A new study has highlighted a growing trend among employers in favour of hiring more contracting professionals and freelancers to create “blended talent pools” – a composite of permanent staff, freelancers and contractors which is set to become the workforce of the future.

The survey by online freelance marketplace PeoplePerHour (PPH) reviewed feedback from over one thousand SMEs. Results showed that employers saw the ability to match the right candidate to the right task as the biggest attraction of freelancing and flexible workers. Over half (57%) said they would employ more freelancing and contracting staff than permanent employees by 2020. Only 12% said they would hire more permanent staff by this time.

Shortly, in other words, UK businesses are likely to rely more heavily on flexible workers than on a permanent workforce.

Numerous reasons have contributed to this trend, the survey found, but principal amongst them, shared by 60% of respondents, was the capacity to match the right person to the right task. This enabled businesses to increase their productivity and efficiency to a degree that could not be replicated in the traditional model of permanent employment only.

59% of respondents cited the flexibility provided by freelancing and contracting professionals as their top attraction.

Addition reasons included:

  • Being able to tap talent on-demand (51%)
  • Reaching a broader workforce pool (50%)
  • More rapid access to talent (44%)
  • Superior value to full-time permanent staff (30%)
  • Improved efficiency (19%)
  • Struggling to match latest skill requirements without contractor contributions (19%)

Worryingly, nearly half of the respondents expressed concern about the dwindling availability of skills and talent in the UK.

Over a third saw accessing a flexible workforce as “very important” to the future growth of their businesses, while 17% saw it as “essential.” More than half said that accessing freelancing and contracting talent gave their company “a big competitive advantage.”

Noting that 30% of the UK workforce is currently freelancing in some capacity, PPH’s founder and CEO, Xenios Thrasyvoulou said that this wasn’t simply to do with the attractions of becoming one’s own boss. It was also to do with the mutually beneficial effects of a blended talent pool.

He added:

“While, of course, some positions benefit from the continuity that a permanent workforce brings, niche freelance experts can bring a freshness and vitality to a company, not just delivering the new perspective that 22 per cent of our respondents valued, but the latest skills and specialist knowledge. Business also benefits from the flexibility delivered by a blended talent pool, and more and more companies are realising this.”

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