What Is Fractional Work? Decoding the Future of Flexible

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Contra Tips
· 7 min read

The definitive guide to meeting your 2024 goals without overextending your team or your budget. 

In 2024, getting the most out of your financial resources and team will be more critical than ever. A flexible hiring strategy relying on fractional talent makes that possible.

In this guide, we’ll explore:

The value of flexibility: How today’s labor market is reshaping workforce strategies 🥨

If you're looking to strike a balance between growth and efficiency, you're not alone: 90% of leaders and hiring managers today are wrestling with aligning project demands and staffing capabilities. These competing pressures are even more pronounced in the tech industry, which is still grappling with the fallout of nearly 262,000 tech employee layoffs in 2023. 

Across industries, a shortage of critical skills is threatening companies’ ability to innovate and scale. According to a recent Gartner study, 46% of companies see their skills gaps widening.

Whether you’re grappling with a skills gap, aggressive goals, or the need to maintain a small team, now is the time to develop a strategy for steady, predictable growth so you can come out ahead.

Tapping into fractional talent as part-time employees instead of hiring more full time employees may be a great strategy to help you get there.

Fractional talent: What it is and how to use it 💼

Fractional talent refers to hiring professionals on a part-time or project basis, rather than as full time employees. Also known as contractors, freelancers, or independent professionals, fractional talent allows businesses to access specialized skills without committing to the expenses of a permanent or full time hire—more important than ever when teams and budgets are stretched due to market conditions.

Examples of fractional talent include:

  • Tapping a fractional CFO as a part-time employee to help your startup with financial planning and analyses without committing to hiring a full time executive to join your team
  • Hiring a freelance brand director for a project to reimagine your brand identity before launching a new product
  • Outsourcing your social strategy to a digital marketing specialist to build your online presence for 20 hours per week for a quarter
  • Hiring a part-time web designer to rebrand your website

Skills-based hiring: Matching project needs with
the fractional talent 🎯

As you evaluate the role that hiring fractional or part-time talent can play in supporting your goals, ensuring you’re bringing in the right skills is key. Skills-based hiring has taken off in recent years, and for good reason. A recent study found that 92.5% of companies hiring based on skills have seen a reduction in their mis-hire rate.

Combining a fractional talent strategy with a skills-based hiring approach means companies can access deep functional expertise without committing to a full-time role when one isn’t needed.

For example, maybe you’re launching a new website, but you won’t need a team of designers, copywriters, and developers after the site goes live. Or maybe you’re executing a major marketing campaign and need a diverse team of marketing experts, but only for the next three months. Or, maybe your customer base has grown rapidly, and you need help managing customer success requirements on an ongoing basis, but not full time.

The opportunities for fractional talent to plug in and help are endless. 
But what’s the right way to find, onboard, and manage them?


Scaling with a fractional team: A 5-step approach to finding, onboarding, and managing on-demand talent 📈 

1. Identify the best roles for flexible talent

As you think about the skills and support you need to meet your goals, don't get lost in the urgency of the moment. Great talent strategy is all about playing the long game while hitting your short-term goals. Ask yourself:

  • What projects are on the horizon this quarter? What about in the next year?
  • Do I currently have the right in-house talent to get these projects done, while leaving room for unanticipated last-minute priorities?

For quick turnaround projects (up to six months), fractional talent offers the agility required. For long-term projects (more than six months), either a flexible or full-time hire could make sense. Full-time employees, for example, can be valuable for long-running accounts where relationship building with the client is important. 

Understanding this dynamic and having a strategy that leverages the strengths of both fractional and full-time team members will ultimately position your team for success.


2. Hire the right expert at the right time

Once you’ve identified your immediate and future project needs, the next step is sourcing the right talent. This process is about connecting with professionals who can fulfill your project requirements with the agility and expertise necessary.

Contra simplifies this sourcing process. With over 340 skill sets represented across a global talent pool of 500,000 flexible specialists (and growing), you can find the perfect match for your projects. Whether you need a developer proficient in Webflow or a writer adept in AI, Contra makes discovering and connecting with experts as straightforward as it should be.

3. Onboard easily, stay compliant

Let's face it, nobody loves paperwork. But efficiently moving from hiring to onboarding is essential in maintaining project momentum. Contra for Companies, Contra’s all-in-one platform for flexible talent, takes the hassle out of the onboarding process, ensuring compliance while keeping you focused on project delivery. 

From handling tax forms to drafting project contracts, Contra’s platform covers the essentials, leaving you to onboard fractional team members quickly and confidently. This approach ensures that all HR, legal, and financial requirements are seamlessly managed, allowing you to engage with your new team members without worry or delay.

4. Manage your fractional workforce at scale 

As your roster of fractional experts grows, you'll need a scalable system to keep pace, because effective talent management is key to transforming project outcomes. And that extends beyond coordination—it’s also about gaining a competitive edge with diverse team skills, fostering innovation, and driving projects forward with agility.

By empowering your project management with the right tools and insights, you can leverage the full potential of your fractional talent. Whether it's aligning individual skills with project goals, streamlining payment processing, or gathering valuable feedback, Contra for Companies amplifies your ability to manage your projects with precision and foresight.

5. Keep growing your flexible talent network of freelancers, contractors, and fractional professionals

If you’re planning to scale with the help of fractional talent, it’s important to continuously expand your network of highly-skilled experts so you’re always ready for what’s next.

The Contra Network allows you to connect with fractional talent that would be a good fit for your team and your projects, even if you don’t need their specific skills right now. You can create a custom directory of vetted experts in one place on Contra, including those you’re working with now and those you’d like to potentially work with in the future. You can even add contractors or freelancers you’ve worked with previously who aren’t currently using Contra. That means when it’s time for your team to kick off the next project, you know exactly where to go for contact info, skills, and payments.

How to start? Meet Contra for Companies ✨

As traditional hiring models falter under the pressure of rapid industry shifts, Contra for Companies provides a robust talent marketplace complemented by a suite of collaboration tools. Whether you’re a growth-stage tech company, a digital-first SMB, or an agency seeking to enhance agility and efficiency, manage your project experts in one place.

Why Contra for Companies? 

  • Unprecedented access: Discover a world-class network of over 500,000 independent professionals, offering a diverse range of skills to meet every project need.
  • Total visibility: Gain real-time insights into project statuses, flexible talent budgets, and team feedback, ensuring you’re always in the loop and in control.
  • Streamlined compliance: Effortlessly manage HR, legal, and finance compliance with our comprehensive tools, making onboarding and payments a breeze.
  • Agile resourcing: Adapt to market changes with confidence, leveraging our on-demand talent network to scale up or down as needed.

Want to get started? Learn more about Contra for Companies here, or reach out to request a demo here

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