Want to futureproof your agency? Switch to temp.

Almost a year into the pandemic, and the effect on recruitment has been profound. But as in many industries, those that have adapted are finding success. In recruitment, that’s meant switching the focus to temporary – so should you do the same?

Permanent or temporary? That’s long been a familiar question in recruitment, and for years many agencies were either one or the other. But one of the legacies of COVID-19 has been a sharp rise in demand for temporary staff – in fact, according to research from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG, December’s rise was the fastest since October 2018, and saw a bigger increase in vacancies for temporary workers than permanent jobs. It also saw the first overall rise in reported job vacancies since February 2020.

But why are employers switching so much to temporary? And does it mean it’s time for you to do the same? Let’s take a closer look at the facts.

The advantages for employers

With economic uncertainty still very much in evidence after 12 months of restrictions, tiers and lockdowns (not to mention Brexit!), businesses have naturally gravitated to the most flexible option available – temporary staff.

For employers, it makes a great deal of sense: it saves money, as they don’t need the same training as permanent staff, and it gives them access to a pool of talent with different strengths; temporary staff can also be more efficient, as they’re not tied down to everyday duties, being usually recruited for a specific project and focussing solely on that.

The recruitment process itself is often quicker and more flexible too, as temporary staff will have been generally tried and tested by other companies or agencies and are known to be reliable. Another advantage for employers is being able to ‘try before they buy’ – a temporary role is a great way to test a candidate’s skills before committing to them on a more long term basis.

The advantages for recruiters

It’s long been the case that recruitment agencies with a strong temp/contracting arm have an advantage – as we’ve seen for ourselves at Back Office over many years.

Even before 2020, it was estimated that between 80 and 90% of UK recruitment industry revenue came from temporary workers and contractors and while permanent fees may be valuable, income from temp workers provides an ongoing revenue stream with fewer peaks and troughs – invaluable in uncertain times.

That can help to build a more profitable and sustainable business model for your agency, and thus help to future-proof your business; and if you choose to have a mix of temp and permanent, it means the one-off perm fees will make a bigger difference to your bottom line.

So as a recruiter, is now the right time to switch? Only you can decide that. But if you do decide to, Back Office can help you easily sort out the necessary changes in admin and payroll. Simply contact the team on 01260 280 290 or email us

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