17th April 2019

Can recruiters put a positive spin on Brexit struggles?


For all the publicity that Britain’s exit from the EU is receiving, so much is still up in the air. Continued negotiation struggles are already having a significant impact on the business community, particularly when it comes to hiring new employees. But can recruiters find triumph in the face of adversity?
The impact of Brexit is only just beginning – we will still be dealing with its repercussions in years to come – but this doesn’t give us an excuse to accept doom and gloom. There could be interesting new business opportunities for recruitment agencies to explore in the post-referendum world, if they are prepared to think out of the box…

Cautious to commit

The bottom line for the recruitment sector is that Brexit negotiations have not been kind to workload. A report published by KPMG recently revealed that economic and political uncertainties have led to a rapid decline in permanent hires since the EU referendum. 2019 has been particularly difficult, with recruitment rates dipping at their quickest rate since Brexit was declared in the first few months of this year.
Clearly, companies are nervous about committing to full-time members of staff in the current climate, and this is less than ideal for recruiters. However, it does present an opportunity to take a different approach – promoting temporary and fixed term contract workers as an alternative solution, to ensure that stalling negotiations don’t impact the productivity of UK firms any more than necessary.

Innovating in times of difficulty

While businesses may be used to employing permanent staff by default, there are many benefits to exploring short-term recruitment options – not least the reduced financial and emotional commitment.
With contract staff, companies can operate much more responsively when it comes to determining what resources they require; finding the right skills for the current project or challenge, rather than trying to find someone who can still deliver relevant value in a few years’ time. These needs can be continually reassessed as each contract ends, with the brief being continually fine-tuned to optimise productivity.
Looking at fixed term and temporary contract workers is a more affordable, lower risk way to ensure new ideas and skills are being brought into businesses, without committing to long-term expenditure. And it’s up to recruiters to help companies realise this.

Bringing the best performance

It’s not just businesses being affected by the current climate, either. Brexit has taken its toll on the confidence of contract workers, as fewer opportunities are available on the whole. The result of this is a pool of talented individuals available that will grasp new contracts with both hands, eager to show how they can add value.
This is a prime opportunity for companies that are looking to get the edge on their competitors in times of uncertainty. Any temporary or fixed term contract workers that they bring on board will be grateful to be in employment, keen to show their worth, and likely to complete all tasks to an extremely high standard in the hopes of having their tenure renewed or extended.
Injecting fresh energy into an organisation can transpire permanent employees too, who are enthused by new skills and ideas flowing through the business. For the cost of a couple of short-term contracts, key projects move forward and the whole team feels motivated and invigorated.

Showing the value

In a tough market, every business needs to be operating at the top of their game; firms simply cannot afford to stand still. Cutting back on recruitment drives may save on cost in the short-term, but there is a significant price to be paid for slipping behind more innovative competitors.
Temporary and fixed term contract workers can be a hard sell to companies that have never used them before, or who have had bad experiences in the past. But that doesn’t mean recruiters should shy away from promoting the benefits – it may just take time and persuasion.
The challenge for recruitment agencies is to find the time and resources to focus on these opportunities, and devote sufficient time to understanding how they can meet clients’ needs when permanent hires are on decline. This means spending less time on back office tasks and more on business development – but not all recruitment agencies have the tools to enable this.
ETZ is working with recruitment agencies of all sizes to cut the operational burden to their business, so they can concentrate on the tasks that add the greatest value. The inevitable belt-tightening that lies ahead as we negotiate a post-Brexit world will make this kind of technology investment more important than ever to the recruitment sector, as businesses will require more time and energy to develop the creative thinking – and persistence – to develop new revenue generating opportunities.
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