Employees on a conveyor belt leaving their jobs as a metaphor for great resignation

Article by Charlotte Gregson, MD, COMATCH

The combination of skills shortages and the pandemic have, over the last few months, created a spike in many leaving the PAYE workforce behind as a shift in lifestyles and priorities were bought to the fore from hybrid working, the need for new skills to changed expectations of what an employer should offer.

But where there is a crisis, there is also opportunity for change, and the flexible resourcing field is becoming ever more prevalent as these shifts in attitudes continue to gather pace.

The UK consulting sector is valued at £12bn, within that the independent market is valued at £2bn. As a curated marketplace for independent consultants and industry experts, COMATCH saw a sharp increase in employers looking for consultants to plug the gap in their organisation.  Employers are having to work harder to attract people and forced returns to the office for employees gave rise to the dearth of key staff in many offices and what we are seeing in the marketplace right now is a recalibration as we continue into a post pandemic world.

This has expedited the trend toward on-demand talent as a future of work. An increasingly digital business landscape has meant a growing demand from companies for highly specialised talent to help navigate this changing business environment. Online talent platforms offer access to skilled individuals with the capabilities and expertise to help businesses thrive in today’s new, rapidly changing economy.

Harvard Business Review recently reported that “despite the extent to which companies are now turning to [digital talent] platforms, very few firms have developed a cohesive organisation-wide approach to their use. However, for businesses to remain competitive in the digital era, they need to understand that incorporating on-demand expertise and capacity can be a significant competitive advantage.

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Digital transformation and IT related roles as well as M&A and due diligence roles have remained a hot topic over the past 12-18months, we are still seeing women under-represented in these categories. Industries like IT Strategy, Asset Optimization, and IT Architecture has the lowest share of females working in these fields. Hybrid working and flexible hours can be a great way for women with commitments elsewhere to re-join the workplace, notably seeing more consultancies open to working to the four days per week set up or protected hours. Female consultants impress with their CVs and present themselves better in interviews: Compared to the male consultants they have a 13% higher probability to receive an invitation to an interview after clients saw their CV and a 7% higher project win rate after they had a personal conversation with the potential client. This underutilised talent demonstrates there is still more work to be done to encourage this female talent pool into these opportunities.

As much as it took us a while to get used to working from home, so the return to the office will take time for adjustment. The pandemic without a doubt has expedited trends around the future of work and use of external talent which is a good thing. For firms facing retention issues having the flexibility to bring in talent for capacity constraints or specific expertise on an ‘as needed’ basis is very compelling. For a lot of our consulting clients this has fundamentally changed the way that they staff their case teams with externals now making up a fixed percentage of project teams. How exactly hybrid working pans out remains to be seen, as workers establish new routines and ways of working.

About the author

Charlotte is COMATCH‘s Managing Director for the UK & Ireland; she joined in 2018 to launch the London Office. With over a decade focused on cross-sector talent management, she has specialised in building networks and placing independent consultants. Previously, she worked as a management consultant for both L.E.K. Consulting and IMS Health (now IQVIA). Charlotte holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Imperial College London.