Cost-Benefit Analysis: How to Decide When to Hire a Contract Worker vs Employee

By Devin Hornick on March 21, 2024 in Hiring


Business leaders today are navigating a landscape that prioritizes specialization and agility. Companies are increasingly seeking professionals who can swiftly step in, drive results for specific projects or challenges, and then transition out with minimal disruption. In fact, by 2027, 86.5 million people will be freelancing in the United States and will make up 50.9 percent of the total U.S. workforce.

On the flipside, there’s a strong case for the enduring value of full-time employees. These team members lay the foundation of a company’s culture and institutional knowledge, providing stability and continuity that can’t be matched by transient talent. They’re the bedrock on which long-term strategies are built and executed, fostering an environment of loyalty and deep-seated understanding of the business’s core objectives and values.

If you’re hiring right now, you might feel like you’re caught between a rock and a hard place. How do you balance your need for flexibility against the strength of a full-time team?

At KORE1, we’re familiar with the tight spot you’re in, because we’ve helped hundreds of companies out of similar situations.  We have a proven track record of successfully navigating the complexities of modern workforce needs, aligning talent strategies with the evolving demands of the business landscape.

Read on as we share our advice on achieving this balance, helping you make informed decisions about your talent acquisition approach. Our insights will ensure you have the right people in place to achieve your business goals, whether you’re tackling a specific challenge or building a long-term vision.

Cost Analysis: Contract Workers

Direct Costs

Project Rate: This is the most obvious cost associated with contract workers. Rates can vary depending on the contractor’s experience, skillset, location, and project complexity. Be sure to factor in the total project duration when considering project rates.

Additionally, unlike full-time employees, contractors are responsible for their own benefits (health insurance, retirement savings, etc.) and taxes (Social Security, Medicare). To compensate for these expenses, contractors often charge higher hourly or daily rates compared to a full-time employee with similar qualifications.

Indirect Costs

Onboarding and Training Costs: While onboarding and training are still necessary for contract workers, they may be less extensive compared to full-time employees. The level of training required will depend on the specific project and the contractor’s existing skills.

Management Overhead: Managing multiple contracts with different contractors can add to your workload. You’ll be responsible for reviewing timesheets, processing payments, and resolving any issues that may arise.

Potential for Misclassification Penalties: There are strict legal guidelines around classifying workers as employees or independent contractors. Misclassifying a worker as a contractor can result in significant penalties from the IRS and other government agencies.

Cost Analysis: Full-Time Employees

Direct Costs

Salary: This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but the most significant direct cost associated with full-time employees is their salary. You’ll pay a portion of the employee’s quoted annual salary each pay period.

Payroll Taxes (Employer and Employee Portions): In addition to the employee’s salary, you’ll also be responsible for paying employer payroll taxes. The exact amount will depend on your location and specific tax regulations.

Benefits: To attract and retain top full-time talent, your company should offer a variety of benefits packages. Even simply offering the basics, though—health insurance, paid time off, retirement plans, etc.—takes a large bite out of your operating budget. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, benefit costs for private companies accounts for 30% of their compensation spending.

Indirect Costs

Recruitment and Hiring: The process of recruiting and hiring new employees involves significant indirect costs, including advertising job openings, screening applicants, conducting interviews, and the administrative work associated with processing new hires.

Turnover: Employee turnover can lead to severance pay, the loss of institutional knowledge, temporary decreases in productivity, and the repeat of the recruitment and hiring process.

Productivity Ramp-Up Time: Newly hired employees typically take some time to reach their full potential. Until they do, your organization may experience a temporary dip in overall productivity as these individuals learn the ropes of their new position.

Benefit Analysis: Contract Workers


One of the most significant benefits of hiring contract workers is the flexibility they provide. You can easily scale your workforce up or down based on the specific needs of your project. You can quickly tap into a pool of highly skilled professionals for temporary engagements, without the burden of onboarding, training, and managing full-time employees.

Specialized Skills

Contract workers often have highly specialized skills and experience in their particular field. This is a huge advantage when you need to tackle a specific project that requires expertise outside of your current team’s skillset. By hiring a contractor, you can gain access to this expertise without the need to invest in long-term training for a full-time employee.

Lower Upfront Costs

Compared to full-time employees, contract workers typically come with lower upfront costs. You don’t need to pay for benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, or retirement contributions. Additionally, you don’t need to provide office space or equipment for contract workers, which can further reduce your overall costs.

Benefit Analysis: Full-Time Employees

Loyalty and Commitment

Full-time employees who are well-compensated, treated fairly, and have opportunities for growth tend to be more loyal and committed to the company’s success. Happy employees mean lower turnover, which can save your company money on recruitment and training costs in the long run.

Control and Integration

Having a full-time staff allows for greater control and direct supervision of your team. Full-time employees can be more easily integrated into your company culture, fostering better communication, collaboration, and alignment with company goals.

Knowledge Retention

Over time, full-time employees accumulate valuable institutional information about your company, its products or services, and its customers. Employee knowledge retention is critical for maintaining consistent quality and efficiency in your operations.

Teamwork and Collaboration

Full-time employees who work together on a regular basis can develop strong working relationships and a sense of teamwork. A collaborative environment is essential for tackling complex projects that require effective communication and coordination across different skillsets.

Consider a Hybrid Approach for the Best of Both Worlds

Why not leverage the strengths of both contract workers and full-time employees? For example, let’s say you’re a tech company developing a new mobile app. You could hire a contract worker with expertise in a specific programming language, such as Swift or Kotlin, to develop a critical feature of the app.

However, you might also have a full-time software engineer on your team who can handle the overall architecture of the app and integrate the contractor’s work with other components. This way, you benefit from the specialized skills of the contractor while also maintaining the institutional knowledge and continuity provided by the full-time employee.

Build a Flexible and Strategic Workforce With KORE1

A strategic and adaptable workforce is essential for success in today’s dynamic business landscape. Carefully analyzing the costs and benefits of different hiring options is a critical step in making informed decisions that align with your project needs, budget, and company culture.

At KORE1, we’re committed to partnering with leading companies like yours to develop a customized workforce strategy that achieves your strategic objectives.

Stop digging for talent. Build a more agile team with KORE1. Contact us today to learn more about our strategic workforce solutions.