stuck in a job where they are not a good fit. The short-term nature of a contract-to-hire position gives the employee a trial run of both their position and the company. If they are not enjoying the role or simply are not a culture fit, they can move on to something else after their contract has ended — without any lasting negative impact on either party.
Budget-friendly: When working with a restrained budget, contract-to-hire positions can offer a monetary advantage. A major benefit of contract-to-hire positions is that they can give companies the time they need to work a new full-time employee into the budget while still getting the work done. Employees in a contract-to-hire position typically do not receive benefits and will not be eligible for a healthcare plan or retirement savings contributions until they become a full-time employee at the end of the contract. Additionally, contract hires are typically only paid for the specific hours they work rather than receiving a fixed salary.
Adaptable Workforce: With newer positions, a company may not be sure if a resource is truly needed or if the rest of the team can pick up the slack. In some cases, if a position depends on winning a key account, a company may want to use a contract-to-hire agreement in case the business does not pan out. Being over-staffed and paying salaries and benefits for employees you may not need is a risk. At the same time, employers do not want to risk being understaffed and unable to complete your current workload. Contract staffing allows your business to avoid these two extremes by meeting your exact capacity — especially when it fluctuates due to seasonal or project-based needs.
Fresh Perspectives: Hiring contract employees can bring new ideas to the table. Is your current team stuck on a particular task and can’t seem to move forward? A contract employee can offer a fresh set of eyes on the task which could lead you to the solution you have been searching for! The challenges sites face on a regular basis can often be compounded by ingrained cultural and process issues. Injecting variety into the process can help, while still providing the cushion of a trial period in case the hire is not a match.
To see success with contract-to-hire positions, it is vital to work with experienced clinical research recruiters who have taken the time to understand your company and its culture. This helps to ensure that the candidates they place have the highest potential to be aligned with your long-term workforce goals. If you feel like you need that additional time to assess an employee’s skills and personality before committing to a full-time arrangement, contract-to-hire positions may be a solution for your site’s hiring needs.
Note: This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 edition of SCRS InSite: The Global Journal for Clinical Research Sites.
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