Survey: Contract IT Versus Permanent Hire

According to a comprehensive survey which examines the advantages and disadvantages of contract IT labor versus permanent hires, the primary advantage cited by senior IT and HR managers was the ability to terminate contract employees when they're no longer needed. The number one disadvantage: when contract IT personnel walk out the door, so does a wealth of training, knowledge and experience.

The survey ( which includes in-depth interviews with 100 senior IT and HR managers in companies ranging in size from under 50 employees to over 10,000 ) was commissioned by Commercial Programming Systems (CPS). Jaffe2, an independent research firm, conducted the study in the 4th quarter of 2000.

During the interview, Senior IT and HR managers were asked "What do you feel are the advantages of hiring contract IT professionals compared to permanent employees, and what do you feel are the drawbacks?" Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of those polled cited the ability to terminate labor when no longer needed as the primary advantage.

The ability to hire contractors to fill a specific need or skill-set came in second at 40 percent. No doubt, this is due in part to the tight IT job market and the difficulty of sifting talent from voluminous online resumes. Compounding the need for skill-specific labor is the speed with which companies need to respond to qualified IT candidates, or risk losing them.

Twelve percent of survey respondents felt that hiring contract IT help was less costly than hiring permanent help, while a slightly higher percentage (22 percent) felt the opposite.

Topping the list of perceived disadvantages for hiring contract IT professionals, was losing skills when contracted help leaves. Almost 67 percent of survey respondents raised this concern. Ranking as the number two drawback to hiring contract IT help, is the perceived notion that contract IT professionals have no loyalty. Almost 45 percent of survey respondents raised this concern. Typically, contractors know when a job is over, and many shop their resumes around before that. Some even leave for the next job before taking care of loose ends, such as documentation. Finally, the third most mentioned drawback of hiring contract IT workers is getting them up to speed on assignments. Twenty-nine percent of respondents voiced this concern.

For whatever reasons respondents hired contract IT professionals, it's clear that it worked well for many of them. In fact, 67 percent of survey respondents had hired an IT contractor to fill a permanent company position. Of these, 67 percent rated that it worked a 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale.

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