Our understanding of the working world has transformed over the last 10 years. Flexible working has challenged the way we think about employment and many Asian companies are moving away from traditional working patterns.
As well as the reality of employees working from home or remotely, HR has seen a huge increase in the number of people actively choosing flexible freelance or contract work instead of permanent, full-time employment.
A Workplace 2025 report by HR consultancy Randstad suggested that up to 50% of the 4,660 business executives and workers included in their survey will have opted for "agile" careers by the end of 2019.
Many businesses are following suit and swapping a section of their permanent workforce for independent contractors. In a survey of more than 200 senior business leaders across Asia-Pacific, KellyOCG’s Workforce Barometer Report 2017 found that 88% of those surveyed are planning to maintain or increase their percentage of contingent workers during 2018.
Why is this happening? And what does it mean for businesses and workers? Let’s explore further...
Businesses need a ‘complementary ecosystem of talent’
Asia is bracing itself for a talent and skills shortage in the near future. Randstad’s report shows that almost 7 out of 10 employers believe that the skills gap is growing and the KellyOCG survey found that 61% of Asia-Pacific senior business leaders think talent shortages will disrupt their business in the next 3 years.
Talent forms the backbone of a successful business and in order to compete, it’s essential for businesses to keep up with the current rapid pace of change.
Speaking to HRM Asia, James Stovall, Senior Vice President of Solution Design at Randstadt Sourceright said, “By implementing an integrated talent approach - where permanent, contingent, independent, and machine labour are engaged strategically - companies can improve their workforce agility by having access to the right talent at the right time.”
“An organisation’s maximum business potential is unlocked when it has an optimal mix of both the contingent and permanent workforce,” added Peter Hamilton, Asia-Pacific Regional Director at KellyOCG.
“That optimal mix ensures that the permanent workforce runs the core operations alongside the contingent workforce, forming a complementary ecosystem of talent.”
Mr Hamilton continued, “Organisations stand to benefit from a highly-skilled and experienced contingent workforce that sees a particularly strong representation among Baby Boomers and those with higher degree qualifications, as well as professional and technical skillsets,”
Essentially, it’s more important than ever for HR teams to maintain an agile and responsive workforce and have the ability to hire contingent talent that integrates well with their full-time employees.
Bad press for the gig economy
There’s no doubt that the gig economy is expanding, but debate rages about whether this is by choice or necessity. Are gig workers deliberately choosing flexible options, or are they simply unable to find a permanent role during an economically unstable time?
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said that combating the rising movement of “casual employment” would be one of its key priorities during 2018. The organisation is calling for employees who have put in six months of regular work to be given the option of converting to a full-time, permanent position.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said “There have been too many loopholes; too many ways for employers to get around ensuring people have rights and security at work.”
However, smart organisations know that an engaged and motivated workforce is the key to a successful work environment, and contingent workers don’t have to be on the sidelines.
Peter Hamilton says, “Building a strong and honest relationship with contingent workers as you would with your permanent workforce will enable a more trusting and collaborative work environment. This can be achieved by providing similar benefits and training, for example, or by simply including them in regular meetings and updates, just like you would if they were part of your full-time workforce.”
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