A key element of Lorien’s managed programmes is our role in triaging ‘work’ for our clients. The role of an MSP / RPO / Total Talent Provider has evolved from one where we simply manage roles that a client specifies, to a more consultative approach where we break down work and new roles prior to approval in order to determine the best possible vehicle for that requirement, whether that is Permanent, Fixed-Term Contract, Contract, Statement of Work (SoW) or Employed Consultant.
The Employed Consultant Model (ECM) is far from a new idea, in fact it has been one of the more traditional resource pathways since the 1980’s, where it was traditionally used within the banking and financial services industries before becoming more common in other sectors.
In the most typical form, an Employed Consultant (EC) is a skilled individual who is permanently employed by a managed serviced organisation, provided to another party / organisation for a specific task or project for a defined period that is charged for on a set daily rate basis. All HR and contractual management rests with the permanent employer of the resource in addition to legislative requirements. Employed Consultants are best used in blended teams, for projects that are at least nine months long, where additional security of resource is required in addition to flexibility.
For a while Employed Consultant use was low due to a combination of factors including market conditions, flexibility, and cost. However, it is one of my predictions for 2021 that we will now see the Employed Consultant Model starting to increase once again in popularity. Here are some why:
Organisations required to do more with less
There is growing pressure within organisations to have higher productivity with lower levels of staff - essentially higher employee capability with lower employee cost. We are also seeing increasing demand from our clients for new skillsets to drive change and transformation, a drive for skills creation for existing employees and a desire to ensure the door remains open for external skills.
Increased permanent appetite from contractors
For the first time in a decade, increasingly large amounts of contractors would consider permanent vacancies. The impact of the pandemic and IR35 legislation cannot be ignored as key drivers for this change in appetite, with some contractors looking for the increased employment security that comes with a permanent employer and less organisations open to working with contractors outside of IR35. There are significant benefits for individuals working as employed consultants, including:
- Typical employment benefits such as annual leave, contributory pension, life insurance, maternity / paternity pay.
- Continuity of employment – new projects are brought to workers under the umbrella of one employer rather than gaps between projects.
- Opportunity to work on multiple projects and accelerate personal development
- Access to training and development
- Pastoral care
In our research ‘What Tech Candidates Want’, released in 2020, we uncovered that training and development was one of the key reasons that candidates (both permanent and contract) would leave their existing employer and choose their next employer. Most ECM programmes such as Lorien’s also provide significant levels of worker upskilling as part of the programme. For example, Lorien work with external training experts such as Cambridge Spark to take our Employed Consultants on a journey towards gaining additional expertise in Python, Machine Learning and Data Science.
Maturity in organisational demand
Organisations are now much more flexible in how they acquire skills. Whether it is via gig workers, contingent workers, or new long-term permanent hires, Employed Consultants offer companies ‘the best of both worlds’ with both security and flexibility.
Blended working teams providing more value to projects
EC’s can be particularly valuable when deployed on projects for technology managed service providers. In this context, blended teams of permanent employees, employed consultants and contractors can provide higher quality of delivery over the longer term for end customers, particularly where the project is tied to a deliverables-focussed Statement of Work (SoW). To break a common misconception, Employed Consultants aren’t always more cost effective than traditional contract workers, depending on the skillset. Businesses that understand the pros and cons of different workforce models can build blended working teams that optimise output while maximising cost savings.
Without muddying the waters too much, the rise in demand for SoW models from organisations ties in really nicely with the Employed Consultant model. The ability to engage Employed Consultants with the additional inherent security, but on a model that rewards the work delivered, is one that appeals to most organisations. Look out for my next blog on Statement of Work for more insight!
I hope that you found this article interesting, as always however, I’d be keen to hear what everyone else thinks; do you think the Employed Consultant Model is set for a comeback in 2021? Would be great if we could engage and spark a discussion in the comments.
Additionally, would you be keen to find out more around whether ECM could be appropriate for or benefit your business? If so, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be delighted to discuss the pros, cons and appropriateness for you.
Lorien is a specialist provider of tech, digital and change recruitment solutions, alongside our portfolio of multi-discipline solutions, and we're part of the global Impellam Group, the second largest staffing company in the UK and the sixth largest MSP worldwide. Find out more about what we do here.