Getting the most from temporary staff in a skills short market

Dan Jarrold Headshot by Dan Jarrold / 27th September 2021

There are short and long term issues effecting the availability of labour for construction projects right across the UK.  For most of us there isn’t much we can do about the macro-economic trends, but based on our recent experience of the market there are some practical things we can work on as hirer and recruiter to combat shortages.  Whilst there is so much choice for temporary workers we need to work together to help mitigate some of the impacts we otherwise see.

These top tips are behaviours of our clients who are faring better in the current market.

  1. Keep up with wages: there has been definite inflation in wages for skilled and unskilled workers, a direct result of demand exceeding supply.  Although this was quite a steep rise initially it has now levelled out, clients securing the most capable temps are staying at the top of the range.  If you have older rate cards or a pre-set notion over what a certain trade will cost it’s worth introducing some flexibility and checking with your agency if you are in the right ball park, a good supplier will be able to give you quick and clear feedback.
  2. Take temps on early: There are going to be times when a good worker becomes free before you actually need them, when availability is as tight as it is, it’s worth trying to see if you can get them started early, or find additional activities to keep them occupied before their main task actually begins.  Having someone secured a bit early might appear to cost more, but with the alternatives of potentially not securing the right person exactly when you need them there is a clear downside avoided.
  3. Hang onto workers: Similar to Tip #2 if you can organise workloads or share the services of a temporary staff member with other colleagues or sites during downtime, rather than standing down and intending to rehire shortly to a similar role, you could prevent further disruption and strengthen a connection with a motivated and contributing temporary worker.
  4. Treat temps with respect: the pay rate and longevity of an assignment can’t be relied on alone to keep a temporary worker happy and in position.  When both of these can be attained from other assignments, and believe us each of your temporary workers will be fielding multiple offers, the atmosphere and culture they are working in becomes even more important.
  5. Balance your suppliers: much as every agency you work with would love to capture all your requirements, and in some circumstances they will be able to, for larger clients or those with very spread out workloads this isn’t practical at the moment.  Our larger clients are running two or three quality agencies, with good communications throughout, to get the best coverage possible.  If your supplier can’t cover something an early warning to ask another is often very welcome.