Dubbed the Great Resignation, more people are moving into the freelance and contractor world than ever post-COVID (exacerbating an already-compelling trend) — but that needn’t drive recruiters to panic stations.
Flexible workers – freelancers, contractors, and temps – add massive strategic value, empowering agility, combatting skills shortages, and protecting your permanent employees’ well-being.
Here are six reasons flexible workers should be a major chunk of your future workforce.
1 – Boost business agility and decrease risk
The biggest benefit of working with freelancers and contractors is the flexibility they afford. Bringing skills into the business as you need rather than adding to your permanent wage bill means you can pivot fast as your needs change.
It empowers you to get closer to changing demand and seize opportunities faster – or step-back from your original plans faster if the opportunity is no longer there.
Complementing your permanent team with contractors empowers you to:
- Build or shed muscle quickly around customer needs
- Test areas of new demand before committing
- Pivot faster to seize new market opportunities
For example, is it a good strategic move to start offering cosmetic procedures in your healthcare organisation? Hiring a contracting consultant means you could move faster to test the waters, rather than months of costly permanent recruitment, notice periods, and onboarding. And if it didn’t work out, it’s not nearly such a big deal.
2 – Release budget to invest where it counts
Freelancers and contractors typically charge more on an hourly, daily, or project basis than employees but they’re more cost-effective overall. (That’s especially true if you’re recruiting and managing them using contractor management software rather than relying on costly agency support.)
Consider what you’re not paying:
- No holiday
- No sick pay
- No insurance
- No pension
- No office costs
- No L&D
- No expenses
And you only pay flexible talent when you need support, so you never pay for downtime or slow periods.
Depending on your business model, you’ll typically save 20% to 50% compared to hiring a full-time employee with the same skillset, releasing money you can invest elsewhere.
For example, offering that exceptional in-demand candidate the extra 5% to match their other offers. Or increasing bonuses for your in-house team to safeguard against competitors headhunting.
Being cost-efficient about building the right talent mix empowers you to splurge where you couldn’t before, to compete with organisations operating with bigger budgets.
3 – Counteract insularity with outside perspectives
Businesses in almost every industry are wracked with disruption, squeezed by increasing competition, and buffeted by fast-changing customer demand. Like skyscrapers designed to bend in the wind, organisations must accommodate change with an outside-in mindset. Those that are rigid and inflexible won’t hold fast for long.
This mindset is at odds with the insularity in many companies. A strong culture is one thing but only hearing opinions from within that culture, from your core decision-makers and employees, forfeits a broad external perspective.
Working with contractors and freelancers, particularly those at more senior levels with specialist skills, insights, connections, and expertise in your industry, can unlock new perspectives that can be invaluable.
Say you’re going through a rebrand.
Internal stakeholders know your company, missions, values, and journey inside-out. But those things can also be baggage, encouraging decisions that are self-gratifying rather than market-attuned. If your customers are your priority not your executives, then an outside perspective can be extremely useful.
4 – Widen your talent pool
Skills shortages are getting worse in almost every industry, raising the burden on recruitment, increasing costs, and slowing time-to-hire. Skills shortages aren’t a new problem but despite years of focus, organisations have made little progress overcoming them.
Proactive recruitment marketing, community building, and talent nurturing are important tactics but they’re not differentiators anymore. Working with flexible talent can be another important string to your bow, especially if those freelancers and contractors can work remotely.
Suddenly your available talent pool can include:
- Global workers
- Workers with accessibility needs
- Working parents or carers
- Part-time workers
5 – Improve delivery by boosting in-house specialist skills
Imagine your construction company has just won a major new building contract, but under much more stringent environmental regulations than you’re used to. You could do your best with your in-house team – or you could hire someone external with years of experience successfully delivering projects like this.
That’s a major benefit of hiring contingent talent. Contracting someone with niche specialist skills means you can complement your in-house expertise, when hiring someone full-time doesn’t make sense. To improve delivery for your customers and clients.
6 – Protect employee well-being and decrease absenteeism
One in four people in England experience mental health issues every year, Mind say. Organisations have a moral responsibility to act – and a financial impetus, given the costs of poor well-being in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. £45 million a year for UK employers, to be exact.
Cited by 38% of employees, heavy workload is the leading cause of workplace stress – so managing workloads is the highest-impact place to effect change.
Heavy workload is a leading driver of poor employee well-being. Working with freelancers, contractors, and temps helps alleviate workloads, without compromising on delivery.
Contingent talent is the best way to do that while also maintaining delivery. Particularly if you’ve built a reliable pool of contractors, you can bring trusted people into the business on extremely short notice to cover sickness and holidays, or provide extra support for scope creep or busy periods.