In Conversation with Kit Glover – Q4 Staffing in a pandemic

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Continuing our ‘In Conversation With…’ series with ecommerce leaders, I sat down with Kit Glover, UK MD of digital staffing platform Coople to discuss Q4 staffing in a pandemic.

Today, just one in six firms (15%) rely on a flexible workforce, with 1.5m temporary employees working in the UK today. This figure is set to rise with Coople research revealing that more than a quarter of firms (27%) in the UK are reconsidering the role agency workers have in their business in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic. This doesn’t just include the need for Q4 Staffing in a pandemic but may well be a permanent change in the way firms view their employee requirements.

With businesses future uncertain but with online retail busier than ever, there is a need for staffing but many businesses are uncertain of the future on an ongoing pandemic coupled with Brexit uncertainty and so quality temporary staff are a more attractive option than ever.

“We spoke to businesses across the UK; and on average, half of organisations stated COVID-19 has led to their profits slightly or significantly declining. The figure was even worse for organisations who don’t use temporary workers; they reported losses of almost double their competitors who do use agency workers. It’s time to relieve that financial pressure.

When demand uncertainty is high, the right staffing strategy can make or break a business. If you staff for low demand, you might miss out on much needed revenue. If you do the opposite and demand is low, costs can quickly become prohibitive.”
– Kit Glover, UK MD, Coople

Naturally Kit suggests that responsive staffing is key for many businesses but emphasised that temporary staff still have many workers rights such as legal right to minimum wage, statutory holiday pay and the statutory minimum length of break times from day 1. You also need to ensure they don’t exceed 48 weekly working hours and they are entitled to protections, including from discrimination.

The two main options available to employers are to hire direct or abrogate some of your responsibilities to an agency who take on the HR management. Agencies also take on payroll responsibilities but the downside is that you will pay an agency fee.

“Most businesses prefer to have a pool of regular flexible workers who they can rely on and who already understand their business. The key is to find qualified and motivated people who are available when you need them. The conflict is obvious. The people who are usually available are rarely the highest qualified. As a rule of thumb, your pool should be at least three times the number of workers you ever need at the same time.

If you are a small busines, need higher numbers of flexible staff or are based in a less frequented area, you should consider working with a staffing agency. Their screening processes exceed beyond the right-to-work checks and include screenings for experience and qualifications. Digital platforms like Coople also allow you to set up your own favourites pool on their platform, so you can hire the same workers regularly.”
– Kit Glover, UK MD, Coople

The next 10 weeks are likely to be the most challenging in history for online retailers. With perhaps a quarter of the country already in local lockdowns and Wales having announced a 17 day lock down ‘fire wall’ starting on Friday this week, online sales are set to explode once again… and that’s with some of your own staff falling ill and having to self isolate.

The time to arrange emergency staff isn’t when you’ve hit the wall and are desperate for an extra pair of hands. The time to make arrangements is now so sign up with an agency such as Coople, or make sure you have a pool of staff you can take on direct, before it becomes a crisis.



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