Contract workers, temps on the rise, says report

PETALING JAYA: More employers are turning to temporary and contract workers to fill the gaps in skill set among permanent workers, according to the 2019 edition of the Hays Asia Salary Guide.

The report by the recruitment firm, which highlights salary and recruitment trends in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore, said 27% of local companies acknowledged hiring temporary or contract staff on a regular basis compared to 21% in 2017.

Similarly, more employers are expected to increase their reliance on temporary or contract staff than in previous years, at 26% in 2019 versus 23% in 2017.

Tom Osborne, managing director of Hays Malaysia, attributed the findings to several factors including an increase in business activity.

According to the report, 60% of companies in Malaysia have witnessed greater business activity over the past 12 months, with more expected in the coming year.

Although companies responded by hiring more permanent staff, with 42% reporting an increase in headcount over the last 12 months, nearly one in four employers (38%) also saw an increase in overtime, compared to 33% in 2017.

“(This signifies) that companies are unable to access the talent they require to fulfil objectives.

“These gaps are being filled by an increasing reliance on temporary staff,” Osborne said in a statement today.

The report also highlighted a shortage of skilled workers, with only 6% of employers saying business operations this year will not be hampered by such a shortage.

“Employers have told us that they are less optimistic about their ability to recruit candidates with the skills needed to meet their needs, with only 5% very confident that they will be able to do so,” Osborne said.

“Our research shows that when it comes to tactics taken to address immediate skills shortages, the recruitment of temporary workers has doubled in the past two years, leading to substantial opportunities for candidates operating in the temporary sector.”

He also spoke of the benefits such candidates would receive, including opportunities to gain skills in new areas while developing their CVs.

“In addition, temporary recruitment often has a speedier hiring process, and financial packages may be weightier.”

This would also benefit employers, as the recruitment of permanent staff “can be a laborious process, as new hires are expected to be perfect fits”, he said.

“However, temporary recruits need only meet the immediate demands of areas that are particularly difficult to fill.

“Companies are also able to contain recruitment costs, enabling organisations to source specialist expertise for specific projects.”

The 2019 Hays Asia Salary Guide involved 3,000 employers across Asia representing some six million employees.

According to the report, Singapore has the highest number of companies employing non-permanent staff in some form, although Japanese organisations utilise their temporary workers to a greater degree with 54% saying they use contract staff on a regular basis.

Companies in Singapore (37%), Malaysia (34%) and Hong Kong (32%) mostly used temporary employees for special projects, while 21% of employers in China said they “never” use non-permanent staff.

At the time of the survey, employers in Malaysia saw the greatest rise in the utilisation of non-permanent staff for this purpose (11% in 2018 to 28% in 2019), followed by Japan (13% to 25%), Hong Kong (12% to 23%) and Singapore and China (11% to 18%).