Freelance workers and contractors have always been features of the construction industry. Firms are unlikely to question their significance in terms of numbers - they are simply part of the landscape. However, what is not always appreciated is the fact that short-term workers and specialist workers are not simply an interchangeable alternative to permanent employees. They actually bring with them a host of benefits unique to their status. It is a smart way of addressing the challenges of hiring.
This is one of the most important metrics for any business. Boosting productivity is a constant challenge and by hiring freelance labour, it's possible to make significant improvements. If you plan your workflows carefully, you can avoid costly downtime by employing people only when they are needed. Although freelancers in construction typically earn more than full-time members of the workforce, according to the Centre for Research on Self-Employment (CRSE), the labour cost savings can be anywhere between 27% and 86% . Productivity per person per hour increases significantly and what may have seemed an expensive solution turns out to be highly cost-effective.
Supply and Demand
Agility is a valuable attribute in any business, never more than in today's uncertain economy where our emergence from the pandemic is colliding with economic problems we haven't seen for at least 15 years. Being able to match your supply of labour to the demands of your order book and the market is crucial to continued prosperity. It's not something you can do if you rely entirely on fixed labour costs and a static workforce. Bringing in freelance specialists as and when you need to means you can pursue growth when demand is high and avoid draining your resources in the lean times.
By making short-term hires of contractors rather than permanent recruits, a business is able to pay for output rather than input. In an industry such as construction where the long-term nature of projects can leave firms at the mercy of price fluctuations and shortages in the supply chain, the ability to accurately predict the labour costs of a particular project is invaluable. It also means there is far less need for management to spend time and resources on monitoring labour productivity.
Hiring temporary teams on a contract basis means you take on none of the responsibilities of an employer. You may be paying higher rates for specialist skills but balanced against this is the fact you face no costs relating to holidays, sick pay, national insurance, expenses or pension contributions. Even the payroll admin costs are reduced because you can hire on an invoice basis.
Construction requires many expert skills. They may only need to be deployed at certain stages of a project but it's tempting to keep permanent in-house teams at the ready. This is not a cost-effective strategy, and given the widespread availability of freelancers, it makes far greater sense to make temporary hires for specific tasks. Rather than trying to upskill your all-rounders with abilities they will need only occasionally, bringing in short-term recruits with particular skills means you can deliver projects more efficiently and to the highest standards.
Relieve Pressure on Your Workforce
Employers are increasingly conscious of the effects of workplace stress on their employees and one of the most commonly cited causes is the sheer weight of the workload. When they are already working productively to full capacity, neither they nor their company will benefit if they are given new responsibilities and pushed into working harder. Ultimately everybody loses. This is where contingent talent can make a huge difference. When projects demand more labour hours than can be accommodated by your permanent employees, bringing in contractors, freelancers and temps is a way to take the pressure off without sacrificing productivity.
Widen Your Talent Pool
The more agile your workforce becomes through hiring specialists on short-term contracts, the richer the pool of talent you have from which to recruit in the future. Temporary hires may be short term but they don't have to be one-offs. Before long, you will have assembled a kind of shadow workforce who benefit from their freelance status as much as you do. Next time you need specialist skills, you'll know where to look.
These are just some of the headline benefits of the smart approach to resourcing and once you adopt this policy, you'll discover many more.