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What does fractional employment mean?

Saving money is good for a company's bottom line. I think we all agree with that.

When salaries are the highest budget item, reducing staff costs is something employers must consider. Most people think hiring fractional employees is about cost savings, but it's so much more than that.

Man standing in suit with cell phone facing a wall that reads productivity
Photo credit: Unsplash

I've been working as a fractional VP of People for a few years, and I started Talent To Team as a way to provide more fractional HR talent to companies. I didn't realize how valuable fractional employment could be before I entered this type of employment, and I wish more founders and CEOs realized why fractional is truly a competitive advantage.

Fractional employment means this

Fractional employment is different than being part-time, interim, an advisor, or a consultant. It may encompass any of those traits, but the bottom line is this:

You pay a person for a fraction of their time and they work for you as if they were on your staff.

Fractional employees are doers, many bring strategy and execution, and are usually paid on an hourly basis. This means you can hire top experts at a fraction of the cost compared to if they worked for you full-time. This also means fractional employees work for multiple companies at the same time, so they have a breadth of experiences to share with you and your team.

I want to talk about the real reasons fractional employment is a game changer as well as a competitive advantage for companies. At Talent to Team we provide fractional HR professionals to companies, and we've seen a myriad of benefits to our clients beyond cost reduction.

Top reasons fractional employment is beneficial to your company:

Fractional team members have the resources and exposure to be some of the best in the market

When I started working for myself, I had the time and resources to invest in my own training and development that I never had before. Now add to that working with three to four clients instead of one employer, I was exposed to different ways of thinking and doing that benefited the rest of my clients.

Cool heads prevail

I call this reason the “cool aunt” syndrome. Stay with me here. I absolutely love my clients and I love that they treat me as one of the team. But if there’s a day where a decision is made that I don’t agree with, or we have to start a plan for layoffs, I can be more objective. I don’t have the same amount of ego or financial dependence involved in each company. Hence: cool aunt. They love you even if you decide to drop out of college and go to clown school because their entire being is not wrapped up in your decisions being a reflection of their own. They may not agree, but they can still support you through your journey.

Companies grow faster than people do

That’s not to say any of us who have been on the startup rocket haven’t grown immensely, but it’s true. The needs of the business often grow faster than the current talent can service and sometimes it’s still too early to bring in the corporate teams. This is where fractional is incredibly helpful. You can use tiger teams with experience scaling companies from where you are to where you are going without the drama when it’s time to part ways. Many fractional folks like us, will support you when it’s time to hire full time or find another fractional executive with the skill sets you need. We are almost always beginning with the end in mind because we know what we are good at, and what we are not.

Fractional executives are business owners

Not only can we empathize with Founders & CEOs, but we can leverage our networks to help them. We can avoid mistakes we’ve seen at other companies, or we can pull in experts who we have seen solve them before. There is nothing better than a warm referral because this partner has proven their value to your team before you have been introduced.

No one needs to know we are fractional

In most cases, the full team doesn’t know we're fractional. That's because we have a company email, we attend weekly staff meetings, and we use the term “we.” The only thing the company loses in our interaction is the overhead of another employee.

We don’t burn out the same way employees do

As fractional employees, we get busy for sure! But when we are burning the midnight oil, we are being compensated fairly for it. We have a say in what work we do, so we choose work that makes us happy and engaged. We may overwork ourselves sometimes, but owning your own business makes you really excellent at communicating and boundaries to avoid the dreadful burnout.

We don’t just advise, we “do”

Fractional executives are different from consultants because we won’t just point out the issue, we point it out and partner with you to fix it. I would be annoyed if my plumber came over to tell me what the issue was without fixing it. We get our hands dirty with you (not related to the plumber metaphor).

The last point is not one I would have thought of before I started doing the work

There is an added level of trust and transparency that teammates give you as a fractional person. Our bills are still paid by the CEO, but the “cool aunt” syndrome means that if I need to give the CEO tough feedback, I’m more likely to do it because they don’t have the same power over me like they do with a full-time employee. Sure, they can fire me, but if I have a diversified income, I’m more likely to state the uncomfortable truth because a negative reaction would not risk my entire livelihood.

If all this sounds good to you, consider adding fractional support where you need it.


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