Temporary, interim and permanent employees: which is right for you?

By Robert Half 1st June 2017

Large-scale projects and rapidly expanding teams signify exciting times for any company. They also mean that employees need more support than ever if they’re going to stay productive and loyal.

Making smart recruitment decisions when filling the gaps in your 2017 hiring plan isn’t just a case of finding someone with the right skills, it’s also finding a good fit for the team, the company and the role on offer. That could mean the stability of a full-time, permanent employee, or the niche, flexible skills of a temporary freelancer. Recognising which type of employee is the best fit could mean the difference between success and lagging results, employee satisfaction or a culture of disquiet.

In this current skills shortage, in-demand candidates are not on the market for long. Avoid missing out on the best candidate for the role and read this helpful guide to understand the key differences between permanent, interim and temporary employees and how to make the most of each.

Temporary employees

The temporary employee market is growing fast, with increasing numbers of professionals seeking more career flexibility, a wider range of experience, or a foot in the door with desirable companies.

Why do companies hire temporary employees?

  • Flexibility
    The flexibility of temporary staff means you’re able to support your existing in-house team far more effectively. It gives you the luxury of taking the pressure off during busy periods and also gives you access to the right talent for each project.
  • Speed-to-hire
    As temporary employees had shorter notice periods, they are often immediately available, meaning you could interview them one day and have them start the next.

Disadvantages:

  • Taking a risk
    Until you have that good relationship, and know they can be relied upon, working with a temporary employee comes with a fair amount of trepidation. But with the right brief and description of the type of support you need, you can help to alleviate this by working with temporary employees who are experienced with your type of assignment.

Interim professionals or contractors

A recent report by IPSE has revealed that there are 2 million freelancers and self-employed individuals in the UK, representing specialist skills across every industry. They’re people who have realised that they can lend more value to companies by joining a blended workforce temporarily. As an employer, this means you have a valuable pool of talent within easy reach, ready to call in when you need it.

Why do companies hire interim employees and contractors?

  • Cost-effective
    Although you might find that the hourly rate of an interim professional is higher, their flexibility means you can scale up or down depending on the requirements you have week-on-week. Because contractors require minimal training and have rates that are inclusive of taxes, benefits and NHS contributions, you’ll find that there’s great potential for long-term savings.
  • A fresh perspective
    Regularly working in close confines with the same individuals can often lead to the stagnation of ideas. Bringing a highly skilled professional in for short-term projects is a shot of new inspiration and industry-level best practice, which will help you think outside your usual comfort zone.
  • Access to specialist skills
    This is particularly key as businesses undertake more project-based work, for example, meeting new compliance and regulation standards or implementing ERP systems. Tapping into the interim market allows companies to bring in specific skills that aren’t available in-house for a specific duration.

Disadvantages

  • You’ll need to be more adaptable
    Interim professionals often seek a more flexible schedule compared to permanent employees. Although this can be incredibly beneficial, it also requires a healthy dose of adaptability on your part.
    Planning in advance, outlining expectations and working fluidly to accommodate the extra help can be draining if you aren’t organised or don’t prepare a comprehensive brief.
  • Lower emotional investment
    Despite their niche skills and passion for what they do, these professionals are solely focused on the challenge at hand. It’s unlikely they’ll want to be a part of the charity committee, encouraging team-building activities or long-term employee wellness as much as permanent employees would.

Related: 5 benefits of hiring interim professionals

Permanent employees

A permanent employee is one that occupies a full-time role in-house. They’re a long-term investment and are the stable building blocks of any successful company.

Why do companies hire permanent employees?

  • Stability
    Who wouldn’t want a strong, loyal team supporting all their initiatives? Permanent employees aren’t just a reliable individual within a team, they also contribute to the stability of the team as a whole, stepping in to help out when other employees are off sick or away.
  • Availability
    Planning for long-term projects and strategies is far easier when you know you have unlimited access to specific individuals during office hours. Unlike a temporary employee, you can rest assured that you have someone occupying that crucial space within the team, long-term.
  • Building a company culture
    When it comes to fostering happiness within the company, a positive culture plays as much of a part as helping individuals reach their career goals. Every full-time hire you make is a contribution towards the dynamic of your company and your team—a social investment!
  • Better understanding of requirements
    Each role comes with its own set of expectations. A permanent staff member is going to have a far better understanding of what’s expected of them, and will be far more committed to meeting those expectations. This includes company processes and alignment to company goals and team targets.

Disadvantages:

  • Heavy investment
    The right employees come equipped with passion and drive. Everything else need to come from you! Investing in training and supporting permanent team members can be time consuming but will ultimately build a team of happy, engaged, productive people.
  • The risk of a ‘bad’ hire
    When you hire for a long-term, permanent role, you have to be sure that you select the right candidate as the cost of a bad hire can extend beyond the individual. The knock-on effect could be lower staff morale, lost productivity and of course the monetary costs of having to replace the employee.

Related: The 3 serious consequences of a bad hire

A flexible recruitment strategy: the best of all three

For many organisations, the best approach for their workforce is a combination of all three types of employee.

A truly flexible staffing plan involves a dynamic mix of permanent employees and highly skilled temporary professionals. Businesses of all sizes can use this mix to scale staff up or down based on workload demands.

A flexible recruiting strategy allows you time to think more holistically, rather than overloading your current team when a vacancy or new project crops up. You also won’t need to search for additional fixed cost allowance to hire a new permanent employee.

A blended workforce gives you a chance to consider how your needs may have changed since a position was last filled. You’ll also have the freedom to decide whether a new project is best addressed with 100 percent full-time hires or a mix of permanent and interim talent.

Being savvy with regard to the hiring process in general can help you avoid any negative attitudes or personality clashes hurting your company dynamic.

Now that you’re armed with an overview of the disadvantages and advantages of all three employee types, look at your long-term plans and decide which is the right fit for your company, team, role and the individual in question. There’s a plethora of talent on offer in both temporary, interim and permanent roles, all you need to do is know which is the best solution this time around.

More From the Blog...