As the negative impact of staff shortages is felt across a myriad of UK industry sectors, a new survey from freelancer website PeoplePerHour reveals the critical role employers believe freelancers will play, and the competition this is creating for top talent.
According to the research, 84% believe freelancers can make a positive difference to their business, with nearly half (45%) more focused on quality than cost when hiring. A fifth (20%) said they would pay whatever rate it takes to get the best person for the job. The research also found that London is the top city for businesses using freelancers, followed by Manchester and Birmingham.
Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder of PeoplePerHour, believes this highlights how attitudes to freelancers are shifting. He commented: “Where once they were considered a last-minute stopgap that garnered the bare minimum of investment, we’ve seen an increasing acceptance of the value freelancers bring. Due to a combination of changing perceptions on different forms of working and pandemic-driven resignations, we’re seeing more buyers focusing on the quality of the work they can get, rather than treating it as a way to cut costs.”
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Looking at the sectors where demand is highest, PeoplePerHour’s platform data suggests a freelancer boom in marketing and communications. Areas such as Growth Hacking (2050%), Influencer Marketing (1618%), Content Marketing (985%), and Instagram Marketing (1109%) have seen a huge rise in the number of projects posted on the platform in 2021 compared to 2020.
Another strong performer was marketing for weChat, the Chinese messaging, social, and payments app, which saw a 560% growth in projects listed last year as brands target international growth.
Retail businesses were most bullish about hiring freelancers, with 25% increasing their freelancer budget since COVID started, compared with 18% of all businesses overall. Retailers also expect freelancers to become more important, with 83% looking for temporary help in the future, compared with 80% overall.
“More sectors are being affected by staff shortages, as employees seek more flexible employment or strive for a greater work-life balance. Many of those leavers become freelancers, so while their departure does leave a gap, it also helps boost a talent pool that businesses can tap into quickly, without disrupting their day-to-day operations,” said Thrasyvoulou.
The survey results come as the company, which matches freelancers with businesses looking for fast access to experienced support, reveals that it has seen a 48% year-on-year rise in freelance registrations, and a 24% year-on-year increase in the number of businesses signed up to its platform.