Why fractional hiring is the Solution to the “Talent Wars”
Why not try it?
Oct 24, 2022
Venture Atlanta 2022 was an impressive showcase of Atlanta’s rising startup stars + reflection of the city’s thriving tech ecosystem. Alongside the great pitches, VentureATL offered insightful panel discussions on most pressing issues facing the tech industry: leading through difficult financial environments, navigating through the state of the economy, and hiring + retaining top talent.
This panel was aptly titled “Talent Wars: How to Attract, Grow and Retain the World’s Best Employees” to reflect the competitive tech hiring landscape and what trends are driving employee job decisions. The discussion highlighted some important issues, and we wanted to share our take on how fractional hiring could solve the Talent Wars (in a peaceful way).
This discussion was through the lens of hiring for startups and founders. Here’s our summary of the panel’s discussion by topic and our take on each:
Remote vs. Physical Workplace
Panelists: one size does not fit all in the solution for where to work and employers should be flexible with their employees’ needs. Founders should be aware of this when deciding on how to structure their work options.
fraction’s take: Remote work has unlocked opportunities otherwise not seen in the pre-COVID era. For software developers, the potential to expand their talent horizons into new industries without having to move across the country has been tremendous. Moreover, remote work has enabled fractional work allowing developers to take on new part-time roles without forgoing their current full-time position.
Impact of the Current Macroeconomic Climate on Hiring
Panelists: there’s this belief that an economic downturn means hiring will be easier because of the influx of talent, but that’s not the case. In some ways, it’s more challenging. Talent (like executives) may decide to remove themselves from the job market because they are inundated by recruiters. But some may decide it’s time to join a startup because that’s “what is interesting to them.”
fraction’s take: In uncertain economic times developers have a chance to not only pursue something “interesting,” but also secure another form of income. For developers, fractional work with a startup would allow them to maintain their current full-time role + supplement their income. For founders, leaning into fractional hiring opens up the possibility of working with full-time senior developers without having to pay substantial overhead costs (benefits + payroll taxes + bonus + equity can easily add up to 1/3 of base salary).
Candidate Risk Aversion to Switching Roles
Panelists: financial concerns may be one of the reasons why candidates may be averse to switching to a new startup role. Recruiting is a big part of a founder’s role, but it’s also important to find a path forward that makes sense for everyone.
fraction’s take: It’s not easy to switch to a new role…and it’s really not easy if you have a family. We’ve found fractional work mitigates the risk for both developers and founders. For developers, they can maintain their full-time role + benefits while taking on an interesting startup engagement that offers supplemental income. For founders, they can access a new labor source of senior developer talent + see how they mesh with their team before extending a full-time role and the costs associated new hire on-boarding.
The Wrap Up
We agree with panelist Peter Clarke, a Talent Partner at VC firm Accel, that the zero-sum game of “Talent Wars” is too combative and does not properly humanize the process of hiring.
We also believe “Employees have free will” and employers + founders should be amenable to the interests of their employees, especially if they have the capacity + talent to contribute beyond their current role. Fractional hiring for high-performing senior software developers is an option that is both cost-effective to founders and beneficial to developers. It also enables developers to pursue an interest without leaving the safety of a larger corporation, which in turn makes more talent available to startups.
As Peter said, “Recruiting is hard…but is not an unsolvable problem,” and we think taking a fractional hiring approach can help bridge the gap between high-performing employees and startups.