Differences in Contract-to-Hire, Temporary, Seasonal, and Fractional roles 

I was standing in line at a networking event last week and a friend of mine introduced herself as a Fractional Sales Leader to another attendee. He said, “Until a month ago, I had never heard the term ‘fractional’ used in that way and now I hear it almost every day”. That conversation is what prompted this blog entry.  

As a Business Owner, Talent Consultant and Fractional HR Leader, I have conversations about workforce planning and capacity regularly with CEOs and Operations Leaders. When I started recruiting in the 90s… yep, before some of our dear readers were born, there were basically three kinds of employees – full-time, part-time, and temporary. Organizations generally hired direct and occasionally would have the need for a ‘fill-in’ employee for a maternity leave, illness, vacation, or special project.  

When I was in college, I spent a summer working as a temporary administrative employee at several organizations. Often, I sat at a front desk, answered the phone, and did odd jobs for anyone brave enough to ask if the “temp” had any computer skills! The assignments were brief and often turned into job offers once someone realized you knew how to use Excel! So, let’s dive into the evolution of those roles and the associated terminology we use today.  

 Temporary or Temp Employees 

Generally hired through an employment agency with an option to convert to a full-time employee after a period of time (usually 90 days). Temporary employees are most common in roles with general office or business skills such as accounting/billing, administrative, data entry, warehousing, or general tech support. As a general rule, these roles require little specific training and skills are transferable across companies and industries. Substitute teachers would fall into this category as well.  

 Contract to Hire (CTH or Contractor) Employees 

Contract employees, much like temporary employees, are often hired for short-term projects. While all temporary employees could be converted to direct hires, contract-to-hire roles are generally differentiated by a requirement for specific skills and are common in Information Technology, Human Resources, Marketing, Finance, Procurement, and other General & Administrative (G&A) roles. Contract Recruiting is offered by many employment agencies who often offer a transition option for the employer to hire the employee permanently between 90-180 days into the project assignment. 

 Seasonal Employees 

Seasonal hires are common in businesses with a significant ‘busy’ season causing a need to scale up and down throughout the year. These roles may be considered ‘temporary’ and are designed to solve a short-term staffing challenge related to the seasonality of the business. An example of this need might be benefits enrollment counselors or data entry support during open enrollment for a large employer or benefits carrier. A contract recruiting partner can help you prepare for this type of need each year.  

 Fractional Employees 

The rise of consulting, contract employees, gig work, and the term ‘fractional’ have become commonplace in the US in recent times. in the years following the Covid pandemic, as the economy and job market have been more volatile and unpredictable than usual, these types of roles have grown substantially. Rather than hiring a contractor at full-time hours or adding headcount to businesses who may be feeling economic uncertainty, many organizations have turned to fractional hires. The term ‘fractional’ refers to someone who works part-time for the business in a highly skilled function such as VP & C-level Executive roles. These Consultants offer fractional services for a multitude of businesses and may have 3-4 work assignments at any given time with a percentage of their time dedicated to each client. This employment arrangement was popular in Finance & Accounting prior to the pandemic but in 2021-2023, the term has been adopted by several industries and roles. You can now hire just about any skillset as a fractional team member dedicating as few as 5-10 hours per month up to about 50% of a full-time commitment (20 hours/week). The hourly rate is higher for these highly skilled workers but the ability to hire top talent without a full-time salary commitment is immeasurable.  

 It doesn’t matter which terminology you use; the bottom line is that today’s employees are more adept to meet businesses where they are and allow a choice in how to staff each available position. A dedicated Contract Recruiting Partner like Recruiting Experiences can help businesses determine the best route to find and keep the talent needed to effectively run their business.  

 Visit www.recruitingexperiences.com for more information.  

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