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Many businesses and organisations use temporary manpower to cover sickness, holidays, surge requirements or other permanent staff absences. Most complain that it’s expensive, unresponsive, doesn’t fully meet the need and is difficult to manage. It is true that it is often a challenge to find the calibre of manpower at short notice at a reasonable price, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

With requirements varying massively, from highly skilled to relatively low skilled manpower, to cover maternity, holiday, fixed-term projects and through to single shifts – one size definitely doesn’t fit all. That’s why businesses can build up a bewildering array of different staff agencies who supply different specialisms in different geographic regions with different charging regimes.

Most businesses will state that their staff are their most valuable asset, yet when it comes to temporary staff, this mantra is often not followed through. With companies spending £millions per year on temporary manpower, it’s surprising how relatively little thought is given to the management, process and delivery of this resource, particularly when compared to that of permanent staff.

So, when companies take the time to actually break the process of temporary manpower engagement and usage down, they realise that it’s actually costing them more than they thought in both direct and indirect costs, as well as repetitive mistakes.

With an unencumbered mind and clinical approach, companies can evaluate this themselves or engage someone that can, by following a few simple steps:

  • Evaluate why you have the requirement.
  • Understand what you currently actually do (not what you say you do) in identifying suppliers and engaging appropriate staff.
  • What process do you use for each supplier?
  • What are your current costs in both £’s and time and how are these broken down?
  • Once you have this information you can move on to simplifying this probably complicated current system.
  • Do you want to control all of this internally, do you have the skills, industry knowledge across all the specialisations, time to undertake all the compliance and checks, or do you want and agency specialist to manage this for you?
  • A Master Vendor or Hybrid Vendor solution may assist with reducing the number of agency suppliers that you deal with directly, whilst standardising the process and maintaining or improving the quality of output.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Single point of contact.
  • Streamline invoicing.
  • Structured management information, reporting and booking systems.
  • Competitive standard fees.
  • Performance based tiering of agencies to encourage service quality and assist with capacity.
  • Robust compliance checks.

Once you have all the required information and analysis you can then make an objective decision on whether to manage temporary manpower entirely yourself or outsource this to a specialist. If using a specialist, identifying the correct ones that will be best placed to assist is key as not all manpower agencies and providers are equal, particularly if you have a broad variety of temporary and fixed term manpower workers required.

You also need to consider whether you have the appropriate systems. If not, do you need to upgrade or install appropriate software, or utilise a specialist provider that is likely to already have systems in place to make the process as cost effective and timely as required? There are as always, direct and indirect costs associated with both options that need to be considered too.

With the current uncertainty that surrounds us in the areas of employment and business growth, how flexible do you need your future manpower requirements to be and is having all your own manpower the safest option?


Article by: Simon Gibson

As seen in Issue 9 of The Bottom Line