Small Businesses Take on More Freelancers

The number of businesses taking on freelance staff increased by more than two-thirds in the last 12 months, research by recruitment agency People Per Hour has found.

The People Per Hour survey of approximately 9,000 businesses carried out in July revealed a 68% year-on-year increase in the number of employers that hire freelance staff — of these 71% said flexibility and cost-savings were at the heart of their decision. A total of 80% of those surveyed were small firms.

The research also highlighted that while current economic uncertainty is dissuading employers from offering permanent contracts, 70% of businesses plan to continue using freelancers long-term.

IT and web design were the sectors most likely to employ freelance help, the study found. Marketing, accounting and legal services were also ranked highly.

Sarah Sharples, partner at fledgling financial firm FS Accountants, said that expertise which her company couldn’t afford on a full-time basis became accessible when employing short-term contractors.

“We use freelancers in a variety of roles, including the time-consuming tasks that would take us away from our core work. But we also use them for specialist areas where the individuals who have years of experience would simply be out of our target salary range.”

“Having full-time employees can feel like a burden when it’s difficult to see how your cashflow will go, but as our business grows month-on-month our need for freelance help increases. There will soon come a time when it is more benefecial for us to employ permanent staff.”

Freelance trade association PCG’s head of commercial development Iain McIlwee, estimated that one in 20 employees in the UK is employed on a freelance basis.

“Freelancers are often more results-driven, easier to acquire at short notice and can be used to bring in an outside perspective to a business.”

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