Long gone are the days when people would remain in a single job for most of their career. With recruitment agencies providing UK businesses 1.2 million temporary workers according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, temporary employment is an embedded work practice. And now modern workers have another way to secure short-term job and project opportunities that match their skills and availability facilitated by the web and online platforms.
Defined as a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs, the “gig economy” represents a social, cultural, and business evolution. In the UK it’s estimated that five million people are employed in this type of capacity, and the gig economy has grown by more than 70% since 2010 in London with no signs of abating. This new hiring model is understandably therefore seen as a threat by those recruitment companies that don’t understand how to capitalise on the gig economy.
As more workers provide their skills on-demand, fitting their careers around their lifestyle and personal commitments, platforms such as Upwork and Wonolo are becoming increasingly popular. This technological disruption and generational change has shifted expectations of staffing companies to have technology and processes in place to facilitate similar on-demand work opportunities. Communicating in real-time with candidates via mobile technology, changing the recruitment process to emulate online models and enabling peer-to-peer ratings are all part of the equation.
So how can recruitment businesses stay current with candidates and clients and capitalise on the growth of the gig economy?
1. Make relationships count
By leveraging your candidate database and utilising assets that online platforms don’t have – local relationships – recruitment agencies have an advantage. Selecting workers with the right skills, work ethic, and personality to fit with a company’s culture and engaging with the employer throughout the assignment duration are service elements that the majority of online platforms don’t offer. Reinforce these relationship benefits with existing customers.
2. Play the legally compliant card
In recent months there has been a backlash about the infringement of workers’ rights associated with some online models. The Taylor review of modern working practices highlights seven key principles for protecting the workforce and is worth a read for anyone in the recruitment industry. There’s a real opportunity for staffing firms to adopt technologies that allow them to compete in real-time, giving the speed of response delivered by online platforms, at the same time as safeguarding workers’ rights.
3. Embrace technological disruption
The gig economy workforce is not just tech-savvy, they are tech-led, capable of interacting with businesses at any time over any device. Adopting the right mobile-centric software makes the temporary candidate management process easier allowing you to compete with lower overhead online models. This doesn’t necessarily mean cutting headcount, it’s more about having your recruiters focus on value-adding relationship building with the time saved through greater efficiencies. By making it easier for workers to share their real-time availability via a mobile app you can deploy workers more quickly according to their skills, preferences, and location. A new breed of recruitment software, classified by The Staffing Industry Analysts as “Online Staffing Enabling Technologies” allows staffing companies to private-label their own human cloud service delivery.
4. Do your homework
The work and employment landscape is constantly evolving. Stay abreast of trends so you can act as a trusted advisor to your clients. Attend recruitment events to hear from respected speakers, technology companies, and your peers. Share relevant articles and blog posts via social media to show you are top of your game. Initiate conversations with clients to learn their views and understand their candidate attraction game-plans.
To stay current and build sustainable relationships and profitable growth you need to facilitate the level of immediacy the gig economy trades on, combining it with the value-adds you offer candidates and clients. There’s still time to be an early adopter in this new way of working. Game on.
About the author: Rachael Moss, is the Group Marketing Director of Bond International & TempBuddy.