The future is flexible labour
We’ve all been hoping for a recovery for far too long, even though some people even say it’s just over the horizon, while other, more optimistic souls say it’s already here.
So there’s definitely a difference of opinion, but most are agreed that whenever this recovery does happen, it’s going – very much – to be a stop/start process.
And that’s the problem, because the stop/start process means that when it comes to labour requirements, businesses are going to be caught between the devil, the deep blue sea, a rock … and a hard place.
Should they take on new staff when taking on a new contract? It’s a great idea in theory but there are too many variables to make that course of action a hard and fast rule of thumb.
What happens at the end of that contract? Or even what happens should that contract fall through? Having surplus staff with nothing to do is an expensive proposition, likewise severance payments and any other costs related to employment termination.
Between the devil and the deep blue sea lies the question of risking higher, less productive staffing levels for a potentially lucrative contract … while between the rock and the hard place sits the risk of passing up on that potentially lucrative contract in order to keep staffing costs if not manageable, at least predictable.
But there is a middle way.
It’s an excellent way of ensuring additional personnel have precisely the skills required, and that they provide those skills only for as long as it’s absolutely necessary …
… by hiring freelance staff on a per-project basis.
No matter whether the recovery is on or just beyond the horizon, the recession has seen many businesses changing their hiring philosophy, according to researchers at Kingston University. They’ve found there’s been a sea change in hiring philosophy: businesses are taking that middle way by hiring freelance staff … and that the number of freelancers in the UK has grown by 12% since the recession began.
Professor Andrew Birke, of the Cranfield School of Management, says that qualified contractors are an increasingly important section of the labour market in that if they can pave a company’s way to increased business, then scaling up operations can go a long way towards creating more permanent jobs.
Obviously there are financial advantages in taking on freelancers, not least of which are the lack of tax and employee benefit obligations, but that’s not the best reason to go down that route.
The flexibility of taking on precisely the right person with precisely the right skills – for the precise time it takes to get the job done – is the best way of creating more business in this economic climate – however near or far-off that long-awaited recovery might be.