05/03/2010

By Matthew Sanders, Chief Executive, de Poel

The financial crisis of 2007-present will not be forgotten in a hurry. Strangled by a steep economic downturn, businesses suddenly found themselves under huge pressure to slash overheads, and the majority looked to do this through job cuts. Under-resourced and with low internal morale, many businesses have had the difficult task of maintaining competitive advantage in an upturn.

As a business strategy, temporary agency recruitment has long been regarded as a somewhat attractive option for firms eager to retain flexibility. As well as being a cost-effective means of expanding an existing workforce for a short-term contract, it has given organisations the power to inject specialist skills into their workplace without the hassle of advertising and firing. In the event of an upturn, it provided a timely solution to the problem of emerging from recession in what is still widely perceived as an unstable market, our own stats reflecting a 35% increase in temporary agency usage within the private sector.

The main reason for this trend is that businesses emerging from recession do not want to invest in permanent staff in case the market should suddenly dip again. Economic volatility, risk and uncertainty, means businesses are wary of new contracts being suddenly withdrawn, and so rely on a temporary workforce which can easily be disbanded should the deal fall through. Meanwhile, employing a temporary workforce removes the administrative, operational and indirect financial burden associated with permanent recruitment, the laborious process of advertising and sifting through CVs replaced by a simple phone call. This reduces indirect costs by saving time and resources which could otherwise be more efficiently allocated in other areas.

Additionally, businesses use temporary staff for their ability to supplement a labour force deficient of a strong skills set. Evidently, a lot of skilled workers made redundant by the recession have used their unfortunate circumstances as an opportunity to re-train in other sectors, seeking openings in more stable industries. Temporary agency recruitment is a particularly good way of increasing the skills base of your workforce with specialist recruitment agencies attracting specialist candidates.

Of course, temporary agency recruitment, if managed properly, is now easier, more cost effective and more streamlined than ever before, making it a favourable alternative in both the long and the short term. This is largely down to the emergence of vendor-neutral service providers like ourselves, able to manage the supply of temporary agency workers on businesses’ behalf and in the absence of a government regulator. Indeed, the arrival of this new marketplace has massively increased support for firms in this area, establishing a context for more strategic spend management, increasing visibility and control of costs and saving organisations money on their yearly expenditure. Likewise, businesses now have more opportunities to get the best out of their suppliers and new possibilities for achieving sustainable procurement.

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