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Marr Procurement highlights The issue of Temporary Labour Agency staff

12 April 2019

Marr Procurement is the UK’s Care Sector Procurement Specialist, with an established sourcing model across a wide range of spend categories. We work closely with our care sector clients of all sizes to reduce costs, and to date have sourced a total spend of £300M on their behalf.

Marr Procurement understands well the pressures of the sector, and recently hosted two workshops, with Neil Eastwood from Sticky People, where we brought together existing and prospective clients to discuss the issue of Temporary Labour Agency staff. This is a key cost and operational issue for our clients, and as a result is the most common cost saving project we work on.

Delivering savings in Temporary Labour is complex as the costs cannot be looked at in isolation from other key concerns such as: securing staff with the right quality and experience, compliance with all applicable regulations, fulfilment issues in certain geographies etc. All of this needs to be looked at in the round, and in the course of many such projects Marr Procurement have gathered important ‘lessons learnt’ to benefit our clients at every step of the Temporary Agency cost reduction journey.

Here are a few key pointers for any organisation starting such a programme.

1. Planning the Programme: Any project to deliver savings in Temp Agency spend must consider both the “Supply-side” – ie how the Temporary Labour is sourced and what rates are paid to both staff and agencies, as well as the “Demand-side” – ie what is driving the need for the Temporary Labour staff in the first place. These are separate but related strands of the same project, and must work in tandem if material savings are to be achieved. 

2. Supply-side first: Always start with tackling the Supply Side first – get the sourcing model right for your organisation, and negotiate good rates. There are several Supply Side agency models with different benefits/issues:

A. Proliferated Model - where lots of agencies work with various operational sites.

B. Master Service Vendor Model – where all agency requirements are channelled by the client through one large agency

C. Neutral Vendor Model – involves engaging with an independent third party who manages the agencies and audits them.

D. Hybrid Model – where the fulfilment effort is performed in-house by the client and outsource the online timesheet system.

It will be important to choose the right model for your organisational needs and requirements.

Marr Procurement have experience of all these models and can help recommend what would work best for you.

3. Controlling the Demand-side: Once the Supply-side has been tackled, it is important to understand that over time the largest savings are likely to come from managing down the demand for Temporary Agency staff. In essence this boils down to 3 things:

i. Understanding your current Temporary Agency usage and spend levels

The availability of detailed Management Information is critical here – getting the right reports with the right frequency is the key ingredient;

ii. Reducing your staff turnover

Keeping good staff is key in all organisations. There is much research on the impact of improvements in areas such as training and even onboarding/Welcome processes which can radically reduce turnover rates;

iii. Improving the success rates of your recruitment efforts

Finding the right staff and keeping them is key to this. From simplifying application forms to employee referral schemes, there are many steps your organisation can take to make your recruitment processes more targeted and impactful.

For best practice advice on reducing staff turnover and improving recruitment, we recommend the book ‘Saving Social Care’ by Neil Eastwood.

Meanwhile Christoph Marr and Neil Eastwood will together be running a Temporary Labour workshop at the upcoming NCF Conference in June. Please join us at this event to hear more about our thinking on this important issue. If you are not able to attend the Conference but would still like to understand more about our approach to reducing Temporary Agency spend, and how we might be able to help you and your organisation, please visit or contact Christoph Marr on 01206 382888 or by emailing

We look forward to hearing from you.

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