Test-driving contract workers valuable

Before committing to new employees, many CIOs find value in hiring IT staff on a contract basis, then grooming them for full-time employment, according to a recent study.

A survey of 1,400 CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with more than 100 employees found that 63 per cent of respondents said the practice of promoting contract workers to full-time was a valuable strategy.

The study, developed by Robert Half Technology, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based IT staffing firm, and conducted by International Communications Research of Media, Pa., found that 35 per cent of respondents did not find the strategy valuable at all. On the whole, nearly 47 per cent of respondents consider the practice somewhat valuable and roughly 16 per cent found it very valuable while two per cent of respondents said they didn’t know whether it was valuable or not.

Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director at Robert Half Technology, says that companies are sensing a turnaround and are thinking about staffing up, but they are hedging their bets by hiring on a contract basis first. “Companies aren’t ready to commit to full-time hires,” Spencer Lee says. “It’s an opportunity for them to evaluate talent in real-time. It’s a lot like a working interview.”

According to the survey, large businesses tend to prefer this practice more than small businesses do. Of respondents at companies with more than 1,000 employees, nearly 73 per cent said they found the practice valuable. More than half of these respondents consider the practice somewhat valuable (53.6 per cent) and 19 per cent found it very valuable. “Larger organizations find it more valuable because it’s a practice that they’re more accustomed to,” Spencer Lee says.

According to the Spencer Lee, contract-to-hire workers are well suited for any type of project as long as there’s consistent workflow. The analyst says new staff also like contract-to-hire options because it allows them to get to know the company and answer some lingering questions they may have such as, “Is this the type of organization I want to work for? Is this a good fit for me?”

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