Future trends and developments for contingent working


What does the future hold for contingent working? Our CEO and founder Howard Hughes talks about future trends and development in the contingent workforce segment.


Where do you see the recruitment market going?

Covid-19 has caused a significant drop across permanent vacancies, which will persist, and temporary vacancies – which will not.  Historical data shows that the period after every recession sees a sharp focus on cost control and results in a contraction of full-time employment relative to an expansion in temporary staffing.  Employers need time to recover the confidence to commit to permanent roles.  From first-hand experience of the 2008 financial crisis I believe temp agencies who are organised to catch this swing will see revenues surpass pre-Covid highs, from the same client base.

What can recruitment agencies do to be prepared?

Agencies can make the most of a temporary recruitment surge firstly by having the facility.  Be ready to place temps at higher volumes with strong systems and consultants in place.   Secondly, look for new opportunities.  Industries, hirers and roles where temps have not traditionally been required may now be squarely in the temp market.  On the flip side, agencies with strong client relationships in perm should be ready to offer temps / or partner to do so, to keep a proactive grip on key client accounts.

On the candidate side of the equation the market will be briefly “vacancy led”, with higher numbers of candidates applying for each position.  Remembering the struggle to find good candidates just a few months ago, agencies should build strong relationships with every viable candidate, whether placed immediately or not.  Agencies who help the career transition for those taking their first temp contracts will also build positive relationships with candidates now likely to move jobs more often.

To push the boat out a little further, post Covid there will be more roles that can be fulfilled remotely.  Will agencies lose this business to the “Upwork’s” of this world?  Or can placing remote workers / providing remote alternatives become a new feature offering for agencies used to filling site- based placements?  I hope and believe it is the latter.

Digital innovation

From a technology perspective, the whole world is “integrating” and “collaborating”.  As your kids work around social distancing by collaborating on Fortnite, FIFA and Mindcraft –  (on just about any device you can switch on);  the recruitment industry needs to get on board with cloud based, collaborative technologies that eliminate the costs of duplicated data entry, errors and delay.

Leading agencies embrace digital innovation across their own operations and across the supply chains they operate within.  ENGAGE data shows that where candidates, agencies umbrellas and hirers operate on shared platforms there is a profound increase in efficiency for all parties – at the cost of those still operating with whiteboards, excel, email and phones.

How can Recruitment Agencies get ready for the next hurdle – IR35?

Whatever the “new normal” turns out to be, IR35 is definitely in the mix; and once again it’s just around the corner. Hirers will carry tax liabilities for IR35 through the supply chain.  They will demand real-time visibility of the engagement types and compliance processes used by recruitment agencies, umbrella companies and contractors below them.  Agencies will need to demonstrate that clients’ that IR35 status determinations and approved process will be shared and adhered to throughout the supply chain, despite large numbers or fast churn.   Shared systems with the capability to flag contractors’ IR35 status and even prove “gross to net” payments to candidates caught by IR35 will engender confidence.

Howard Hughes is CEO & Founder of ENGAGE Technology Partners.

To learn more about how ENGAGE can help with IR35 for contingent working, please click here