The UK’s Contingent Workforce: Perfect Storm or Golden Opportunity?

UK-Contingent-Workforce-Blog

Although the phrase ‘gig economy’ has become something of a cliché, employers throughout the UK and EU would be wise to treat the phenomenon as anything but a passing fad.  

Whether you attribute its origin to the global economic doldrums of 2008 or the more recent rise in popularity of services such as Uber and Lyft, the ranks of individuals opting to forgo the “traditional” path of full-time employment and instead choose a more self-guided approach is impressive.  

According to the May 2017 Labour Force Survey from the Office for National Statistics, some 4.7 million workers throughout the UK currently identify as self-employed. This large (and growing) number is impressive in its own right, but when compared with the 6.8 million individuals who comprise the UK’s public-sector workforce, it becomes apparent that the contingent labor movement is a force to be reckoned with.

The rise of the self-employed worker comes at a time when unemployment in the UK is also hitting a ten-year low, creating something of a skills gap in wide-range of industries, as well as a rather unique set of challenges – and opportunities – for UK employers.

As these market conditions are forging a new path forward for UK workers, they’re also creating a new competitive advantage for organisations nimble enough to embrace a more contemporary staffing model.

For decades, industries such as information technology, agriculture, and healthcare have leveraged a contingent worker model with a high degree of success and profitability. Today  there’s an even more diverse set of skills, experience, and abilities available within the contingent worker pool, making a blended staffing model – “traditional” full-time employees combined with a cadre of contingent workers – more feasible and, in many ways, more advantageous for just about any organisation.

Creating such a work environment – one in which contingent and traditional workers effectively interact and collaborate – isn’t challenging, but it does require a deliberate and strategic approach, including:

  • Identifying which roles would be most advantageous to staff via a contingent worker vs. those which require an employee
  • Determining which contingent labor management model is best suited for your business needs (examples include managing the contingent workforce program in-house, through a Managed Service Provider, or through a hybrid approach)
  • Developing an effective program for sourcing, on-boarding, and off-boarding contingent workers as needs arise
  • Establishing policies and practices to facilitate communication, to coach and guide contingent workers, and, of course, to ensure they are compensated in a timely fashion

There are other factors to take into consideration – such as data and physical security, regulations and policies, and other nuances – which will vary by industry and by organisation, but tapping into this growing pool may prove to be the best way to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and avoid the sting of the skills gap and labour shortages.

If you’re ready to get started, we’re ready to help. 

Related blog posts

Have you joined our mailing list yet?

Keep updated on the most current topics in talent acquisition and talent management via our free bi-weekly digest of our recent blogs. Light on your email inbox, heavy on useful HR perspectives and information!