Recruiting For Project Work?

  • february 23,2015
  • Dave Rigby
  • Contractor Vs Employee Recruitment

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Ever wondered whether you need to bring in a new employee or a self-employed contractor to work on your exciting new project? It’s a big question for any business, and there are pros and cons associated with both, but the best solution depends on many factors.  

To make things simpler we’re going to break it all down here.

Speed of Hire

It is highly likely that hiring a contractor will bring a quicker start date than a long term employee, meaning work could start sooner.  Many contractors have gaps in their schedules as they will regularly focus on short-term project work with clear end dates, and are more likely to be available to start quickly.  Long term employees, who are likely to be employed elsewhere, would generally need to give notice to their current employers, so expect to wait a good month before they can start with you, and possibly up to 3 months.

Employment Costs

A contractor will undoubtedly cost more in real cash than an employee over the time period of the project, but essentially you’re paying for convenience. You will of course find that with contractors, outlay for things such as sick pay and holidays are not necessary, which can reduce costs but also extend the length of the project.

Additionally, with contractors, if it doesn’t end up working out, you won’t have to go through the complex and possibility lengthy process of firing them - simply cancel their contract, if the terms you have agreed allow for that.

As projects become more long term, contracting becomes less and less efficient. Eventually it becomes more efficient to have an employee, who can also be asked to do other odd jobs in between or alongside other project work. For long term roles, the employee will develop a sense of loyalty and pride for where they work, and feel like an important part of the team.

Knowledge Retention

With any project work, employers should always make provision for detailed project, technical and operational knowledge to be documented and retained within the business.  There is a risk with hiring a contractor that some elements of these are lost with their departure, and then the further risk of having to pay again to bring them back.

On the other hand, with a dedicated, long term employee, the knowledge is retained within the business, and hopefully with the wider project team.

Flexible working

With employees it’s not uncommon to have to have incentivised premium working arrangements in place, or fresh negotiations, to get them to work at different locations. Contractors will generally work anywhere under one arrangement.


Hiring a contractor generally means you are bringing in someone who can hit the ground running.  There should therefore be minimal training costs; induction for a contractor (whilst still necessary) should not be as involved as that for an employee. In addition, they should not need any technical training at all.


One major benefit of hiring contractors is the experience they bring with them.  Not only should they have the relevant technical / job specific skills and experience at a high level, but they should also have a broad background carrying out similar work across a number of organisations.  Technical expertise aside, experienced contractors who have worked in other organisations can bring a whole new perspective to project management.

Employee Relations

Finally, hiring a contractor can have a negative impact on employee relations within the company.  Many employees will feel overlooked if you bring in an expensive outsider to work on a project; there can be negative feelings about lost opportunity, missed promotion, and lack of development for existing staff.

If the contractor approach is the one you favour, then communicate with your existing staff to let them know and explain your reasons for taking that approach.  If you have union recognition agreements in place, make sure your local reps are fully informed too.


If you’re looking for project staff of any type, why not get in touch with us? Call us on 01772 633854 or email us – and we’ll get started for you!