back to article 'It is absolute b*ll*cks that contractors aren't committed'

The academic who penned an Australian study into the working lives of freelance professionals says the results would, if they described full-time employees, mean human resources managers tick all the boxes needed to score a bonus. The study in question, the 2012 iPro Index, was conducted by Monash University Senior Lecturer Dr …

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Stop

They said

Any proof to back their claims?

No scientific value to this study.

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They really really meant it.

Most contractors are quite committed. It's boring sitting at a desk and not trying. Better to get stuck in and work. The near-instant dismissal threat is quite motivating too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: They really really meant it.

The threat of instant dismissal (combined with the chances of making more money) are what attracted me to contracting. There's something very honest about going into work each day knowing it could be your last if you don't perform; and very rewarding, two days before the end of a contract when you're called into a meeting and asked "Erm, can you stay on to sort that?". Any choosing what benefits my renumeration gets spent on (so you can end up with more in the bank) is nice as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: They really really meant it.

Threat of instant dismissal? Geez, where do you guys work ? It took me 3 months to get rid of a contactor that didn't even bother to show up for work.

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Bod

Re: They really really meant it.

"It took me 3 months to get rid of a contactor that didn't even bother to show up for work."

Bad contract, that's the client's fault not the contractor (aside from they agreed to sign the crap contract). Not to mention it would fall foul of IR35 most likely. Bad for both parties.

Though to be fair agents are often responsible for these hideous contracts as they are covering their backs and trying to ensure there will be guaranteed fees rolling in for them for 3 months or whatever. Get rid of your agents, deal direct. It's a lot cheaper and you can use fair contracts for all!

If there's no MOO it's a good thing for all (something a recent BBC article failed to understand).

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Mushroom

Re: They really really meant it.

Most contracts are 1 weeks notice, so you must have a crappy legal and / or HR dept....

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Re: They really really meant it.

"It took me 3 months to get rid of a contactor that didn't even bother to show up for work."

If he wasn't at work, you weren't having to pay him his day rate. If you aren't talking about a contractor on a day rate, paid only for the days they work, you're probably talking about a different type of contract to the one most of us automatically think of.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: They really really meant it.

No, they weren't being paid, I just couldn't convince those in power to pull the pin for non-performance and order in a replacement. They were scared of being sued. I assume that fear has some basis in reality.

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Silver badge

Alternate headline

Paid for study produces expected results

> The study ... was conducted by Monash University ... at the behest of Entity Solutions, a company that puts freelancers on its payroll ... for employers to hire them.

So a freelancer agency pays for a study and remarkably, it shows that freelancers are at least as good as permies. Who'd have thought it?

Of course contractors are just as committed. They're people, just like (most) permies are, too. Human nature doesn't change just because you switch employers every few months and get paid extra as a result. In fact it's often observed that the most enthusiastic staff are the new, fresh ones - keen to make an impression (esp. when they can be canned with zero notice) and please their new boss. Before the realisation sets in of just how big a numpty that new boss is, and how lacking in leadership, skill, talent and personality they are.

Though it's unclear whether the study tried or was even capable of distinguishing between "commitment" and motivation. It seems entirely reasonable that (lifestyle choices being equal) contractors who have decided to take their future in their own hands are more highly motivated than individuals who are happy to plow the same furrow for 5, 10 or 30 years - day in, day out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Alternate headline

> So a freelancer agency pays for a study and remarkably, it shows that freelancers are at least as good as permies. Who'd have thought it?

Are you implying that Monash University committed research fraud?

If the research had shown the opposite then you would never have seen the results. This is entirely different than producing fraudulent results. Your sarcastic remark should have been

"So a freelancer agency pays for a study and remarkably decides to publicise it when it is to their benefit."

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Re: Alternate headline

Not publishing negative results is a flavour of fraud too though, right? Burying results INTERNAL to a study to skew your results is clearly fraud, so why isn't burying negative studies? It's just misleading at a higher level. Meta-fraud if you like.

http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_goldacre_what_doctors_don_t_know_about_the_drugs_they_prescribe.html

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Anonymous Coward

There are always some bad eggs...

I took over a project from a contractor and was horrified by the code. Bad, awful, rats-nest, dire are some of the more polite words I used when I saw the code. A total lack of Procedures/Functions/Classes and deeply nested if then else...

I was once a contractor and would never have written code like this. Thankfully we saw the light and kicked him out of the door pronto.

Anon simply because the UK Libel laws are shite and I don't want to get sued.

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Pint

Re: There are always some bad eggs...

I have seen both excellent and appalling code produced by both permanent staff and contractors and likewise found EUC-developed tactical apps that were really well written and seen big strategic systems that were a disaster.

There are plenty bad coders out there. I reckon each one creates work for several competent developers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There are always some bad eggs...

