Often, I hear the screams of pain when we turn to external consultants or contractors to get work completed. It's a delicate situation – sometimes employees feel like they are being betrayed that you're going external. Quite honestly, there's a learning curve and additional expense to going external. There are advantages, though.
I love this plaque from Despair:
Humor aside, consultants and contractors recognize the fact that if they do not perform, they will not return. Period. It's a single opportunity to instill confidence in the client in order to get additional work. As well, there are none of the other issues associated with employees – vacation, benefits, reviews, mentoring, training costs, politics, etc.
Employees are a long-term investment. This may sound impersonal, but it's a lot like buying a house or renting an apartment. The house requires so much more attention that will hopefully pay off in the long run. But is it really paying off? If you have turnover where folks aren't staying for more than a few years, are you getting your return on investment?
Consultants and contractors also have keen sense of customer service. You are their customer and their absolute goal is to please you. Sometimes this isn't the case with employees. Employees have expectations for their employers – sometimes stronger than vice-versa.
As health care benefits rise and employee turnover continues to be a problem, I'm surprised that we don't utilize contractors and consultants more and more to execute our work. That's a little sad in some ways, but it definitely separates the wheat from the chaff. I think it really takes an incredibly strong organization to build a base of employees that are so fantastic that you need never look external for skill – and you pay enough that you never have to worry about them leaving. Does such a company exist?