A trend we’ve seen gain popularity is the concept of ‘renting’ employees. Companies have found that, often, it is beneficial to hire freelance experts or outsource entire teams for one-time purposes, than to hire full-time resources that will most likely become expendable to the organisation once the job has been done. It can be said that it is the HR counterpart of the ‘just in time’ concept, where the resources are hired on a need-basis, thereby reducing the cost to company.
It is a win-win for freelancers and companies involved, as companies get their services as and when they need it, while not having to deal with the tedious procedure of hiring permanent employees or dealing with dismissals later on. It also suits freelancers, who seek to pursue other objectives too, while earning a living.
Contractual employment helps augment the workforce when the need is short term—like when a company requires additional resources for a single project, but does not want to expand its capacity permanently. It creates flexibility for the employer and freelancer, and enables both to pursue their larger goals. Employers can tap into niche, expert talent on a need-basis, leading to greater versatility. This no-strings-attached concept makes it easier to comply with regulations, while ensuring that the core culture and values of the organisation are stable and long term.
What we do at Dale Carnegie India is an example of the success of such a strategy. To meet our training requirements, we have hired trainers on a freelance basis. This gives them the flexibility to explore other avenues of work and pursue own goals, while providing them an opportunity to work with us on a programme-wise basis. It saves us the task of hiring full-time trainers, which would be underutilised if hired permanently. This arrangement allows us to meet our training needs as and when they arise, and has enabled us to explore business opportunities we didn’t have the capacity to fulfil with our limited resources. It also saves us the cost and effort of getting a full-time employee on board. Moreover, we are able to access a wider diversity of talent.
During the global financial crisis, many European companies engaged in ‘lending’ and ‘borrowing’ employees for certain duration. At the time, most organisations were refraining from increasing their capacity, but their need for certain skills existed. Other organisations that had the resources would ‘lend’ their employees to the ones that needed them for a temporary period, preventing layoffs. This helped tackle the issue of unemployment and saved organisations from having to incur the excess cost associated with hiring a full-time team for a single requirement.
While this solution of ‘renting’ employees presents all the previously illustrated benefits, it is vital that organisations who adopt such practices do so tactfully. In the end, individuals they hire on contract will still be contributing to the productivity of their companies and they need to ensure they are satisfied and engaged. Findings from Dale Carnegie Training India’s Employee Engagement Study (2014) revealed that one of the emotional attributes of engagement is feeling valued. As such, organisations need to treat their employees—temporary or permanent—as valuable people with skills rather than people with valuable skills.
The bottom line is that in a world in which vast, diverse talent is available at every nook and corner and where companies are rapidly innovating, an ecosystem which allows for both parties to thrive while boosting employment opportunities is the future.
The author is chairperson & MD, Dale Carnegie Training India