The rise of the gig economy and sourcing essential technology talent

The rise of the gig economy and sourcing essential technology talent
Financial services organisations are going through a period of change unlike any other in their history. Whether it’s the pressing consumer drive for the implementation of digital services, like banking apps and biometric security, the growth of specialist fintech businesses like Monzo and Atom Bank, who are more agile in dealing with new customer demands, or the continuously evolving threat of cyber-attacks that regularly dominate international headlines; financial services organisations need to guarantee that they can attract and retain the best IT talent in order to respond to the changing market conditions.

But, with the introduction of more flexible working practices, much of this talent is looking for roles that allow them to operate in a way that works for them. The limited pool of talent has realised that they can benefit from the supply/demand imbalance and as a result, some have started to opt for higher paying contractor roles over permanent positions. So, what are these new flexible working practices? Will they impact the workforce for the long term, and how can financial services business respond to maintain access to crucial technology talent when they need it?

The rise of the gig economy

The gig economy – a fast growing pool of contractors and freelancers – has allowed technology professionals to work flexibly, instead of committing to traditional long term contracts. Even permanent employees are evolving in their approach to tenure – with it becoming increasingly common for a young professional to move employer every two years. Recent research from ManpowerGroup highlighted that two-thirds of millennials think that the “right” length of time to stay in a role before being promoted or moving to another organisation is less than two years, with a quarter saying that they think it should be 12 months – corroborating their desire for new challenges and opportunities.

Whilst previous generations may have enjoyed a career for life and benefited from a generous retirement package, today’s IT talent is likely to work for a number of different firms over the course of their career (particularly as the retirement age continues to increase). As this new way of working becomes more prevalent, many financial services organisations are looking to contractors to help solve their continuing technology needs and plug the skills gap.

Contractor numbers set to decrease?

Despite this changing mind-set, recent amends in legislation may impact on the number of professionals looking for contractor roles. From 6 April 2017, IR35 legislation was tightened up by the HMRC in a move to cut down on tax avoidance in the contractor market. Whilst this could be an opportunity to retain former contractors on a permanent basis, businesses will do well to remember that they are likely to look to maintain the flexibility they previously enjoyed, and they will need to respond to this if they hope to attract and retain top talent.

What the future workforce landscape will look like is difficult to predict given the changes that we’ve seen in recent years. However, what we do know is that this change is likely to continue to develop at an increasing rate. Organisations must develop their agility to ensure that they can adapt to this if they are going to continue to perform going forwards and a balanced workforce that blends contractor and permanent employees will help them to succeed in this volatile landscape.

What companies need to do

In the fight to attract the top IT talent, financial services companies must work to adapt to the changing workforce market and the advance of the gig economy. Some of this requires knowledge of what contractors and permanent workers are looking for, but it also comes down to long-term planning.

In these disruptive times, freelance support and specialist skills can often help financial organisations to deliver successful projects to meet changing consumer demands at short notice. However, it’s important not to neglect the core members of your team. By partnering with a workforce provider, financial service organisations can navigate and plan for the resource they need going forwards.