Joe Tully, Managing Director of de Poel

Member Article

Valuing the temporary workforce

Since 2012, the number of people in the UK in permanent jobs has stayed roughly static and the number of people in temporary work has risen steadily. A recent report from Innovantage shows that the number of online job ads in the UK stipulating flexible working patterns jumped 26% in the last two years. We are seeing a rise in the number of people that don’t want a traditional employment contract.

Too many organisations still view this as a challenge when it is actually a considerable commercial opportunity.

This is largely down to the outdated perception many UK organisations still have of what a flexible, contingent workforce looks like, and how to manage it effectively. This is about smarter processes that link the right worker to the right role, given the needs of both the organisation and the individual. It is here that too many organisations fall down.

Managing a contingent workforce as just another commodity is exactly how you limit its value. The organisations that realise the true potential of contingent workers are those that see them as part of their core team, and deploy them as a strategic weapon within their overall HR strategy, boosting and reducing headcount and skill sets in different operational areas depending on organisational needs. They only activate and deploy contingent workers when they know they will deliver value at a specific point in time and for a specific role, forecasting both the amount of resource and type of skills required.

Unfortunately, this is the exception not the rule. Too often we still see contingent workers used as a commodity resource, simply to fill short term gaps, when in reality the scope of the contingent workforce spans a much broader range of individuals, working in different capacities and for different personal and professional reasons. A high-end contractor delivering IT consultancy for large scale engineering projects is as much a part of the UK’s contingent workforce as someone just out of university stacking shelves as a way to fund a year of travelling. What these people have in common is their desire for flexibility. Their circumstances may be different but their requirements are the same. We therefore need to dispel the myth that all contingent workers are in low paid jobs. More and more “white collar” jobs are being offered on a contract basis, even board level positions. This goes across all industry sectors. People are opting for temporary work as a lifestyle choice. In a permanent position it isn’t just the employer that is locked down, the employee is, too.

Concerns around requests for flexible working simply reflect the inaccurate perception that flexibility is a problem. It’s not. If anything it is a demonstration that there is a real shift towards contingent working and an expectation that this sector of the workforce will continue to grow. The real question now is when will more organisations recognise that it is an opportunity not a threat? If they can change their view of contingent workers, and manage this part of the workforce in the right way, there are significant benefits to be had.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Joe Tully, MD at de Poel .

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