Are Skill Gaps Losing Your Business Money?
Skill gaps cost SMEs on average £145,000 a year (The HR Director) due to increased workloads for existing staff, leading to a loss of business to competitors and stifled innovation. However, for many small businesses, particularly in a post-Covid economy, resources are often limited which makes full-time recruitment an unlikely possibility.
For this reason, more and more business owners are shifting their focus away from full-time hires to freelancers. According to The Life Hub, about six out of ten SME managers now work with more freelancers than staff.
But why is this and is it a good option for your business?
SIZE AND STRENGTH OF FREELANCE ECONOMY
The freelance economy is continually expanding in the UK, being home to over 2 million skilled professionals and estimated to contribute around £125 billion to the UK economy in 2021 (Mettle).
The impact of Covid-19 has only accelerated this further, due to changes in employment and lifestyles which is encouraging people to be creative and find new avenues of income. This latest uncertainty in the employment market has catapulted freelancing’s popularity with a majority of individuals now transitioning their previous ‘side hustle ‘ to their main occupation.
FREELANCERS CAN QUICKLY HELP SME BUSINESSES SCALE.
“We love working with freelancers who have an energy and enthusiasm for their work, so we always look for that first. Many have constructively challenged our own ways of thinking and doing things – we love learning from them and value that outside perspective massively.”
– Rebecca Middleton, Managing Director of PR firm Middleton Davies.
When hiring a freelancer, you are sourcing the help of an experienced individual who can provide insights the needed injection of expertise to address a particular need or issue. They may also further assist your workforce by training your staff on certain skills or techniques which can enable the business to achieve high-quality results at an accelerated rate.
In the time-precious environment of SME’s, freelancers can offer your business on demand immediate results, increasing overall business efficiency whilst improving performance. Having access to a large scope of talented individuals who can immediately impact a specific area of your business facilitates further growth and allows you to maintain a competitive edge by delivering continually high-impact results for clients. Also, outsourcing tasks and projects can free up your time and the time of full-time staff members to work on other avenues of business and evaluate goals
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HIRING A FREELANCER, COMPARED TO FULL-TIME EMPLOYEES?
Hiring a freelancer can offer your business flexible access to high-standard talent. Freelancers are particularly skilled and enthusiastic within their industry, meaning they can offer your business a fresh perspective.
When hiring a freelancer, it can be found that your business may incur fewer expenses compared with a full-time employee. Recruiterbox claims that businesses can expect to save 20-30% annually when hiring a freelancer due to not having to pay for additional costs such as benefits, health insurance and retirement fees on top of the savings of not paying a full annual salary.
Businesses can also benefit from reduced costs on office supplies and space. Freelancers tend to work efficiently within their own space at home and can work remotely, cutting down on the office space needed. Furthermore, freelancers tend to utilise their own resources, meaning the business will not incur any additional costs on office supplies.
“We regularly hire freelancers to cover a range of tasks… we use them to expand our workforce based on what our clients need at that time. This works for us as we don’t have to worry about having a large office with massive overheads – we have a core team of five and can pull in trusted reinforcements as and when we need them. That allows us to be incredibly flexible.”
– Carla Pia, Senior Account Manager at London-based design agency Evolve.
Finally and possibly the greatest benefit of working with freelancers is recruitment process and rapid turnaround time. Hiring a full-time employee can be a lengthy process. However, with a freelancer, you can get the ball rolling in a more efficient manner with less paperwork and minimal training. Hiring a full-time employee could take many weeks or months, whereas a freelancer could become hired within a matter of hours or days.
Businesses are having to adapt to a post-Covid world as remote working has created a shift in recruitment processes. The financial constraints have left many businesses, particularly SME’s, short staffed and unable to recruit so are left relying on employees to pick up additional hours. Therefore, many businesses are beginning to see the value and importance of utilising freelancers to maintain talent at an affordable rate, without any full time commitments.
Moving forward, hiring freelancers is becoming more of a commodity that businesses will seek to utilise as a source of recruitment. At this uncertain time, it is important to have on-demand creative business talent to drive SMEs forward and out of the pandemic. Businesses should be exploring every avenue of growth and innovation that comes with hiring a freelancer.