What kind of workers should you hire for a project?

There are nearly as many kinds of technical personnel as there are projects, but staff can be primarily broken into categories based on how much time they will spend on a worksite and their existing skill set. While none of these categories are completely impermeable, different workplace regulations – which in turn may vary state to state – may apply to each group. The following is a guide to the various considerations that go into the hiring of different worker types:

Full-time and part-time

While the U.S. Department of Labor does not apply specific standards to determine the difference between a full-time and part-time employee, full-time employees typically spend an excess of 30 hours a week working on the project while part-time is often less than 25. Critically, both full-time and part-time employees are considered permanent staff members of an organization or project group.

What does this mean for project managers? It means an investment in these workers. Since they are members of a team in an on-going capacity, certain administrative, HR and workplace training initiatives need to be made a part of operations – both to ensure regulatory compliance and to guarantee these workers have the skills needed to perform their roles to peak efficiency. It also means that the staff must be issued W2s and have their tax withholdings maintained by payroll, in addition to being issued certain HR materials, made aware of safety regulations and provided labor compliance guides. Regular auditing of payroll is required to make sure that withholdings are sufficient for workers classified as full- or part-time. Furthermore, terminating, laying off or firing of a full- or part-time worker requires following protocols and being able to show cause – whether it’s a violation of a workplace guideline or lack of sufficient work/resources – or else the enterprise is at risk of lawsuit.

Given the level of investment in these workers and the structures that need to be built to support full- and part-time employment, it is typically in the best interest of the project managers to carefully identify and vet job candidates. When a project manager is too busy or isn’t able to locate viable candidates, the project manager should engage a reputable staffing company with experience in the project manager’s industry to assist in locating and vetting candidates for these hard-to-fill full and part-time positions.

Temporary workers

Temporary employees are typically solicited from a staffing agency and – as the name suggests – employed on a short-term basis to fulfill an immediate need. Generally, they remain officially in the employ of the staffing agency while they work on a particular jobsite, thus removing the need for the generation of employment materials by the project manager. The duration of their employment on a project is typically made explicit prior to their deployment. In addition, they often are highly skilled workers holding certifications in specific areas of importance to the project manager.

Given that the investment and vetting of these workers by a project manager is limited, it is critical to utilize the services of a staffing agency that specializes in placing candidates in the project manager’s industry. Temporary employees are entitled by OSHA regulators to a safe workspace, so ideally a project will employ specially trained employees or provide them sufficient training on-site.

In some situations, a project manager may wish to use the services of a staffing agency to hire a temporary employee for a few months before making the decision to hire that employee into a full-time position – this may be called a “temp to perm” position. Using temporary employees on a “trial basis” allows both the project manager and employee to determine if the position and employee fit one another before hiring the employee as a full-time employee.

As with full and part-time positions, a reputable staffing agency should be engaged to locate temporary contract workers who have the skills and experience to get the job done quickly, efficiently, and safely.

Contract workers

Contract workers combine many of the aspects of part-time and temporary workers. They are brought on by a project manager for a set duration – whether it’s for a certain amount of time or until the project’s completion – but unlike temporary workers, these are independently operating workers. These workers are issued a 1099 and must keep track of their own withholdings for tax purposes. However, due to additional oversight and audits by the U.S. Department of Labor and State Labor Departments, misclassification of employees as independent contractors is increasing which greatly increases the risk of employers using independent contractors. Companies can eliminate this risk by engaging a seasoned staffing agency to locate and hire independent contractors for use by the company and their project managers.

Whether the need is for a part-time, full-time, temporary, contract, or “temp to perm” employee, the right people deployed in the right places can get a job done more quickly, efficiently and safely.