SMEs 'using four freelancers for every one employee'

More than two-thirds of small and medium-sized enterprises are now filling skills gaps in their ranks by harnessing freelance talent, a study shows.

In a 1,000-strong survey of SMEs, 67% said they use freelancers on top of their core payroll, equating to an average of 41hours of freelance work a month, found

In personnel terms, it means that about six out of ten SME managers now work with more freelancers than staff, with teams typically consisting of 12 freelancers and just 3 employees.

With this new 4:1 ratio of freelancers-to-employees, the enterprise “can access upwards of 50 different skills”, PeoplePerHour estimated, saying no more than 10 skills come from staff.

It is not the only about-turn in staffing trends that the website uncovered. In fact, rather than recruit in their immediate region, for a fifth of the SMEs their team is made up of workers from at least three different continents.

“Ten years ago the majority of businesses cited local staff as their main source of employees, now the majority cite freelancers as their main source of hiring,” said PeoplePerHour founder Xenios Thrasyvoulou.

“This turnaround has been rapid and the change has taken some by surprise – perhaps this accounts for the recent fracas around the chancellor’s threatened manifesto breach.”

Elaborating, Mr Thrasyvoulou said it was “little wonder” that Mr Hammond had initially sought to monetise freelancers for the exchequer, in light of their presence in the SME workforce growing.


23rd March 2017

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