How Independent Contractors Can Boost Your Bottom Line in a Recession

By MBO Partners | January 20, 2023

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Key Points

At this time, when the economy's direction is up in the air, it’s important to have a strategy for getting critical projects done and maximizing the bottom line.

An optimized or blended workforce composed of employees and contractors can be an excellent hedge in a recession.

Engaging experienced contractors as an element of your talent strategy can lead to cost savings and enhanced productivity.

Despite dire recession warnings from economists, the US market currently has more job openings than labor to fill them. This doesn’t mean firms aren’t laying off talent, doing more with less, or considering scaling back on hiring. At this time, when the economy’s direction is up in the air and uncertainty prevails in the market, it’s more important than ever to have a strategy for getting critical projects done and maximizing the bottom line.

An optimized or blended workforce composed of employees and contractors can be an excellent hedge in a recession. When independent professionals are part of your overall human capital approach, you strategically tap into a pool of talent you can engage again and again. While this is important at any time, direct sourcing from a talent network of vetted independents is especially important in times of recession.

Engaging experienced contractors as an element of your talent strategy can lead to cost savings and enhanced productivity through these benefits:

Increased workforce agility

When you have an agile workforce, you have a talent pool that is flexible, fluid, and able to meet the demands of your business. Companies that use independent contractors as part of their workforce strategy realize significant cost savings per engagement, access to top talent, and accelerated business outcomes. 

Cutting-edge skills when you need them

Talent with in-demand (and expensive) skills will likely be independent and command top rates. These professionals are independent because they prefer this work style, so you can engage cutting-edge skills from motivated experts as you need them.

Lower spend

When you hire skills only when needed rather than hiring in-house, you can scale your workforce up or down with independents instead of maintaining a fixed bottom line of employed workers.

Saved hiring-related costs

When you have a robust talent network, you can hire vetted and trusted independents again and again instead of hiring from scratch (and spending more in the process) each time.

Technology for speed and cost-efficiency

Technology tools have greatly streamlined the time and cost of the contractor engagement process. Take advantage of tech solutions to quickly hire for key projects or skill areas.

The benefits of an optimized workforce and a strong independent talent network extend beyond a potential recession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has consistently reported declining job tenure over the last decade.  The current average across all worker demographics is 4.1 years. Members of the younger generations—Gen Z and Millennials—many of which have highly sought-after skills, average even fewer years in a job. The potential need to incur the costs of recruiting and hiring new employees more frequently makes the inclusion of vetted independent talent in your workforce even more beneficial.

If you aren’t already doing so, focus on engaging skills (independent of work classification) and hiring for outcomes to get key projects done, and you’ll have an agile, flexible, and highly productive workforce. Recession or no recession, you will end up ahead of the competition in the long term.

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