While the Asia Pacific has one of the strongest economic growth over the decades, most of the countries in the region follow a rather traditional workforce structure. Human resource personnel of big and small enterprises prefer to hire permanent workers to maintain stability and avoid sudden changes that may shake up the organization.
But the global pandemic brought permanent effects on the way we work and things are not going to snap back to being exactly like they were before this crisis happened. And the speed of these changes, alongside economic uncertainty as supply and demand fluctuates, has encouraged companies of all sizes to rethink their traditional workforce strategies and embrace fresh hiring approaches to stay competitive.
Contingent workers offer the flexibility and agility to respond to new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities — they are the freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, or other outsourced and non-permanent workers who are hired on a per-project basis. Some are working on-site, some remotely.
Companies in Indonesia (32%), India (31%), Vietnam (25%), and Thailand (25%) currently have more than 20% contingent workers in their total employee count, according to PERSOLKELLY's 2022 APAC Workforce Insights released on Wednesday.
In Vietnam, where manufacturing is the dominant industry among the surveyed companies, 61% of them hire contingent workforce employees to help widen their workforce’s scope or strengthen skills to cope with evolving demands.
The report also revealed companies are turning increasingly to a contingent workforce strategy to overcome headcount shortages. The second most popular strategy to fill gaps in the workforce is training and upskilling.
For the last 12 months, nearly half of employers reported they had hired a contingent workforce for up to 10% of their staffing needs. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of all companies use a contingent workforce for more than 20% of their staffing needs, with the highest adoption seen in Indonesia (32%), India (31%), Vietnam (25%), and Thailand (25%).
While Vietnam already taps contingent workers for workforce planning flexibility, 50% of the employers and HR decision-makers surveyed have revealed intentions to increase their headcount in this segment over the next two years. One of the reasons is to make it easier to upsize or downsize as required. Across the Asia Pacific, about 25% share the same goal in the same period.
Furthermore, the survey found a growing trend for businesses to reward contingent workers in the same way that they reward their full-time staff. An average of 45% of companies across all markets indicated this, especially within the sectors of FMCG, Healthcare, IT/Hi-Tech, and Logistics/Supply Chain.
In fact, Vietnam is among the Asia Pacific markets, along with Hong Kong, New Zealand, India, China, and Taiwan, which indicated they would offer better rewards to contingent workers compared to permanent hires.
As for which skills are in demand for a contingent workforce across the region, IT (including Data Analytics, Cybersecurity, Programming, and Project Management) is on top of the list. Others include general administration, sales/business development, and marketing. In Vietnam, IT (44%) and sales/business development (38%) are the most in-demand skills.
Elvin Tan, PERSOLKELLY’s regional director and head of operations in APAC, said that while the economic uncertainty remains, the post-pandemic rebound presents businesses with a wave of opportunities.
“Given the talent shortage and fluctuations in supply and demand, growth-hungry companies must embrace fresh hiring approaches to stay competitive,” Elvin said. “A well-implemented contingent workforce strategy brings multiple benefits in this volatile landscape.”
Overall, the data clearly show that the contingent workforce will play an even more critical role for businesses on the way forward. For businesses to succeed in this fast-evolving landscape, they need to be ready to adapt quickly and have a robust contingent workforce strategy in place.
The survey, done in cooperation with YouGov, involved 1,112 respondents who have been contingent workers over the last 12 months across 12 markets — Australia, mainland China, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam — from the following sectors: automotive, banking, investment and insurance, FMCG and FMCD, government and statutory agency, healthcare, life science and pharmaceutical, IT and technology, logistics and supply chain, manufacturing and engineering, professional services, consultancy and BPO, constructions, education, and retail and trading.