A novel staff transfer system which enables individuals or teams to swap agencies but later return to their employer has been launched by the virtual agency Pimento.
It has been inspired by the football loan scheme which allows players to move to another club on a temporary basis.
Under the scheme, agencies or in-house departments will be able to offset staff costs during difficult times by seconding them to another agency needing extra resources. After a set period agreed between the two parties, the team or individual will return to their original agency.
Nick Band, co-founder of Pimento People, said: “Reducing headcount can be an expensive business and a decision you may live to regret once business picks up. We’ve now created a way to lose the cost without losing the people.”
The transferred staff will still be legally employed by their original agency and bound by their employment contracts.
The loan service comes at a time when agencies are facing increasing financial pressure as a result of the shift from retainers to project-based remuneration.
Jeremy Hemmings, former M&C Saatchi senior manager and now a consultant at Pimento People, said the loan scheme would prove a valuable tool for agencies having to re-shape their operational model to meet the new dynamics of the agency market.
“In a trading environment as tough as it’s ever been, agencies are still carrying a huge salary overhead without the confirmed future revenue to support it. By seconding under-utilised staff they will see an immediate reduction in variable costs but enjoy the option of bringing them back when times improve,” he said.
The scheme will be piloted amongst members of the Pimento agency network before being rolled out to a wider agency audience.
Pimento People have also launched a freelance placement service which matches independent contractors with agencies needing support.