The temporary staff recruitment model is broken – time to fix it!

The public sector relies heavily on temps, yet finding and hiring the right staff can be a major challenge, and more than a little frustrating. But don’t worry, help is here in the form of a temporary recruitment technology revolution, says TempRocket’s Andrew Johnston
Although the growth of job sites has taken recruitment online, the industry has hardly been transformed by the digital revolution. Sites like TotalJobs, Monster – and even LinkedIn to some extent – have added to the market rather than changing it. As a recruiter, you still pay to access potential candidates, and even if it is less than you’d be charged by an agency, you are less certain of being successful. No one’s come in and really shaken things up in favour of the hirers.
So where are the disruptors like those that have been throwing other sectors into chaos, like travel, transport, property and retail?
The temporary side of the recruitment market is particularly inefficient. Temps are the life-blood of the public sector, especially in education and healthcare. Yet the current temp process is frustrating for both hirers and contractors.
If you need temporary staff, your requirement is usually pretty urgent. Either you’ve just lost an employee in an important position who needs to be replaced as quickly as possible, or you’re responding to a spike in demand. Either way, time is of the essence. Essentially, you need a top class temporary replacement – and fast – or your organisation suffers. Likewise, contractors and freelancers can’t afford to be out of work for long, plus they need to plan and control their schedule, which can be tough to balance against their work demands.
Currently, the best solution for both parties is a temp agency, but there are lots in the marketplace, so which do you choose? Often both hirers and contractors take time and effort registering with several, then try to keep tabs on them all. Beyond the time this takes, which delays the whole process, hirers are also charged a significant amount for the service. In particular the public sector tends to get stung financially, with schools and hospitals frequently having to pay a premium – which
is ultimately passed on to the taxpayer.
Under these circumstances, agencies hold all the cards – and quite rightly. But they too would gain from a more joined up process, where they get a broader view of the whole UK – or even global – market in one place, from hirers to candidates. This would potentially enable them to reduce their overheads, while also allow them to promote their services to a bigger audience. And it goes without saying that contractors would also benefit. They’d be able to find and book work across a wide range of sectors within seconds, meaning they’d gain greater control of their schedule without complications.
Hirers ultimately pay the market rate for temporary staff, but sometimes the amounts they are charged might suggest that there is a temp shortage. The reality is, however, that the UK is booming with contract workers, with 46% of HR professionals expecting at least one in five of their workforce to be contract or temporary workers by 2022 [PwC]. So the problem is not one of supply and demand, but rather the way the industry works – or doesn’t de- pending on your perspective.
Essentially, hirers need more choice both in terms of direct access to temporary candidates and with respect to agencies. What’s more, this needs to be delivered quickly, with the necessary details at hirers’ fingertips to ensure they can make the best possible appointment. If they feel that an agency is charging too much for a candidate, they should be able to challenge the cost, and another agency should be able to come in with a keener offer. This would be proper market forces at work.
A solution delivering all these benefits would require digital technology, and the good news is that an online platform is now available that connects contractors, agencies and hirers 24/7 – and no doubt there will be others hitting the market soon. These disruptors aim to streamline the temporary recruitment process for the benefit of all parties and transform the sector in a way that has yet to occur in the permanent side of the industry.
As a public sector organisation, you’ll be able to recruit those essential temporary workers for more quickly and cost-efficiently whenever you need them, keeping your service levels up and your costs to a minimum.
Andrew Johnston is founder of online temporary recruitment platform TempRocket.