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Earlier this year it was announced that the UK economy had slipped into recession in the final quarter of 2023. While the rate of inflation has recently slowed, it has nonetheless had a negative impact on businesses in the last few years, raising costs and leaving potential consumers with less to spend. The UK has been experiencing a challenging period for businesses, but there are a few tactics business leaders can take in order to mitigate the effects of economic instability, including flexible workplace planning.

Flexible staffing is a powerful tactic that businesses can integrate into their toolkit in order to remain successful and competitive in the face of a difficult economic situation. We will go on to explore the ways in which increased flexibility can benefit businesses.

The condition of the UK economy right now and what it means for businesses

To provide some context about the issues UK businesses are dealing with now, as well as those issues which had repercussions that business leaders must now face, we must explore the country’s current and recent economic situation.

While inflation dropped to its lowest figure in two years at 3.4% this February, the fact that it has been high for so long has impacted the country. The Bank of England’s target level for inflation is 2%, which is still not being met – the central bank estimates that we could meet the target in April.

The high cost of energy has affected many businesses who have physical premises, from hospitality and retail to any businesses with an office – 77% of businesses said they had been forced to increase their prices to cope with the cost of energy. The same survey also revealed that over a quarter said energy costs had impacted their profits. Companies who put their prices up in response to these costs may find that customers are not willing or able to pay extra.

One possible effect of these factors is that companies may find themselves having to consider layoffs and other tactics that will harm their team’s morale. However, if they use flexible staffing rather than hiring full time employees, in these turbulent times, they will be able to ensure that a temporary boom doesn’t lead to anyone being laid off. Redundancies have been rising since August 2023, a worrying trend. In the most recently released data from November last year to this January, the redundancy rate stands at 4.6 per 1000 employees, up from the previous figure of 4 per 1000.

Using responsive staffing rather than rushing to hire in the event of increased demand means that businesses can avoid rushing into a bad hire. Doing that could cost the company money (as much as 3 times their salary), cause reputational damage, and affect the morale of the existing team.

The UK economy’s strengths include its large and well-educated labour force, with older workers and women represented well. UK businesses have an advantage in that companies based here are able to benefit from the experience and skills of these workers. A multitude of these skilled workers are open to flexible work, or actively prefer it, for reasons including the ability to balance it alongside other responsibilities such as caring for family members.

The relationship between morale and productivity

Workers across the UK continue to be affected by the cost of living crisis, with food, fuel, private rent, and other expenses remaining high. Providing your team with flexibility and autonomy can be an effective way to help them feel accountable for their work, and therefore be more productive and engaged, rather than feeling demoralised at work.

According to the NHS, “a lack of control of our workload” and “high demands on our time and energy and lack of clarity about responsibilities” are two major factors that can contribute towards work-related stress. These both might be caused by companies struggling with changing priorities or budgets during a tight financial period. Flexible staffing can reduce the strain on your team, by bringing in additional support as and when required.

Many candidates seek flexible work rather than a single full time job. This could be because, as part of a ‘portfolio career’, they want to pursue several different strands of work. It could also be a response to the rising costs of childcare, which is currently causing many parents in employment to try and find a new way of working that suits their needs.

The productivity boost afforded by employees who feel motivated and engaged is something that would massively benefit many companies who are currently feeling the strain. Despite limited resources, you might find that your team is still capable of producing their best work, as long as they feel supported.


Responsive staffing: mitigating the effects of an unpredictable labour market

Responsive staffing solutions can help companies tackle many of the threats and difficulties that come with a difficult economic climate. The flexibility means that companies can respond quickly to changes. It means that companies can hire in line with demand, ensuring that there is no risk that they will be left understaffed – or end up taking on more employees than they need or can afford.

When considering a responsive staffing solution, look for one that can do the following:

  • Only charge you for completed shifts.
  • Provide you with access to a large pool of fully vetted workers.
  • Handle complex shift requirements on demand.
  • Allow you to agree on work contracts in a fair, efficient and frictionless way, even at short notice.
  • Allow you to choose who you hire and offer full financial transparency.
  • Allow you to build your own pool of favourite workers who are accessible on demand.

All these features serve to put companies in control of their hiring, whether they are looking for additional staffing support for several months or the duration of a single shift.

Build your flexible workforce with Coople

At Coople, we support businesses of all sizes with our all-in-one staffing solution, helping you find skilled staff whether you’re in the hospitality, events, retail, logistics, or office sectors. Our flexible platform manages background checks, administration, and payroll for all the flexible workers on our system, saving you time and money.

Cost transparency – you only ever pay for completed shifts. Our platform allows businesses to access a line-item breakdown of fees, salaries, and National Insurance for every shift hour.

Transparency for ensure quality – see job histories, ratings from other employers, and which favourite pools workers are part of, ensuring you never have to hire blindly again.

Build your own ‘favourites’ pool – save lists of favourite workers you trust so you can hire them at speed in the future.

Hire at any time – Coople’s platform allows you to post new jobs 24/7 and hire workers on your own schedule. Our matching algorithm finds the best workers for you in seconds – thanks to our “auto-hire” feature.

Increase profits – flexibility helps to reduce your fixed costs by adjusting team sizes to meet current needs as demand curves fluctuate, ensuring your business is never left without necessary manpower or with too many employees.

Graphical illustration of the adjustments of a fixed versus flexible workforce to sales fluctuations

How embracing adaptability can bring your business increased success

While the economic situation is certainly challenging for businesses in the UK today, by innovating and being adaptable, companies can weather the storm. Having a flexible workplace plan can make a business more resilient and give them an edge on their competitors.

The benefits of adaptability are clear: businesses can save money on costs, improve employee morale and productivity, and gain access to time-saving tools. Our service strives to help businesses achieve long-term success.

With Coople, flexible workforce planning becomes an experience that pays off. We connect reputable companies with ambitious workers who want to make a difference today and are ready to learn new skills tomorrow.

Join Coople today – no subscription or set-up costs.