The issues I generally see are with company standards and procedures, and that contractors are sometimes specifically used to bypass these. If contractors are expected to "hit the ground running" there's no way they will know the standards to follow them which can leave something behind that's difficult to kick up and follow.

An example is that we have a set of standard functions that everything is built around, it handles logging, communications, database lookup, config, etc. if code doesn't use these then we can't (ok wont) support it*. If a project just gets in contractors at random, they have no way of even knowing this exists. It might take a month or so to teach them how to use it...

*obviously we get overruled an forced to support non-standard stuff anyway, but at least we push it very high up the management chain and can highlight missing sign offs, failed testing cycles etc. before we are told jfdi, put it live anyway.

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FAIL

99% of contractors say they do a good job

Who'd have thunk it?

And presumably permanent staff wouldn't similarly blow their own trumpets?

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Thumb Down

Well colour me entirely convinced

So a bunch of freelancers (whose ability to continue working depends in part on maintaining a good reputation and knowing how to sell themselves) say that they're shit hot, definitely committed to their client's needs, and can handle everything the job throws at them?

Wow, I'd never have expected that.

If the survey involved even the merest whiff of someone actually testing the iPros in question (and seriously, that choice of name is already enough to activate most properly-calibrated Total Bollockery Detectors) it might have some relevance. As it stands, it's some crap advertising cunningly disguised as crap science.

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Pint

Ambiguous?

> 51 per cent of respondents said they feel their employer's problems are their own.

I read this and, as a contractor, I agreed: my employer's problem belong to them. I'm here to do what I can to alleviate / eliminate those problems. I spent too many years of being emotionally invested as a permie, I can now deal with it better because as a contractor I know it's not going to be my life's work: I'll do my very best and then walk away with a clear conscience.

Inadequate training and a lack of any clear career path pushed me to contracting - too many firms suffer too much chaos and this is a goldmine (literally) waiting to be exploited by contractors. I can see the frustration in the permie staff in the different places I work: if firms took their responsibilities to their perm staff more seriously it would pay dividends (unintended pun).

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Mercenary

Contractors are mercenaries ... I certainly am, anyway.

And what's wrong with that?

I go to work to get money. I do a good job for it, and get paid appropriately. I don't go for personal fulfilment.

It makes me extremely easy to motivate. Just pay me, and I'll work hard. Don't screw me around, or I'll leave with no qualms.

So long as the relationship works, it continues, if it doesn't, then it doesn't, this works both ways, and I like that a lot.

I see this as a very honest and straightforward way of working, and its done me well for a long time.

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Bod

Re: Mercenary

Exactly, and while there are a lot of very dedicated permies there are also a lot who see their job status as a guarantee of employement and pay for a reasonable amount of time (the time it takes to go through a lengthy process to prove they are no good and kick them out, or the next round of redundancies - i.e. years, and then you have unfair dismissals, unions and the like to get in the way). The result is they can kick back and do a half arsed effort a lot of the time knowing their mortgage will be paid for a good few years yet.

The downside is they also have to deal with being treated like crap or be looking at a long process to find a better job.

The contractor is an easy hire and easy fire (though if they're good but treat them like crap they'll just be out the door next day anyway and pick up another contract somewhere better).

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Windows

Re: "Mercenary" I can see your point and in a market where............

..........there is a certain "balance of power" I can see that it would work well for the individual contractor. However, I would point out that in labour markets where the employers have to upper hand due to market conditions (it does not take very high rates of unemployment to make in an employers market) then life as a "temp" becomes a very different experience. I temped in the eighties - trust me, you would not have wanted that experience. The icon? That "down and out look" was pretty much how I felt at the time.

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Holmes

title

sweeping generalisation proven to be sweeping generalisation ,

move along nothing to see

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Bronze badge

that depends

"as employers seek more flexible workers"

Gee, yoga classes don't help?

Uncle Sam likes to hire contractors, on the Charlie Sheen theory of paying the talent not to show up but to go away. It does not bring them in by ones and twos, where the overhead of managing the payment would be too much, but in whole large contracts. The quality of staff varies greatly, but the level of commitment I would say, is all over the place, rising to "it's my job to do and I want to do it well" and falling to "they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work."

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Joke

The BOFH is a contractor

who should be committed

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Pint

I'm a contractor/consultant and I take offense to that!

To every corporation's HR manager whom I've contracted for past and present:

I'm as committed to you as you are to me.

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i prefer being a contractor

Get in.

Do the job.

Get paid.

Get out.

Easy.

Much easier than dealing with all the politics and all the other BS you come across.

Ive never been fired from a contract, but I've walked away from a few for all the above reasons.

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Coat

I love this language!

It is absolute bollocks that contractors aren't committed

It's true. I've worked with dozens of contractors, and every one of them should have been committed!

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