When many of us think of the hiring process, we usually think of hiring full-time employees, along with all the complications that this entails, from mountains of paperwork to on-boarding efforts and HR briefings.

And while finding the perfect full-time employee is crucial for long-term success, not every role needs to be a full-time hire. In fact, when you need to fill a role quickly, a contractor may be a better option. Hiring a contractor eliminates the need for long interview processes, internal discussions, complicated paperwork, and the often-high costs of providing benefits and processing employee payroll.

Before you hire a contractor, though, it’s important to remember why companies should choose contractors in the first place. Don’t hire a contractor simply because you want to avoid paperwork. Instead, consider a contractor if your business meets any of the following qualifications:

  • You need to fill an essential role quickly so your business doesn’t slow down.
  • You would like to “audition” a particular role in your organization to see if you need a full-time employee in that position.
  • You are looking for a temporary solution while you search for a full-time hire, or you need temporary assistance with a particular project or product.

If your business meets any of those criteria above, hiring a contractor could be a perfect solution. Just remember that once you’ve made that initial contractor hire, it’s important to manage your contract employees differently than you manage your full-time staff.

Here are a few rules of thumb to consider when managing contractors:

Be explicit about what you need done, not how you need it done.

Contractors are independent professionals, which means that they bring their own set of skills and approaches to the work at hand. Because of this, it’s important to understand that micromanaging contractors will not only lead to headaches but could also run you afoul of contractual restrictions on what contractors can and cannot do for your business. A better practice is to carefully explain what needs to be done and then allow the contractor to execute independently. This doesn’t mean you can’t give feedback and adjust the work, but it does mean you shouldn’t manage contractors the same way you manage your staff (although we don’t advise micromanaging them, either).

Communicate, over-communicate, then communicate again.

One of the benefits of working with contractors is that they can work independently. You may choose to have them work at your office for the duration of their contract or you may have them work from their own office or even their home. But depending on where your contract employees are working, communication may become a key sticking point. It’s always best to err on the side of over-communicating expectations, project guidelines, and changing deliverables rather than expecting your contractors to adapt on the fly. After all, they aren’t as well-versed in your company approach, values, or workflow as your full-time staff, so spending a little extra time laying out your expectations can help steer them towards project success.

Set up regular check-ins between contractors and staff.

Even though they work as independent professionals, contractors shouldn’t have to work in isolation. If they are working with your full-time staff on a project or product, make sure they are integrated into the workflow as much as possible. One of the best ways to ensure cohesion between your contractors and employees is instituting regular check-in meetings between the two, which help reduce friction and streamline the collaborative process. Happy contractors and happy staff mean harmonious projects!