California Company Free Agent Source says, with Monty Python, “And now for something completely different…”
It’s one thing to get a new cereal, a new TV show, or even a relatively new kind of car (like the hybrid). But there are areas of our lives where newness is almost unheard of, or even considered wrong.
When someone says there’s a new kind of marriage, or a new kind of religion, people get understandably a little cautious – these are bedrock institutions of the culture. But what about a new kind of work? Not as in the rising tide of social media jobs, or the growth of telecommuting. What if there were an entirely new way to ‘hold a job’?
That’s what Free Agent Source proposes to create for anyone who would like to explore it with them in about 20minutes (the length of their upcoming free webinars) – [Note: register now: web seats are going fast]. FAS, as its employees and clients call it, has wedded the best of both worlds of modern work — contract work and regular employment.
What do employees want? Lots of surveys and studies have been done to answer that question, but overall it boils down to the security of benefits (health care, 401K retirement fund, etc), and a steady paycheck.
Contractors want freedom and flexibility (whether that’s the excitement of travel for work, flexible hours, or changing projects without the fear associated with “losing a job”). They also enjoy the lucrative tendency for their worth to go up rapidly in the market, as they put projects under their belt, compared to the perhaps steady but less dramatic ‘pay raises’ of regular employees.
There are drawbacks to both types of work. Employees worry about getting laid off, or their job being outsourced, and ending up at a temp agency or staffing company, or paying a placement firm to help them compete against the zillions of other applicants for fewer jobs. Their benefits don’t follow them from job to job either, which may mean starting over every 3-5 years. Contractors may have to contend with spending a portion of their evenings doing paperwork and bookkeeping, from accounting for 1099 contractors, to constantly producing expense reports. Contractors also have to buy their own benefits.
But what if you could combine the best of both worlds? What if you got the freedom and flexibility of being a contractor, but the benefits of an employee? What if you actually went one better – you got full benefits like an employee, but they follow you from job to job (contract to contract). What if you could negotiate using a standard corp to corp contract, skipping staffing agencies, and opening more doors and perhaps better pay? And what if the company did accounting and expense reports for you?
Suddenly new job markets (as contractors) are wide open to standard employees that normally they wouldn’t touch, meaning they aren’t competing with just everyone, but they keep the security of being employees.
Contractors get to spend their days doing what they went to work to do (whether that’s IT, project management, or whatever) and spend their evenings doing whatever they want.
That’s the vision of Steve Pruneau, founder of Free Agent Source. He created the concept of a “Free Agent” as an employee with access to the lucrative, flexible employment world of a contractor, and a contractor that benefits from the security and freedom of an employee. It’s “the best of both worlds”, as he likes to say.
Steve founded his company, with a small circle of colleagues, on the notion that it shouldn’t be as hard as it is for employees to chase security, and contractors to chase freedom, but neither party rarely actually find it. Especially in the current economy, Pruneau sees an opportunity to change the definition of work for a lot of people – to revise how people think about the relationship of worker to company.
“HR professionals, hiring managers, and project teams will benefit immensely from putting people to work this way,” says Pruneau. “If they’ve laid off people, they can bring them back to work without the risk for traditional employment, but without the hassles of staffing agencies.” If they need to staff up, he says, in a tentative economy with an uncertain future, they can do so with a corp to corp contract that protects them, gives them flexibility, but actually invites the most dedicated and talented staff. They’re not temps, they’re contractors of the company, but they’re employees of Free Agent Source. They’re “Free Agents”.
Pruneau points out that this works well for everyone. Staffing agencies typically aren’t transparent – they can take up to 75% of a worker’s pay, and you can’t see how much they’re scooping out. They also don’t support their workers with a full benefits package that’s portable between jobs. That’s not how you attract the best and most devoted talent – it’s bad for workers, bad for companies. Contractors often return to the normal workforce after a few years of carrying the taxes, benefits, and paperwork on their shoulders, and lose out on the fun and freedom work is supposed to bring. Employees hunt for jobs and then spend their time focused on keeping them more than on excelling in what they do, and treating it as a profession.
“Free Agents”, says Pruneau, “are the future of work. What we’re providing with Free Agent Source is an entrance into something new yes, but also into the next normalcy – the next standard of expectations for both workers and companies. Why shouldn’t it be fun and free? Why does it have to be hard?” Their launch is in California, and those are the questions being answered by Free Agent Source in their webinar. Anyone seeking work in California, or looking to put people to work in California, are welcome to attend free. Register at: www.freeagentsource.com/webinar