How non-permanent labour is shifting and how procurement can buy more effectively

Staff developmentTalent and LeadershipWestern Europe

In this guest post, Matthew Sanders, CEO of de Poel, shares his thoughts on the temporary labour market and details potential opportunities are for procurement.


The labour market, both in the UK and abroad, is undertaking a significant shift. As the economy begins to recover, businesses are looking to hire more staff; however, many are (understandably) wary of appointing staff on a permanent basis. As such, a surge has been seen over the past few years in the number of non-permanent workers in the UK, which has reached nearly 1.6 million.


This trend is being seen across all of the major Western economies – in the US, non-permanent workers make up a third of the workforce, according to the Government Accountability Office. The Globe newspaper recently reported that temporary work in Canada has grown at more than triple the pace of permanent employment.


The reason for this is that a high head count can quickly kill a business if orders start to dry up. Employing a contingent workforce can enable businesses to have greater flexibility in managing staffing demand – either up or down as it requires. By implementing a non-permanent workforce, businesses can plan for the future by creating a scalable workforce, bringing in employees as and when they need more help. Non-permanent labour can help a business plug short-term gaps and also opens the talent pool to international workers if a specific skill or talent is needed.


The myth that non-permanent labour is just for those stacking shelves or driving lorries needs to be dispelled. The truth of the matter is that non-permanent work is shifting to more traditional ’white collar’ roles, including those at board level. Many STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) roles are rapidly becoming non-permanent positions as well. This is due to many companies coming across a skills shortage in STEM positions like engineers, nurses and lab technicians.


Furthermore, if a business uses non-permanent labour it also means that they aren’t subjected to the same risks and costs attached to employee absence, which is a growing cost for businesses. Overall, using non-permanent labour can help a business, of any size, drive down costs through recruitment, employee absence and creating a flexible workforce – ticking boxes for the business and heads of procurement.


For businesses considering implementing a non-permanent labour force, it’s imperative to work with a neutral partner who is knowledgeable about this labour market. To buy effectively, a company must firstly audit what its needs are and measure where temporary positions may be suitable. Once assessed, if a company has a need for non-permanent labour, economies of scale may be available if procured through a single transaction or through a single agency. As always in the world of procurement, it pays to do your homework and understand who the biggest players are. Look to partner with a company that can truly add value to your business through increased flexibility and cost savings.


Matthew Sanders is CEO of de Poel


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