Why the age of permanent PAYE work is dead

Modern workers want flexibility above all
Romanie Thomas

THE EVOLUTION OF MODERN WORK started during the agricultural revolution, when working schedules coincided with daylight hours, on average hitting that 8 hour “9-5” day. This was solidified during the industrial revolution when work further mechanised and clocking in and clocking out became the norm. We see this heritage in our employment contracts, with hours and location of work being specified, despite that clearly being incompatible with modern work that demands creativity and problem solving, optimised when individuals work in a customised manner, suiting their needs for downtime, family life, and personal pursuits too. Here, Romanie Thomas, CEO and founder of Juggle Jobs, explains why the age of permanent PAYE work is dead and how a more open-minded approach to hiring and working style has the power to transform business.

Employer and employee interests have aligned 

As companies emerge from the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, we are set to experience a fundamental shift to flexible contracts over inflexible PAYE work. History tells us this is inevitable, as at the end of each economic downturn, it is the flexible employment method emerging at the time that booms. In the 1990s and 2010s, employing IT staff on contracts enabled companies to scale rapidly and meet the technology demands of the modern world. The interests of professionals to earn well in a relatively flexible transactional manner coincided with companies wanting to de-risk and have the flexibility to scale up and down at will. The 2020s are likely to see the rise of portfolio careers and the decline of traditional, permanent jobs, as once again the desires of professionals complement companies’ commercial objectives.

There has been mass expansion of the flexible lifestyle

In the professional jobs market, flexible working has historically been designed for two categories of workers: women with children who need flexibility and non-executive directors who work portfolio-style across a range of companies, dividing their time and working when they want to. In today’s market, we are experiencing a mass expansion of both categories. It’s no longer just mothers who want and need flexibility and crucially, more people are now able to access it as it’s become culturally and legally acceptable. Employees beyond those in NED roles also now have the skills and inclination to work portfolio-style. This creates complexity and uncertainty for companies in the short-term, as they navigate managing different people on different schedules, but when the exchange is a more skilled person, then all parties benefit.

Learning and development has accelerated

Professionals are able to speed up their careers significantly, as instead of learning their trade in a linear fashion, across a small number of employers, they can accelerate this education by working simultaneously for different companies. This offers exposure to multiple business models and a range of problems. In turn, this diversity of experience becomes extremely attractive for companies, who – if they are to survive and thrive in the future market – must attract people who look at the world and behave differently.

Automation is becoming commonplace

As automation and use of tools becomes more mature, companies become free and able to meet inevitable demand by hiring and managing people on a flexible basis. Tech enables companies to move extremely quickly - a critical edge in business and one that is often underestimated. If it takes three months to hire an experienced person and they don’t make it past their probation, it costs months of energy, thousands in fees and a significant amount of opportunity, too. Employing people flexibly means companies can move quickly and reverse decisions if the wrong hiring decision has been made – with little disruption to the existing team or the person themselves. It is far more cost effective, as it cuts out agency recruiters and more time efficient, as companies can take the risk to hire rather than endlessly interviewing. Experience tells us that interviews are notoriously bad indicators of performance, yet we continue to use them globally.

Covid has changed everything

Prior to the pandemic, professionals were already looking for flexibility – now they’re demanding it. Companies are wrestling with a range of HR challenges: retaining millennial talent, attracting quality problem solvers, solving diversity issues and controlling costs. All of these can be solved by increasing one’s flexible workforce and decreasing the permanent one. The companies that ultimately ‘win’ are those that embrace the needs of their people – and the nation’s workforce isn’t accepting of an employment mechanism that is stuck in a different era.

For more traditional businesses, a total shift in operational style can feel overwhelming to leadership. However, the cost of failing to evolve quickly is much higher than that of making changes to offer greater levels of flexibility. Success is people-powered and if organisations are to attract and retain the talent required to drive business recovery and drive growth, it’s time to say goodbye to PAYE and ensure that the new F-word has a permanent position in their future.

Founded in 2017, Juggle Jobs is the leading digital platform to find, onboard, and manage, experienced, flexible professionals – called ‘flexperts’. It has over 15,000 individuals on its platform, matching employers with potential candidates, focusing on flexible contracts. The team is diverse, with six nationalities (Italian, Hungarian, Indian, English, German, Russian) working across five countries (Hungary, UAE, Portugal, Scotland, England), while women account for 50% of the leadership team and 46% of the company. In November 2020, Romanie raised $2M from global VCs, and the company recently closed a successful crowdfunding campaign - achieving 133% of the target.

Written by
Romanie Thomas
Written by
November 26, 2021