10th May 2021

The rise of the freelancers and the march of the contractors


Why many think freelance and contract working is better

People who sell their skills as freelance, contractors or consultants are generally very savvy around the issues affecting employment, benefits and tax. Many reject full time employment because, generally speaking, working in temp and contract roles:

Temp and contract staff are seasoned to this way of working. Many are highly experienced and might have been through the very disruptive upheaval of redundancy, perhaps even more than once.

In part, their intelligence around employment issues flows from access to online information sources. Many recruiters are executing content marketing strategies, sharing useful knowledge to create brand awareness. But beyond providing information that helps workers better navigate the employment landscape, some in the recruitment sector are building communities of temps and contractors.

One prime example of this is The Freelance Informer. This website is building a community by acting as a focal point for content relating to freelance and contract working and the wider issues and concerns of those that choose to work that way. In one sense, such a community can be viewed as social unionisation. In the future, this block of labour may be able to speak with a single voice and act collectively in its own best interests…

Strong drivers for freelance and contract working

For the last 20 years or so, economic upheavals such as the bursting of the Dot-com bubble, the credit crunch and COVID-19 have been highly disruptive to markets, economic sectors and individual businesses.

Technology continues to develop, forcing change through automation, machine learning and AI. And it’s not just tech itself, but also the biggest tech companies exert significant power, challenging governments, tax laws and accepted practices.

Markets can flip in a very short space of time and shaky geopolitics means the conditions for economic instability can arise very quickly. Re-organising business models and migrating to cleaner energy sources to battle climate change is going to see the disappearance of some industries completely.

These conditions are set to continue with the forces of disruption only getting stronger. In such circumstances, it is clear that freelance and contract working is only going to increase. Disruption to markets frequently causes lumpy demand, creating difficulties for businesses to plan production and match resources with the needs of customers. Managing fixed costs for full time employees is a big headache when there are peaks and troughs in demand.

The gig economy has shown one way of enabling HR to be brought into step with demand. However, for some, issues such as zero hours contracts and the avoidance of employer responsibility and liability are too contentious.

This makes freelance and contract working the most widely acceptable form of employment for helping business negotiate the challenges of increased volatility and uncertainty.

Adapt to increased temp and contract working with ETZ

Recruiters need to adapt to the needs and meet the expectations of an increasingly knowledgeable and savvy freelance and contract workforce. Perhaps the most important thing recruiters can do is to be fair and transparent in their dealings. Communicating honestly and openly is the key to building stronger relationships with temps and contractors, and that ultimately helps to retain them.

When it comes to dealing with the increased agency workload resulting from growing demand for freelance and contract workers, ETZ is a hub technology that enables outstanding efficiency gains. Quite simply, ETZ automates timesheet, invoicing and payment processes, streamlining the back office and maximising profitability.

To find out more about how we help agencies like yours to adapt to an employment market that is being constantly reshaped by disruption, technology and economics, book a demo.

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