After a period of prolonged inflexibility—the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions—we’re seeing a new era of flexibility taking hold in the workplace. That isn’t just due to the rise of flexible work arrangements like hybrid work. The embrace of a flexible staffing model by many employers is another factor.
During the pandemic, a flexible staffing strategy helped countless organizations pivot with agility whenever their talent needs turned on a dime. It allowed them to bring in contract talent for as long as needed to alleviate staffing and skills gaps and keep high-priority projects on track.
Now, organizations are realizing this strategy has staying power and can be used anytime to help ease the burden on their core teams. And for ongoing challenges and requirements, they can opt to engage contract professionals for full-time roles. In either case, flexible staffing creates many benefits for busy finance and accounting departments—especially those grappling with staffing and skills gaps.
Recent research from Robert Half found that two-thirds of hiring managers in finance and accounting seek to hire talent for new roles, while 32% are focused on staffing vacated roles. Yet 95% of these managers also said they face challenges finding skilled talent available for hire. So it’s no surprise that other research found that 64% of hiring managers in finance and accounting expect to bring in more contract workers in the months ahead.
If you’re considering bringing in highly skilled contract talent to work alongside your permanent staff, here’s a look at some of the top advantages you can realize from this move.
Increased access to in-demand talent and specialized skills. One key benefit of using a flexible staffing approach is that it opens the door to connecting with skilled talent located anywhere.
Professionals who work on a contract basis often choose this path because they enjoy the challenge and opportunity of lending their abilities to diverse assignments for various employers. You can find professionals who can work remotely or on-site, and you can hire individuals or entire teams, depending on your business needs.
The array of skills and experience you can choose from when hiring finance and accounting talent on a contract basis is also deep and broad. For example, you can align specialized knowledge, such as in a particular area of accounting or an industry, for a new business initiative. You can also connect with professionals who have in-demand credentials such as the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant).
Depending on the talent resource you work with to secure contract talent, you might also have the option to bring in the same contract professionals on a recurring basis, such as for cyclical projects.
Reducing costs. There’s a perception that hiring contract professionals is a luxury and only reserved for employers with big staffing budgets. But this talent is accessible to organizations of any size. Plus, hiring contract professionals allows you to turn some of your fixed personnel costs into variable expenses because you pay only for the talent you need—when your business truly needs it.
Additionally, when you use a flexible staffing model, it can help you to reduce the high costs associated with hiring and training new staff while also keeping your overtime expenses in check.
Improved competitive position. When you adhere to a rigid labor structure, it can make your business more vulnerable to economic highs and lows. Many employers discovered this the hard way during the pandemic. They were less agile, and thus, couldn’t respond quickly to disruption.
A flexible talent model enables you to staff strategically as demands fluctuate, so your business can respond to change faster and more seamlessly. This can give you an advantage over competitors trying to stick with a more traditional staffing approach despite evidence that most work environments are in a period of transformation.
Retaining valued talent. In a recent Robert Half survey, 41% of finance and accounting professionals in the United States reported that they’re either looking for a new job right now or planning to launch their search soon. So, if you’re overloading your team, you could be at risk of hastening the departure of valued employees already contemplating making a move.
Bringing in contract professionals during high workload periods can help ease the burden on your team and stave off potential burnout. And if you engage interim talent to assist your staff with day-to-day responsibilities, your core team can focus their skills and attention on high-priority challenges. That can help them to feel more motivated and engaged on the job—and less likely to eye the exit door.
Avoiding costly bad hires. In a market where the unemployment rate for accountants and auditors is just 0.9%, according to recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s critical for employers in hiring mode to snap up in-demand candidates quickly. But moving too fast amid a talent crisis can result in bad hires. This can take a financial toll on your business, as well as dent your team’s morale.
By supplementing your finance and accounting teams with contract talent, your business can maintain optimal productivity while you search for permanent hires. You might even discover that the contract professionals you’ve engaged are strong contenders for full-time roles you’re trying to staff. The contract assignment provides an opportunity to “audition” a potential new hire, providing you with insight into how they work and mesh with your company’s culture.
Maintaining flexibility in your staffing approach will allow you to scale your workforce elastically and cost-effectively meet the challenges of today’s rapidly changing business landscape.