Top tips for making the temporary labour market work for you

Empty 12 November 2020

At the beginning of 2020, the Office for National Statistics reported that there were 1.4 million temporary employees working across a variety of roles in the UK. The contribution the temporary workforce has traditionally made to the economy cannot be understated, and over the coming months this is likely to increase even further.

Indeed, when economic conditions are either in a state of flux or rapid growth, demand for temporary over permanent talent goes up. In the case of the former, temporary workers are often brought in to plug those gaps which are left when companies have been forced to scale back their workforces.

For those experiencing bouts of growth, it is not uncommon to see teams dominated by contingency talent to steer a project through to conclusion. So as an employer, how can you get the most from this rich source of talent?

Learn from the last recession: The recovery that followed the recession of 2008 saw a marked shift in the roles that organisations were hiring for. Focus turned from long term planning to business continuity, employers quickly learned how to leverage contract workers to support them. This continued even when the green shoots of recovery began to blossom. In fact, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation reported that 95 per cent of vacancies filled by the recruitment and executive search industry in the year 2012-13 were temporary roles.

Temporary does not always mean ‘temporary’: When we think of a ‘temporary worker’, many people assume that we mean the role will last from as little as a few days to a handful of weeks at most. This is a misnomer. Contracts can, and often do in our experience of having worked with hundreds of employers, extend beyond days and weeks to months and even years. So, when planning your workforce requirements, you can onboard talent for as long as the project requires without the need to convert their contract into a permanent one.

Plan for growth: The key to bouncing back (and moving forward) is the ability to react quickly. Interim – or contingent – workers can be drafted in to support the business even at short notice, which can benefit employers in two ways. Firstly, it avoids delays in waiting for top talent to serve their notice period and that in turn ensures there are no delays in kick-starting projects. And second, when a position is either unexpectedly made vacant or newly created then an interim executive can quickly plug the gap.

Try before you buy: When an employer creates a new role that has not previously existed within the business, opting for an interim who has performed such a role elsewhere might be a better option. The reason being that it provides the employer with the opportunity to see how the role is manifested in practice enabling them to better understand how it fits within the organogram and whether their vision for the role in question is an accurate one. Either way, taking the interim route can keep hiring costs to a minimum and the business itself can learn and benefit from the experience of the interim post holder. In fact, in conjunction with your chosen recruitment partner, they could provide advice and direction on what a successful, permanent replacement should ‘look’ like.

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