Getting industry players on-side

2 Apr

Last Thursday I put myself front of house at the APSCo (formally ATSCo) HR Conference entitled “Managing a Flexible Workforce”. Held at Centre Point, home of the CBI, this was one of an increasing number of such opportunities we are planning for the future, on the basis that the more we educate, the more other parties will learn about the freelance way of life and work.

After all, one of our main roles is encouraging clients and agencies to work positively with freelance and contract workers and to understand the ‘issues’, of which there are many. This conference allowed me to present ‘The Contractors’ perspective’ to an audience of 80 HR professionals, which included many leading agency and corporate names.

I spoke for about 45 minutes, covering:

  • how the freelance model benefits clients
  • when to engage freelance help
  • clear assignment management
  • common issues that freelancers and contractors encounter with clients and agencies
  • marketplace problems
  • how to create a positive two-way relationship

I was also able to reveal some sneak preview results of our latest on-line survey research findings, which clearly touched a nerve and prompted a lot of people to ask me for more information after the talk. For example, despite being unsure about their entitlements, 24% of respondents stated that they would wish to claim Job Seekers Allowance when out of contract and 22% would want to claim employment rights if found to be IR35 caught. Interestingly, those finding life to be less stressful as a freelancer [as opposed to an employee] are conveniently balanced by those finding it to be more stressful. Also, only 76% of respondents were currently in contract, down from 88% last year. These findings will be published in full shortly.

The presentation was well received. Ann Swain, who hosted the event, said that it highlighted the character and flavouring of the freelance perspective, the thoughts and troubles shared by many freelancers and contractors, and how important it was to be reminded of them.

At lunch I had a number of chats with fellow speakers and delegates and as a result have been invited to visit a leading client in the insurance business for further discussions about their approach to engaging contractors. Excellent, just what we want!

Of course, educating the ‘marketplace’ in the widest sense of the word is a major task but we are happy to work with other parties to achieve a result where necessary. This kind of event really helps to get those ‘best practice’ messages out there. Ultimately we want to promote win-win situations between freelance contractors, their agencies and clients. This met with strong support from those gathered at the conference.


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