Employee engagement is not a new topic – we’ve long known how important it is, and how getting employees to buy into your culture and values is a fast track to making them more productive.

Back in 2013, global consultancy firm Gallup did a study that showed that “businesses with a critical mass of engaged employees outperformed their competitors”.

But now organisations are facing new demands to be agile and flexible. The former would imply a greater need for permanent hires; the latter requires contingents. Satisfying both of these demands at once, so that organisations can move past today’s challenges towards a stronger future, is essential to long-term success.

On 8 July 2020, Capita held a webinar on resourcing in the current climate, which revealed that flexibility is a top issue for recruitment today. We expected cost to be our attendees’ predominant concern but the demand for flexibility in resourcing was equally important; both were selected as a top challenge by 55%


Over-emphasising any strategy over another means taking an undesirable risk. Employees, no matter how flexibly or cost-effectively sourced, need to be engaged with your organisation’s mission. This is a real challenge for contingent workers, who employers have increasingly turned to during highly uncertain times.

Contractors might legitimately seem like an ideal stopgap, giving you access to the essential skills you need to keep your organisation running in the short term. With high levels of flexibility, there’s no long-term commitment. But it’s impossible to expect them to be really attuned to or invested in your long-term goals, or even in the culture you may have spent years developing. They may also incur longer-term recruitment costs, as you must constantly rehire. If you’re driving down costs, too, there’s a big risk of compromising the quality of your workforce.

On the other hand, permanent staff are a big investment, and their long-term engagement and commitment may not be worth the high short-term cost.

There’s no doubt that overinvesting in the wrong workforce strategy now has the potential to put organisations’ futures in peril. But not investing at all – when you need your employees to fully invest in their futures with you, and to deliver their best possible work – can also put you on a slippery slope to failure. Short-term gap-filling could, in the long run, leave you with a fractured and disconnected workforce, one that isn’t aligned to your culture.

Using an employed resource model can be a powerful way of bridging this gap. Access to a pool of consultants, maintained as permanent staff by a provider but deployed to you on a contingent basis, offers you a quick and easy route to the talent you require. The potential for people to be deployed to your organisation over long periods, without the risk of them slipping away to work for your competitors, builds your relationship with them. And since their salaries are paid by the provider, you make a meaningful cost saving compared to regular day rates.

Specifically building in engagement to a highly flexible and agile service offers the best of both worlds. It starts with attracting diverse individuals, who are highly committed to the employment model. What’s more, the opportunity to work with a consultant consistently for two years, and be able to offer them a permanent position at the end if they’re the right fit, tailors development to your business.

Right now, consultants’ welfare needs to be a top priority that responds to global changes. This is vitally important when we’re relying so heavily on virtual working and maintaining distancing. HR and employee wellbeing managers can use the programme to connect with candidates as soon as they’ve had a job offer, building a relationship between them and their line manager. If your needs change, the model allows you to pause deployment at the earliest opportunity, without affecting the employee.

Meeting challenging resourcing needs can feel like a zero-sum game, constantly sacrificing one need to meet another. Addressing cost, flexibility and engagement, in this highly unstable economic and talent environment, might feel like an especially impossible ask. But with the right staffing model, it absolutely doesn’t need to be. An employed resource model is an ideal way to effectively meet your immediate skills requirements and build a highly engaged future workforce.

Thinking about your organisation?