The word ‘revolution’ is often overused, but the rise of freelance working has truly been revolutionary for business and HR. According to the ONS, the percentage of self-employment in total employment in the UK reached 15% in 2018, up from 11% at the turn of the century (and barely 7-8% throughout the 1970s). This is happening internationally, too. According to Deloitte, in the United States more than 40% of workers are now employed in “alternative work arrangements,” such as contingent, part-time, or gig work.
This is bringing tax changes. From April 2020, as IR35 rules are extended, businesses in the private and charity sectors will be required to check whether contractors and freelancers need to pay income tax and national insurance.
But the trend for flexible freelancers brings opportunities, too. An agile resource model created by the gig economy helps HR to bring in talent on a capability or project biases. This removes the need to create internal opportunities but places a greater focus on onboarding and off boarding processes: giving workers the very best experience of your company becomes even more important, as the word of your employment practices quickly spreads throughout the freelance community. External hires, long time employees, and freelancers alike, need to feel equally valued and justly rewarded.
Accelerating change with talent agility
For successful businesses, says EY, this means that “technology is creating new and more flexible ways to meet demand. A contingent workforce can help drive and accelerate change”. The same report goes on to say that given the extraordinary pace of technology change, contingent workers can actually provide “a critical bridge” to integrate new products, services, technology, without having to expand full-time equivalent headcount.
Oracle’s HR Marketer’s Guide to Talent Acquisition says that “there are a number of reasons why HR and talent-acquisition teams actively choose to use contingent workers. In a world of work that’s becoming increasingly project-focused, contingent workers provide a fast and simple way of acquiring key missing skills.”
However, the benefits can only be realised with the right grasp of data and technology and an end-to-end employee experience. As the HR Marketer’s Guide goes on to say: “To enable faster, more flexible workforce management, you need a single complete view of all internal and external talent. You need to bring all of your pools together into one highly visible and manageable talent resource, so at any given time you can spot the right person for the right project – or bring them in if they’re not already with you.”
Talent agility starts with recruitment
Having a diverse, flexible workforce can actually be very problematic if you don’t have the right tools and oversight to recruit and manage your talent pool. Oracle’s HCM Workforce Management dashboards help organisations enhance their productivity and ability to adapt on the fly with a workforce management solution that effortlessly reduces the time to hire, improves the candidate experience while also tracking, recording, and calculating time for employees of all types, from contingent workers to FTEs. This includes being able to deploy company policies globally while supporting the needs of local jurisdictions.
Put simply, it’s about replacing guesswork with data. Ensuring an organisation is attracting the ‘right' talent is one of the challenges for modern recruiting solutions. With the right partner, it can be data-driven and straightforward, with a human touch.
Contingent workers can provide the speed and flexibility talent acquisition teams are looking for. But only if you have the right skills and tools to do it right. It’s critical for organisations to think not only about the internal employee experience but the external and alumni experience, too.