Why we need to focus on promoting agency worker engagement

18 Jul 2017


Previous research on staff engagement has focused on permanent employees, but agency workers are also a key part of the workforce, with the average length of assignment being 17 weeks. In the REC’s latest research, Tune in to temps: how employers and recruiters can support agency worker voice in the workplace, produced in partnership with the Involvement and Participation Association (IPA), we talked to employers, recruiters and their workers to explore how employee engagement can be promoted amongst agency workers.

Agency workers make up a significant proportion of our labour market, with 1.2 million workers placed into temporary/contract jobs every day. A quarter of British adults have been agency workers at some point in their careers, meaning it’s something a good many of us have, or will, experience during our working lives. If our ambition in the UK is to have a productive, engaged workforce overall, ensuring temporary agency workers have as good an experience at work as permanent staff should be something to which all serious employers aspire.

With recruitment becoming increasingly difficult because of labour and skill shortages, employers may become even more reliant on their agency workers – to meet peaks in demand or to access key skills in the short term – meaning that valuing your temporary workforce and making them feel engaged isn’t just a ‘nice to do’, it’s a business imperative.

Our research with the IPA asks the vital question of how to engage agency workers in the workplace. Employers and recruiters both have important roles to play to create the best possible environment for temporary staff, and in doing so get the best out of their workers. It comes down to recognising the specific motivations of someone working on a shorter contract while ultimately treating them the same way you would a permanent member of staff – they want to be a part of the same team, have the same opportunities to develop and feel valued by their managers.

People choose agency work because of the opportunities it brings, from having control over their working hours, to developing new skills with different employers, to finding a route into permanent work. The two scenarios that make up the report are set in very different environments that show a diverse spread of agency workers.

Flexible working is one of the great success stories of the UK economy – essential and beneficial to businesses, to our economy and to the individuals who choose to work that way. We’re proud to partner with the IPA on this crucial research into engaging agency workers in the workplace and are delighted that REC members continue to provide examples of good practice.

The REC has developed key recommendations for both recruiters and employers so that they can understand the motivations of someone working in a flexible way and best support their needs to ensure high productivity among their temporary workforce. Find out more in our latest research, Tune in to temps: how employers and recruiters can support agency worker voice in the workplace.

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