Out of the Shadows: Managing Self‐employed, Agency and Outsourced Workers

Sara Nolan (Editor, Strategic HR Review)

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 18 April 2008



Nolan, S. (2008), "Out of the Shadows: Managing Self‐employed, Agency and Outsourced Workers", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 58-58. https://doi.org/10.1108/shr.2008.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

According to the authors of this book, typically up to one half of all people working on behalf of any given organization are not their own employees – they may be self employed, such as freelancers, contractors, agents or consultants, or employed by someone else, such as people working under outsourcing agreements, interim workers or agency staff. Despite the fact that the work they are doing may be vital to the organization, the authors claim that little attention has been paid to managing, motivating and engaging these “non‐employees.” The book challenges two assumptions – that these employees are outside of the control of the organization and that they are victims. It uses legal analysis and case study research to show that non‐employees can be an organization's most important hidden asset.

The book starts by showing the potential dangers involved when little management attention is paid to non‐employees by discussing two high profile cases where brand value and revenues were lost as a result of such an approach to staff working through outsourcing agreements. This case study approach continues throughout the book, with 36 studies covering employing organizations, such as GlaxoSmithKline, BP and British telecom, providers of skills and support services, such as Capita Learning and Development and Manpower, and individuals working as non‐employees, spanning the UK, Australia, France and Belgium.

The case studies add a practical element to the theoretical discussions that include the key features of the employment of non‐employees, the characteristics and motivations of non‐employees and the HR aspects of employing non‐employees. Questions addressed include:

  • How do you decide whether to use non‐employees?

  • How do you select skills providers and successfully integrate non‐employees into the organization?

  • What are the key HR issues for non‐employees?

  • What is the nature and impact of the regulatory framework applying to non‐employees, including health and safety, employee relations and wider social and welfare issues?

  • What are the key issues for the successful use and skills maximization of non‐employees?

The aim of the book is to raise awareness of the extent of the contribution being made by non‐employees to user organizations, to identify their distinctive needs, to highlight the need for HR to play a larger role in their management, to share good practice in the selection, induction and training of non‐employees, to examine the related regulatory framework, to explore the issue of how increased use of non‐employees can be reconciled with the need for quality control, and to examine the nature of the employment relationship between non‐employees and the employing organization. The authors do a good job of moving beyond discussion of the trends towards more flexible working patterns and organizational structures, which have been covered extensively in recent years, to provide a useful and practical guide for HR practitioners in organizations with a flexible workforce that includes the self‐employed or those employed by third parties.

Related articles