Restaurants have always been a deliciously perfect mix of temptation and entrapment. Take a bunch of hungry people,  stack them by the dozens in a room surrounded by drool educing aromas, and then drop an entire menu full of options and choices in front of them. More often than not the hungry masses will leave satisfied, but they’ll probably have to put on their glasses to believe at how much the meal actually cost. The lesson: Hunger trumps budget, almost exclusively.

The same could be said for the proverbial buffet of Contingent Labour flooding the market. With businesses staffing their ranks from this talent pool at record highs, it’s truly a feast fit for a king for companies looking to tackle their project based labour needs. According to a recent report published by IQ Navigator-who provides technology that manages staffing vendors and temporary workers-even with the rapid growth in the use of Contingent Labour in 2013, costs stayed relatively flat. As with any great meal out however, cotemp-labor-bill-ratesmes the bill.

Contingent Labour hit record highs in 2013 with a total of 17 million workers in the market. Which works out to be almost an 8% jump from the previous year with no signs of slowing down. That number is expected to grow to 23 million by 2017 (MBO Partners). With analysts predicting what Gary Pollard (VP of Information Products at IQ Navigator) calls “upward pressure” in 2014, companies that got into the market to save on labour costs could be looking at a giant bill, not a giant profit. The reasons for this steady rise in the cost of using temporary workers will be associated with “A continued increase in demand, coupled with an expected tightening supply of workers-thanks in part to a declining workforce participation rate, and an increase in college enrollment for people over 25 years old.” Pollard also goes on to say that the aging Baby Boomer population will also contribute. 

Considering staffing agency markups are generally 20-25%, the math does look daunting. A worker in IT currently making 30 dollars an hour (a position poised for a steep raise, but more on that later) may go to 45-50 dollars an hour. That’s an increased profit to the staffing agency of 5 dollars per hour. Over the course of the year that translates to approximately 19,200$ extra paid to the staffing agency-and that’s just for one employee. In Restaurant terms, that’s one heck of a corking fee. 

Employers are still looking to cut labour costs wherever they can, but the need for labour isn’t going to dry up. Projects will still need to be completed and expert skills will be in demand. So, if you can’t save on the labour, perhaps you can save on the mark-up. By tweaking their current model, employers could find themselves embracing direct source hiring, coupled with IC (Independent Contractor) Compliance and Payroll providers that can offer drastically smaller mark-ups and allow the company to still attract and afford top talent. This would be especially attractive to companies that already have established relationships with Contingent Workers at their locations.

 Nobody likes to be told to think long-term and look at the big picture (especially when they find themselves starving and staring at a bevy of choices and opportunity) but making the right choice in regards to how enterprises source their contingent workforce and who (through Admin and Payrolling or MSP) offers the best opportunity to cut costs, and stay compliant and competitive may allow them to have their cake, and pay the bill too.