Understanding The Flexible Workforce

In his article on The Source, Jerry Collier wrote ‘The new generation of top talent work …are embracing a more flexible, hybrid approach to their careers that is driving the phenomenal increase in contingent / independent workers across the globe. This shift has huge implications for the HR function.’
While his comments were directed to the US market, Jerry’s thoughts reflect what we’re seeing in the marketplace in Asia Pacific –

We’re engaging with an entirely new generation of contractors and contingent workers, and they’re instrumental to the ongoing success of many organisations in the region.

This new wave of workers is independent, dynamic, self-employed, and very much in control of their own careers. They take full advantage of the flexibility and choice available to them, making decisions on who they work with on a variety of factors, rather than straight remuneration. Work life balance plays a significant part in their employment patterns – work for a while, and work very hard whilst doing so – then take a break, relax, and enjoy other facets of life.
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In Australia


It shows, too. Look to Australia, where compared to permanent employees, contractors work more hours per week than permanent employees, and are more likely to work on weekends as well as workdays. However, it’s not about the grind – they value the flex, too – with more say in their starting and finishing times.
As much as companies are deciding which contractors to engage, contractors are making values-based decisions of who they work for. They’ll opt out of lucrative opportunities to instead work with companies they identify with, those with a solid culture, a funky brand, or even a positive and active approach to CSR.
With such a clear link to productivity – on top of the other commercial benefits of a contractor workforce – it’s straightforward for organisations to establish a solid business case for contingent. However, it’s vital to ensure that the right policies, procedures and protections are in place, for both the contractor and the employer.

Where Next?

So where to next for Asia Pacific? In mature markets, we are anticipating continued growth in use of contingent workers. We are also expecting to see an increase in people wanting to work as contractors or freelancers – changes in attitudes, Internet, lifestyle are leading to new work arrangements and styles. Within Asia Pacific, places like Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia are showing a shift to contingent work but at a much slower rate than Australia

Benefits Of The Flexible Workforce


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1. Access

To the best talent – shouldn’t restrict whether you use a perm employee or a contractor – you just want the best person for the job.

2. Control

Enables organisations more flexibility to manage their headcount

3. Agility

Ability to staff up for specific project requirements (building a gas pipeline) / seasonal activities (Christmas)

The Challenges


Visibility and control

Many organisations have decentralised models for managing contingent labour – therefore lack control over this part of their workforce in terms of spend, compliance.


Costs can get out of control if not carefully managed … the costs of these workers are often more hidden for an organisation than FTEs.

Risk + Compliance

Co-employment risks need to be carefully managed. Other compliance factors also need to be looked at – tax compliance, health and safety, performance management.

If you want to learn more about managing your contingent workforce function, and implement a future focused strategy, join us at this year’s Contingent Workforce Conference in Sydney 22-23 September.


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