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The gig economy is changing the face of the staffing industry; it is growing at a phenomenal rate in the UK and is showing no signs of slowing down. More and more employers and workers are moving towards a temporary contingent workforce and the dramatic rise is down to a number of factors, such as changing economic and market conditions, skill shortages and a shift in perceptions towards general working patterns.

The contingent workforce, freelancers and contractors, often enjoy higher job satisfaction as they have the flexibility, control and choice as to when, where and how they work; while employers can flex their workforce to meet immediate needs or demands that can occur overnight, and tap into a rich pool of talent with strategic skills and experience that are not part of their existing workforce, without the encumbrance and responsibility of keeping them on the payroll.

There have been clear changes in expectations of both clients and candidates. Nevertheless, staffing and recruiting firms are and can continue to be a valuable and welcome part of the gig economy, although in order to survive and indeed thrive they need to ensure that they offer second to none levels of service, stay ahead of market trends and identify areas where they can add value to both clients and candidates ahead of online models.

How can recruitment businesses stay up-to-date with candidates and clients and compete in the ever-growing gig economy? Staffing firms should:

  • Ensure they have the best technology – the gig workforce is driven by technology and needs to be able to interact with any staffing business at all times and on all devices. Staffing firms have to ensure that they adopt technology and processes that allow and assist real time communication for on demand work placements and compete with online models
  • Add value – recruiters need to differentiate themselves from online models by adding value through candidate management and relationship building. Utilise assets that online platforms don’t have such as candidate databases and local knowledge. Selecting workers with the right skills, work ethic, and personality to fit with a company’s culture and by engaging with the employer throughout the assignment are service elements that the majority of online platforms don’t and indeed can’t offer
  • Promote your point of difference – to clients – you are not just a computer programme you are an experienced, in touch industry expert who can place pre-screened candidates from all sectors. Ensure clients know your effective, robust screening policies that are in place and any help you can offer with the on boarding process that is often lacking for contingent workers
    As the gig economy grows so does the percentage of clients utilising vendor management systems to manage gig workers, ensure clients are aware of the services you can provide in this area
  • Promote your point of difference – to candidates – If you wish to retain and grow your share of contingent candidates, it’s up to you to demonstrate the value and benefits you offer in managing their career, such as relationships you have with employers and being a one-stop resource for jobs and employment advice. Further cement your value by keeping up with what gig workers want, such as an easy-to-use mobile interface for searching jobs, completing applications and tracking time
  • Gain expert help – to truly gain the advantage you need to work with partners whose assistance allows your business to focus on core elements such as client and candidate service and sales
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The gig economy has grown 72% since 2010 and is predicted to be 30% of the workforce by 2020, that’s £2bn according to figures from PwC.  The world of work is certainly changing and staffing firms and recruiters need to adapt what they are doing or risk getting left behind; however clients will always judge staffing firms on the quality of the candidates.