This past week I spent 3 days meeting with 31 consultants to review their end of engagement bonus. A unique compensation structure as all of these resources are hourly, not salaried. After talking with many of them, I started thinking about the variances in access, benefits, support, and compensation models for those that are hourly pay vs salaried. Listening to this group and their experiences made me want to share a couple thoughts on the subject.
Let’s first be clear, we are talking about hourly paid W2 employees here. The industry really forced this model several years ago for a few reasons. First, retaining consultants while on the bench, or in between assignments, became an expense overhead that was not sustainable for most companies and variances in bench policies was causing consultants to leave their engagements early . Another reason was consultants liked the higher hourly pay as they did not take advantage of benefits, vacations, extended bench periods, and/or need the security associated with a lower annual salaries. Finally, there are some positions that are considered non-exempt which require an hourly salary and overtime pay. Epic credentialed trainers and go-live support resources are such an example.
For the most part, I think there are several firms who offer the same support offerings to consultants regardless of their pay model. You are part of the practice team and should have access to all the support that comes along with that. If you are a solid performer, firms want to retain you for upcoming projects, and did not hire you just for one single engagement. With that said, various retention incentives are a priority in this oversaturated Epic market. Those incentives could include bonuses, access to become Epic certified, early alignment with future engagements, and much more.
When asking if your firm should treat you differently because of your pay model, the answer should always be no. Sure, there may be variances from Human Resource benefits, but I’m talking about company support, system access, and retention incentives. As consultants, we should expect to be included in practice updates, internal communications, company events, networking opportunities, and all the benefits of being a W2 employee. If not, I would elect to be an independent consultant or switch firms.