The concept of flexible work arrangements has never been as important in the world of work as it is today. Businesses are realizing how much they have to gain from incorporating flexible staffing and contingent talent into their HR strategies, with the benefits ranging from cost efficiencies to quicker access to specialist skills. Meanwhile, workers are increasingly recognizing the professional, financial and lifestyle benefits gained from freelancing, contracting and ‘gig’ working.

There has been plenty of research conducted and statistics produced to illustrate these trends and show the growth taking place in the flexible workforce. If you’re looking to step up your use of contingent workers and thinking about how this approach will fit with your business, it’s worth considering some of the pros and cons of hiring talent with flexible work arrangements.


Randstad has compiled a checklist of 7 stats that show the benefits of hiring flex workers.

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pro: access niche skills

One of the biggest recruitment challenges many businesses face is identifying and acquiring the skills they need in the mainstream labour market. Three-quarters (75%) of HR professionals experiencing recruitment difficulties say there is a shortage of skills among candidates, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Talent scarcity is particularly acute in sectors such as engineering and IT. The COVID-19 crisis has driven up unemployment and increased the number of people looking for work, but businesses will still find it difficult to acquire the skills they need in highly specialized areas.

Research has shown that existing workforce skills fall short of what’s required for employees to perform their jobs at maximum productivity levels. The ever-growing pool of freelance and contingent talent available in the flexible labour market can help your business access skills and experience that are difficult to source through traditional hiring.

con: potential lack of engagement

Flex workers are an undeniable source of skills, but they’re not permanent members of your organization. It’s understandable if you have some concerns about their overall engagement with the business and what it’s trying to achieve. Do your contingent staff understand your long-term vision as an organization, and are they committed to helping you achieve it? These are valid questions to ask.

If key stakeholders within your businesses harbour concerns, there are steps you can take to minimize the risks of flexible staffing. For example, it’s important to make sure you’re avoiding common mistakes when onboarding contingent workers. If you get this stage of the process right, you’re more likely to see positive results in the long run.

Another effective measure to engage your contingent workforce is to work on building lasting relationships with flex workers, potentially with a focus on bringing them onboard permanently, if that’s something both parties would be interested in.

pro: cost efficiency

Achieving maximum cost efficiency for human capital will always be a key goal for HR departments, and engaging contingent talent when you have an urgent need for skills is a good way to achieve it.

Hiring a permanent employee is a considerable financial commitment, with costs like advertising the role, onboarding, training, salary and benefits to take into account. Companies also lose money and productivity while positions are left unfilled. Bringing in flexible workers can help you optimize your HR budget by ensuring you’re only paying for the skills and services you need, when you need them. This proves particularly important if you have short-term requirements and need specialized skills to complete a one-off project or need additional staff to meet a seasonal spike in demand, for example.

Many companies will benefit from the short-term cost efficiency of contingent staff in 2020, as they look to get back to business and plug skills gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

con: less control

Temporary hiring is a good way to acquire the skills you need quickly and keep your human capital costs under control, but some HR managers might have concerns that using flexible staff will mean they have less control over their workforce. Traditional recruitment and hiring permanent staff gives you time to engage and build relationships with employees. You can work with new recruits to ensure they’re familiar with how the company works and what will be expected of them in their role.

While the onboarding process for contingent talent will certainly be different, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sacrifice control. It’s important to make sure any temps and contractors you hire fit in well with your company culture and method of working. Reference checking tools like Checkster can make this job easier. You can also minimize risks to your organization by working with an experienced staffing partner who brings in-depth knowledge of your sector and the local labour market to the table.

pro: evolving with the times

The way people and businesses work is changing all the time. Those trends are moving even faster with the COVID-19 pandemic. If you want to keep up with fast-moving trends in talent acquisition and worker expectations, you need to be prepared to change how you find and hire workers.

Research shows:

Companies that don’t evolve and keep up with these trends are at risk of being left behind. Randstad has compiled a list of stats that underline the benefits of having a flexible workforce.


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