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New global research sees changeable market conditions providing fresh opportunities for contractors and employers.

LONDON, 6 October 2008 – Contractors need to review their working styles as blue-chip companies re-evaluate their staffing levels, according to new research commissioned by Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS), the recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) specialist.

The Global Contingent Worker Poll, conducted by independent research company Loudhouse, on behalf of Alexander Mann Solutions, examines professionally skilled or senior level contract workers perceptions to employment in the coming year. Contractors working in the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and the US, were surveyed to gauge how the temporary worker market is coping with the current economic situation.

Only 11% of contingent workers see their contracts getting extended over the next 12 months, with just 12% expecting a rise in pay. 50% of respondents believe the number of positions available will reduce in 2009, with 41% expecting the competition for roles to increase as more jobseekers enter the market. Contractors are bracing themselves for an uncertain future, but changing workforce planning indicates opportunities for those willing to adapt. A more strategic look at the use of the contractor workforce in many blue-chip companies is seeing new opportunities open up, as businesses look to target skills gaps.

Matthew Rodger, Director at Alexander Mann Solutions says, “Contractors have enjoyed a favourable few years where they have been able to command a premium for their services. Times are now changing. Today, companies are managing their contingent workforce more tightly, for shorter spells, often on a reduced cost of ownership. Contractors are realising this and changing the way they operate by recognising the importance of good brands and changing the way they assess contracts.”

The poll found that the most significant factors when considering contracts are pay (76 per cent) and industry sector (75 per cent). The size of the company, although still important, was rated bottom with a mere 20 per cent. Interestingly, almost half of those surveyed also stated that the reputation of a potential employer’s brand to be important or very important.

Findings point towards two types of contractor workers - the ‘stability hunter’ and the ‘brand buddy’.

· Stability Hunter

The original contractor would primarily seek better pay and longer contracts as their main objectives, snubbing companies with a higher quality reputation who pay less and offer shorter contracts. This wasn’t previously an issue due to the positively buoyant marketplace, however the poll results indicate that these contracts are becoming few and far between.

· Brand Buddy

The new breed of contractors acknowledge the importance of having good brands and respected companies on their CV. These modern contractors use big brand employer reputations to leverage their next contract. With a lot of companies feeling the pinch and not wanting to take risks when hiring staff, permanent or contract, the use of familiar brands provides assurances of a contractors capabilities and experience.

This split in profiles represents something of a sea change with regard to how contract workers are adapting to economic conditions, with many now building their own brand as the competition for contracts increases.

Rodger continues, “The contractor marketplace is becoming more competitive, as the economic climate tightens. This is a positive thing for employers as the contractor talent pool is widening. Organisations can benefit by having a clear understanding of how contractors are used, whilst strategically reviewing their use to identify where skills are needed to drive business goals. Contingent workers enable companies to manage their resourcing needs both up and down. Contractors need to adapt to these changing work practices to meet new business demands.”

“For employers, this means greater flexibility in matching the right contractor to your resourcing needs. The employment landscape is constantly evolving. In recent months Alexander Mann Solutions has seen conditions beginning to balance out once again with more flexible, brand strong contractor talent available. This combined with a strategic review of contractor use means a more effective use of contingent workers going forward,” said Rodgers

Billy Hamilton-Stent from research agency Loudhouse comments, “Contractor employment is often an early indicator of wider employment trends. Respondents are evidently experiencing a tightening of available work in the market, leading to a greater number of professionals pursuing fewer contracts. The expectation is also that pay rates and rises will cool. However, the desire for some employers to introduce greater levels of flexibility into the workforce during economic uncertainty may favour professionals working on a contractors basis.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

Methodology

The Global Contingency Poll was conducted by Loudhouse, on behalf of Alexander Mann Solutions in June 2008. Results include 140 online interviews with professional skilled or senior level contract staffing across three continents, including the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and the US.

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) is working with an external partner to improve the way a company moves people in, around and out of an organisation. This may include internal mobility, career management, redeployment, contingent workforce and outplacement.

About Alexander Mann Solutions

Alexander Mann Solutions was started in 1996 by Rosaleen Blair, the Veuve Clicquot 2007 Business Woman of the Year, as a venture subsidiary of the Alexander Mann Group, a recruitment firm. AMS has grown rapidly and, after disposals, now represents the entire group. A December 2007 management buy-out was backed by Graphite Capital, and the company recently acquired Capital Consulting, a leading RPO player operating in Europe and Asia Pacific. AMS operates in 50 countries with approximately 1200 employees and expects to recruit over 50,000 staff on behalf of its clients in calendar 2008. HRO Today magazine recently named AMS as the Global Market Leader in the Baker’s Dozen, an annual listing of the top 13 RPO providers. AMS manages contractor, internal mobility, referral, graduate and talent programmes and its clients typically sign-up for multi-year contracts and outsource all of their recruitment. AMS professionals are typically embedded in client companies and work alongside the client teams, allowing them to focus on their core business. www.alexandermannsolutions.com

For further information, to arrange an interview with Alexander Mann Solutions and / or a contract worker please contact:

James Warnette / Joanna Timmermann
Octopus Communications for Alexander Mann Solutions
T: +44 (0) 8453 700 655
E: ams@octopuscomms.net

ENDS

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