Small businesses have always had a demand for less-than-full-time or fractional employees – for example, a part-time CFO to oversee financial strategy or a human resources specialist to manage seasonal hiring peaks – but the supply just wasn’t there.
That’s changing. Cultural shifts like the gig economy, on-demand lifestyles and a greater focus on work/life balance mean that workers at all levels are not just open to flexible employment – many are demanding it. In this article, we’ll explain how small businesses can leverage flexible or fractional employees to keep up with day-to-day demands and drive business growth.
Flexible vs. Fractional Employment?
It’s important to understand the nuances of flexible versus fractional employment. Typically, people talk about fractional employment in terms of the C-suite. Fractional employees tend to be solopreneurs such as a CFO who spreads his or her time across a number of companies, working a few hours a week at each organization. These companies get the benefit of a high-level executive without the steep costs of a full-time hire.
Flexible employment is fractional employment at scale, and it’s a model that Flex-Able Solutions has pioneered. Flex-Able Solutions starts by assessing the work a company needs and then deploys talent at the right level – from the C-suite to the manager to the staff level, or even an entire team. As with fractional employment, the company benefits from highly-skilled employees without incurring the costs of a full-time hires, but they also get the benefit of being able to more exactly match employees to their needs. In addition, this type of work arrangement is easily scaled up or down to consistently meet the changing needs of the business.
Big Business Has Always Benefitted from Fractional Employees
Major corporations have long realized the benefit of leveraging non-W2 employees to manage peaks and valleys in their workloads. Because their work encompasses hundreds or thousands of hours, large companies can hire teams of consultants or temporary workers. The benefit is that they get the work done when they need it without the expense associated with full-time hires or the hassle of eliminating positions when the work winds down.
Small businesses, of course, have smaller needs – maybe eight hours a week for a bookkeeper or 12 hours for a human resources manager – and top talent typically wasn’t interested in such reduced work hours. The gig economy and a general shift in cultural priorities have changed the calculations.
“The younger generation isn’t buying into finding a 40 hour-a-week job to be successful. They’re more cognizant of the life they want to live, and they want flexibility,” says Aaron Schoenecker, president of Flex-Able Solutions. “On the other end of the age spectrum more seasoned professionals want to stay relevant and keep up with their profession but work fewer hours.”
This cultural shift, coupled with the availability of health insurance independent of employment, means that a benefit once only available to big businesses is now accessible to small organizations – and it could be what ultimately drives their growth.
The Small Business Benefits of Flexible Employment
Small businesses often don’t have the budget to hire a full-time employee for every single skillset needed. So, the office manager ends up doing HR on the side, or the controller also does bookkeeping in his spare time. This results in employees being stretched thin and often doing jobs that really don’t fit their skills, which means the work – and ultimately the company – suffers.
With flexible or fractional employees, small businesses can hire for exactly the skillset needed for only the times they need it. For example, a landscaping company may have big hiring events before summer, so they need human resources talent for recruiting, hiring and onboarding. With a flexible approach, they can hire that person or team for a set amount of time or until the work slows down.
Even if a small business does have the right people in the right roles, needs can change quickly. Signing a big new customer, being audited, or launching a new product can double the workload overnight.
Having a strategic partner to help manage these peaks and valleys in the business cycle can pay dividends. Flex-Able Solutions, a provider of finance, accounting, human resources, recruiting, technology and other professional services to small businesses, has been essential in helping clients navigate their changing staffing needs.
According to Schoenecker, Flex-Able acts as the general contractor for businesses looking for flexible employees. Like a general contractor, Flex-Able provides all of the subcontractors needed to most efficiently and expertly complete the work.
“The employer doesn’t have to worry about hiring, or turnover or wondering if they’re even hiring for the right title. We help them match the work needed to the right people and we can dial the service up or down seamlessly,” Schoenecker said.
With a flexible approach, small companies can garner the same benefits that big companies regularly realize, like greater efficiency, job-specific expertise, lower overhead, and more highly skilled workers – some of the key ingredients for business growth.
If you need help matching the right flexible employees to the job, Flex-Able Solutions can help. Contact us today!