When your workforce gets tight and you need an extra hand in your plant, how do you make the decision between hiring a full-time employee or independent contractor? While there are pros and cons to both, finding the right fit for your manufacturing team is of paramount importance.
When you hire full-time employees, you commit to adding a member to your manufacturing family. That includes paying the employee an hourly wage or salary, and many manufacturing leaders also offer their employees benefits that may include health care and life insurance as well as retirement contributions, paid holidays, sick days, and vacation. It’s important these workers have the necessary education and skills, but their personalities must also fit with your company culture. Plus, full-timers’ loyalty can grow over time spent working at one company.
Independent contractors or freelancers work on project-to-project bases, moving from one to another when the former is completed. While they do similar jobs based on their specialties each time, these projects are with different companies who hire them for their expertise in their fields; therefore, turning the companies who hire them into contractors’ clients. While, again, it’s important to ensure your independent contractors have the proper know-how and will be good fits for your company, their short time in your workforce means their skills and abilities to complete the projects at hand weigh more heavily on your decision to hire.
Pros and cons
- Training — While independent contractors tend to cost less overall, you need to bring them up to speed on your company and standards, so training time is an important aspect to consider as well. However, if you can build a strong relationship with, for example, an independent engineering consultant and bring him or her back to your manufacturing plant as needed, you can cut training time while utilizing the professional your plant requires. And if the contractor finishes the job but isn’t a great culture fit, you never have to call upon him or her in the future — it’s completely up to you. Keep in mind, though, you will likely invest time in training the next contractor you call upon for similar projects in the future.
- Taxes and benefits — When you hire a freelancer, he or she doesn’t fill out tax forms for employment. Rather, freelancers are responsible for their own taxes, freeing employers from the burden as well as others such as paid time off and benefits.
- Availability — When you hire full-time employees, you expect them to be available during regular business hours or during their shifts unless they’ve requested time off or miss work for the occasional sick day. Contractors, on the other hand, tend to work on more than one project for more than one company at once — and may not be available for your project right when you need them.
While full-time employees offer manufacturing leaders stability, freelancers are strong options for individual projects. If a regular employee experiences an injury that prevents him or her from returning to the plant floor for an extended period of time — but you know you’ll bring him or her back to the team after recovery — an independent contractor can fill the temporary void and help keep production on track. Plus, hiring independent contractors for specific projects for which full-timers wouldn’t be necessary can help plant leaders save money.
Which is right for you? Consider the pros and cons of independent contractors versus full-time employees in the context of the position you’re hiring for or project you need completed to find the best answer to your personnel questions.