It is common today to have four, or even five generations working together at the same company. And recent reports in Switzerland highlighted that many employers are now becoming overwhelmed by generational expectations. Not only do different generations have different visions and expectations of work, but they also work and communicate in different ways.

In addition to the “generational” challenges, there are also cultural challenges to consider in Switzerland. Four official languages across 26 cantons, as well as a significant percentage of foreign nationals working in the country (32.9% in 2022), mean there can rarely be one consensus view on everything!


Control the controllable’s?

In a biweekly newsletter Prof. Dr. Anina Hille a Lecturer at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, warned that if employers do not adapt, employees will leave.

The successful management of workers is now no longer just about job-training and offering a competitive salary with soft rewards:

  • For younger generation workers, workplace and job flexibility is now seen as non-negotiable with any employment offer.
  • For older workers, stability, security & defined processes are deemed as being more important.
  • With many baby boomers now retiring, know-how and expertise is disappearing.  This is placing additional strains on companies.

The subject of generational staff management and motivation is as wide as it is deep. Complex doesn’t even begin to describe some of the challenges at hand for HR colleagues and for Company CEOs whose core “raison d’être” is after all to focus and lead the business to make a profit.

One way to combat an outflow of skilled workers is for businesses to outsource non-strategic tasks and engage skilled workers for an agreed project, mission or time period.

There are several “quick wins” for the company when it engages this strategy and when skilled workers are brought on board as contractors  (i.e. not as as employees):

  • Skilled and experienced workers can “plug into” and even lead projects with little or no training required.
  • The recruitment process is generally a lot quicker and less costly compared to hiring a full time employee.
  • As skilled workers are engaged as contractors, this allows the company flexibility in terms of duration of contract, hiring costs and budget.
  • By engaging skilled workers from “outside”, mixed teams can be created with employees benefiting from expert industry knowledge, skills and experience. The process of working with contractors is also referred to as “labour leasing”



How does the labour leasing process work?

The first thing to say is that Labour Leasing is not new to Switzerland. Some of the first worker’s brought into to Switzerland to work on special projects, were Italian labourers in the 19th century helping build the Gothard Railway! Today in Switzerland a significant number of skilled foreign workers are engaged as contractors. These include around 380’000 cross border workers! According to official figures, the total number of contractors  & freelancers based in Switzerland could be up to 25% of the total work force.

The definition “contractor” differs from that of “freelancer”.

  • A contractor is seen as a skilled worker that is engaged by one client company to work on a defined project or assignment at the agreed terms and conditions for a stipulated period of time.
  • A freelancer on the other hand, can have multiple jobs with several companies consecutively.
  • Both contractor’s and freelancers may have their own companies, but generally speaking – when working in Switzerland for a client company, the contractor will be employed by a labour leasing company.
  • The labour leasing company in turn, then leases the contractor to the client company at the agreed rates and conditions.


  • The contractor searches for a role with a (client) company in Switzerland. This is usually a project role requiring specific skills and is usually advertised by the company or a recruiter.
  • The contractor agrees terms and conditions with the client company and then has to find a so-called “umbrella” employment services company such as Swissroll to manage their payroll.
  • The employment services company signs terms with both the client company (as a supplier) and the contractor (as the employee). The contractor then has a Swiss employment contract with the employment services company and pays into all statutory Swiss social funds.
  • The contractor reports directly to the client company and the employment services company manages the payroll and can offer other HR support as agreed.

Which companies can work with which contractors in Switzerland?

  • To be able to work in Switzerland, the contractor needs to have a permit or be in a position of being able to obtain one
  • For EU/EFTA nationals this is generally not a problem thanks to the EU/FMOP act. For 3rd country nationals on the other hand it is much more difficult.
  • Both Swiss based and foreign based companies can engage workers in Switzerland. This also includes for remote work.


In Summary

Multi-generational workers, cultural differences and a shortage of skilled talent and know-how, mean that more and more companies based in Switzerland are looking to contractors to fill talent gaps for projects, assignments or simply to engage talent rapidly. There are several advantages for both the client company and the contractor when establishing a labour leasing relationship – flexibility, speed of hire, subject expertise and know-how are just some. For a non-binding discussion with our team click here to make an appointment.


Swissroll GmbH was founded over 20 years ago. During this time our team of experts has worked with hundreds of companies and literally thousands of contractors. Also cross border workers. Beyond our core function of payroll management, we offer advice to workers about which engagement model best suits theirs, and the clients needs. This includes giving advice in French, German and English. Call or contact us now on: