Flexibility has undoubtedly become one of the more common turns of phrases in the past 24 months as organisations look to embrace an evolving workforce.
With demand for flexible workers at an all-time high as a result of hybrid working and the need to deliver strong business growth coming out of lockdown, it’s imperative that your company’s hiring strategy enables you to attract the best flexible talent in order to deliver this growth.
The BTN was delighted to partner with Brookson Legal recently for an exclusive round table of executive People leaders around supercharging your business growth with a flexible workforce.
The conversation was open and interactive and brought about the following talking points:
Some see IR35 as a blocker but it can also be a positive
The role of IR35 was talked about in abundance prior to its rollout. The general consensus was one of huge concern before it was rolled out and once in motion, caused panic. When we were discussing the role of a ‘flexible workforce’, this was in direct relation to hiring a workforce that grows and shrinks upon demand through utilising contractors or temporary workers.
The group discussed the change in the number of candidates that were contractors pre-IR35, who now want fixed-term contracts (FTC) or project contracts which has grown enormously. The significant impact that IR35 has had on the associate costs of flexible workers has been well documented with these costs have increased substantially. However, this is actually more of a rebalance of the cost of labour. Supply & demand hasn’t necessarily changed but the price point itself has shifted and has become a truer reflection of the labour market. Flexible staffing was perhaps considered a cheaper alternative but now there is more of a price alignment.
Navigate and shift your blend of permanent & contract
Statistics show us that 150k+ vacancies of unfilled roles have been steadily climbing month on month since the beginning of 2021. The huge volume of recruitment that has occurred recently is a result of organisations looking to scale up back to where they were pre-pandemic and beyond for growth.
Organisations have always needed permanent employees with a blend of flexible workers to align on projects, programmes, etc and that most definitely hasn’t changed. The use of contractors wasn’t equitable to permanent staff. The group spoke openly about how they had felt resistance from a number of members of staff to come on board as permanent employees due to the dissonance around flexibility that would inevitably occur.
There was an agreement within the group that if we bring people in on FTC contracts, they never stop looking for work. We must realise and swallow the fact that FTC/Contractors cost more and if we want someone who is flexible, then we will pay more.
The conversation had a blend of public and private sector representatives and was an interesting dynamic to understand how IR35 had actually impacted and affected those markets. There was a consensus that the impact within the public sector was lessened by the changes in legislation due to a large proportion of the contracts being outside IR35.
The trends in terms of in-demand talent was one that was inevitably going to be discussed with Recruiters being considered as one of the Top 5 most difficult to recruit in the current market. This has had a direct correlation on the salary demands and offers for roles such as within Recruitment, with huge increases in being offered in the market.
One of the most pertinent topics of conversation was around ensuring that you are getting your supply chain correct. If we strip back what we are doing and focus on getting the basics right, we are set up for success. A good Talent Acquisition leader knows when to use an agency. If we ensure we have an effective PSL, efficient systems and the attitudes of our recruiters is key, we have the correct foundations in place before we even go to market.
The past 24 months of uncertainty has taught certain people who historically preferred contracting, now want the stability of permanent due to vulnerabilities that come with a short-term contract. The dynamic situation of the current labour market has meant that the price point has undoubtedly changed but this has actually just made employers think more discernibly about whether a role should be contract or permanent based.
About Brookson Legal
Brookson Legal have been advising on IR35 since it was introduced in 2000. We are a mix of solicitors and paralegals, some of whom have been with the business for over a decade. We understand and advise on all aspects of flexible working. Most importantly, we are IR35 experts and human beings; we don’t rely on online tools to form a view, and we give firm, impartial advice.
Our customers come from all levels of the flexible working supply chain – contractors, agencies and hirers. Since the changes to the IR35 legislation in the Public Sector in 2017, and following confirmation that similar changes will be introduced into the Private Sector in 2020, we have been working with a rapidly-growing number of hirers to help them understand their obligations and to advise them on how they can mitigate risk, whilst maintaining all the benefits that a well-managed flexible workforce can bring to a business.