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Nearly 70% of SMEs are harnessing freelance talent in Europe

67% of SMEs are now filling skills gaps within their company by harnessing freelance talent from all over Europe, averaging 41 hours of freelance work per month on top of their core payroll.


According to a survey of 1000 UK SMEs carried out by online staffing platform PeoplePerHour, while almost a quarter (23%) of SMEs say that freelancers enable them to cover any extra workload without having to increase overheads, it’s the ability to fill positions which local applicants lack the skills for which seems to be the biggest driver towards freelance recruitment, with 55% explaining that this is the main draw for their increased freelance expenditure.

Increased capacity and flexibility were also cited as reasons fro outsourcing to a freelance workforce, appealing to one in three (37%) of employers surveyed. 27% said that they simply wouldn’t be able to run their business without online outsourcing, while a further 13% of SMEs said that being able to easily access skilled workers without incurring recruitment fees was a major influence in their decision to take on freelancers

62% of small and medium sized business managers claim that they now work with more freelancers than employees, with teams being made up of an average of three employees versus twelve freelancers. Through this change in team make up, it’s estimated that employers can access upwards of 50 different skills, while the in-house team are generally only able to deliver five to ten.  A consequence of this is that one in five (21%) of small business managers now say that their team is made up of workers from at least three different continents.

The survey found that the top outsourced skills are admin, web development and app development

PeoplePerHour founder & CEO, Xenios Thrasyvoulou, commented, "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. 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.

"Self-employed and freelance workers make an enormous contribution, not just to SMEs and the wider business world, but to the whole of the UK economy. In allowing businesses to access niche skills without the expense and trouble of recruiting a permanent employee, it could be argued that the freelancer is the real grist to the mill of British business. It’s time that we stopped underestimating the benefits that they bring."


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