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The changing workforce dynamic

8th November, 2021

A long overdue shift towards individuals focusing on their wellbeing in their career began a few years ago, and has accelerated rapidly over the last 18 months.

With Covid-19 forcing everyone to work from home, productivity has won over presenteeism, and people are realising there are other options beyond the traditional notion of working as employees. A desire to take back control of their lives, their wellbeing and the time and place in which they work, has led people to explore the option of independent working or contracting.

For example, an interesting article in the Financial Times last week discussed how more and more doctors are eschewing the traditional route of working towards making Partner in a GP surgery in favour of working as a locum (a contractor who stands in temporarily for someone else) in various practices.

But this isn’t just related to the medical industry. Corporates have been using contractors for years to help them fill a need, and this is now transcending boundaries and growing popularity with both a younger and older demographic.

From IT services to media and banking, and marine & offshore to sustainable energy, both individuals and business are embracing this approach and feeling a degree of trepidation in equal measure. Only last week we spoke to a group of veterinary professionals around the off payroll working rules and what it means for them.


For individuals, contracting allows greater control over working life. As you can imagine the primary reasons for this were lifestyle based; they have more leisure time; they can pick and choose the hours that suit them; there is less stress.

Roles can be targeted that the individual enjoys, plays to their strengths, and maintains a healthy work life balance.

And at times, contracts fulfil a need to earn an income which comes with the advantage of knowing you haven’t made a long term commitment, allowing you be open and honest about your choice and operate with integrity to fulfil a mutually agreed outcome.

Take the doctors in the Financial Times article. The benefits associated with working locum also affected the doctor’s motivation at work. The ability to pick and choose their shift pattern allowed the doctors to avoid seeing patients in back-to-back 10-minute appointments day in day out – a normal day as a surgery GP.

Instead, once in control, they could reduce patient pressures, and focus on being the caring and attentive doctors they intended to be when they started medicine. For many, working locum has also expanded their skills and developed specialist expertise in a way that isn’t possible residing at the same doctor’s surgery.

But this isn’t just related to the medical industry. Corporates have been using contractors for years to help them fill a need, and this is now transcending boundaries and growing popularity with both a younger and older demographic.


The focus of workers wellbeing has predictably focused on the workers themselves. However, who’s to say that working in a non-traditional way does not also benefit businesses?

Using the example above. The specialisms, new skills and availability outside traditional hours has been of huge benefit to the surgeries that they provide services for, and in the end to the end user of the services, in this case the patient.

It is understandable that many businesses may be put off hiring contractors due to the implications and complexities of IR35 but that shouldn’t mean they cease to consider them at all. Engaging contractors is not to be feared. Instead, it’s an opportunity to be embraced as beneficial by businesses.

Contractors are talented, agile workers that can support the needs of a business at a specific point in time – usually when the business needs it most.

As contractors are hired to do a specific role, they know what they are there to do and have a defined period to undertake the task at hand. Their experience in different businesses allows transfer of knowledge that the traditional employed workforce may not benefit from.

In refocused world, driven by COVID-19 and Brexit, it is understandable that more people are putting their wellbeing first and considering contracting roles to make a living. Both flexibility and the ability to take control of their own lives are high valued as individuals and their families consider the future.

The businesses who embrace this change and understand that contractors offer an agile, focussed workforce will be those who succeed in rebalancing workforce engagement, responding to changes in customer behaviour customer in an agile, real-time manner and perhaps most importantly, attracting the talent required to help them do that, just at the right time.

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