HR · 26 November 2015

Small firms rely increasingly heavily on freelancers and temps

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Indeed’s survey finds that the vast majority of UK small businesses need flexible and part-time workers to plug the labour gap

Some 84 per cent of small businesses in the UK depend on freelancers and temporarily contracted workers to overcome a nationally-felt skills shortage, new research from Jobsite Indeed has shown.

A survey conducted amongst 250 small firms from across the UK demonstrates that 44 per cent of small business owners are “effectively scaling their business” by choosing to hire freelancers or non-permanent staff willing to work flexible hours.

Further figures show that 39 per cent of those small firms struggling to fill vacant roles indicated that an option to work flexibly attracted a higher calibre of recruit, suggesting that more and more talented people prefer jobs that fit into their own schedules.

The research also revealed the industries that are least able to plug respective skill gaps. According to Indeed’s statistics, 68 per cent of legal service firms asked struggle to find the right permanent staff, whereas 50 per cent of manufactures and 52 per cent of travel and transport SMEs also depend on part-timers.

Encouraged by the number of small businesses embracing the new working style preferred by many, Indeed UK managing director Bill Richards said: “Thanks to their nimble structure, small firms are in many ways better placed than larger companies to take advantage of this new breed of jobseeker.”

“SMEs have less time and resources to devote to recruiting, making it increasingly difficult for them to compete with larger and more established companies for the best candidates,” he added. It is promising to see that so many small companies are already embracing a flexible workforce as an effective way to overcome the challenges of hiring in today’s market.”

The Indeed survey also reveals which areas of the UK are most likely to embrace felxible working culture. In the North West of the country, 93 per cent of small businesses are likely to rely on a temporary workforce, whereas in London just 25 per cent of firms do.

With costs cited as the primary reason small businesses remain reluctant to hire staff on a permanent basis, the survey also discovered that many fear the National Minimum Wage: due to be introduced in April next year.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

Work and Wellbeing