How recruitment businesses can overcome contingent worker shortages

The shortage of global skills is no secret for the recruitment sector. While there are some industries such as IT, health & social care, engineering, teaching and more that are being hit harder than others with a lack of workers, the impact is being felt by most staffing firms involved in temporary and contingent workforce solutions.

In one of my recent RecOps Podcast interviews, I spoke to Kirsty Walpole, Managing Director Employment Services for Hales Group about this very topic to see what action they’ve been taking to overcome this issue.

It was interesting to hear Kirsty’s views on how they have been adapting their workforce management in light of the skills shortages, particularly the focus on moving back into more traditional engagement tactics that focus on the personalization of processes and maintaining good relationships.

I was particularly pleased to hear that Hales Group has also seen the shift in mindset from employers that there isn’t an endless supply of temporary workers and their experience does need to be improved if they are to be continuously or repeatedly engaged with.

So how are firms like Hales Group addressing contingent worker shortages?

Let’s break it down into the three key stages.


When there’s fewer candidates available, finding new avenues to attract temp workers is key. Technology innovation is aiding this process. As Kirsty revealed, the rise of instant messaging is reshaping how – and when – recruiters engage with candidates.

The use of video communication is clearly being utilized too in order to improve engagement and responses from candidates. This more interactive – and often more personal – element is becoming a prominent part of recruitment, from video job specs to recorded CVs.

But what perhaps stood out to me more during the conversation with Kirsty was this issue of the CRM still being underutilized. When skills shortages are rife, forgetting about the hugely valuable database of contacts you already have just makes no sense. But it is all too easy to go straight to the job boards to push out an opportunity. There needs to be a real shift in processes and mindsets as skills shortages become more of an issue.


The onboarding process can often be a forgotten engagement tool, but when contingent skills are in short supply, this step needs as much thought and investment as the initial attraction process. Given the efforts that will have gone into gaining the initial engagement from an individual, you don’t want to lose them at this stage due to inefficiencies that can, quite frankly, be easily avoided.

Personalization is a key element of this stage and being able to show that your agency values temporary workers as an employee not just a number will prevent staff from dropping out of the process before they’ve had an opportunity to work with you.

However, time is money, so speed is of the essence too. Tech developments have made it easier to – as Kirsty put it – “onboard themselves” and I think this is aiding attraction and retention of temporary workers in this tough climate.

Automation can really reduce the administration time involved in the booking process and while the human interaction is needed to maintain the relationships that matter so much, the benefits of tech can’t be overlooked.


Of course, once you have a strong bank of contingent workers on your books, retaining them is key, particularly as competition for their skills grows. This is where the quality of the experience that recruiters provide is absolutely pivotal.

Give them the right attention, added value and build the right relationships with them, and they’ll not only be willing to work on multiple placements for your agency, but they’ll also be more likely to recommend your firm to the other temp workers in their network.

Kirsty had some really interesting insights into how Hales Group retains its contingent workers, from recognition and reward schemes to wellbeing support and access to Career MOT services for those looking for new temp opportunities.

You’ll have to listen to the full podcast to hear everything Hales Group is doing to retain workers, but the fact that 68% of their new starters come from referrals – when they have no referral reward scheme in place – does show what they are doing works.

Overcoming contingent worker shortages is going to require both a time investment and the right management systems, but with staff in increasingly short supply, action is needed sooner rather than later.

You can listen to the full podcast with Kirsty here. If you’re interested in taking part in the podcast, let us know on!

James Lawton Enterprise Account Executive
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