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Global contingent workforce response to COVID-19


We recently reached out to our network and customers to gauge how the contingent hiring market was performing during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was exclusively completed by senior executives of businesses that recruit, engage and deploy contingent workers, for us to understand the strategic decisions that were being made.
The survey was responded to by senior leaders in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, providing a balanced multi-jurisdictional view of the market.
The results were largely positive and reassuring that the contractor hiring market remains stable through the downturn.

Impact of COVID-19

Finding new business and opportunities for growth is one of the top challenges for 40% of our contingent workforce leaders in this uncharted territory. General anxiety about the global pandemic comes second at 23%, and retention of customer requirements is also a key challenge at 18%.
Interestingly, working from home hasn’t impacted 68% of respondents’ ability to find and engage new talent. 24% felt it had impacted them negatively and only 8% felt it had a positive effect.
Other key challenges that were cited by our respondents include:

  • Volume of work for in-house teams. With teams becoming leaner than ever to reduce costs, the same (if not more) work is being done by less permanent employees.
  • Managing the health and wellbeing of contractors from home. Business leaders globally have been on a steep learning curve to support employees through the health crisis, and managing the extended period of working from home.

Respondents have favoured reducing the number of working contractors on their books, over reducing individual contractor rates. Nearly half of respondents didn’t reduce the number of contractors on their books since COVID-19. When asked if they had lowered contractor rates since the pandemic began, 72% said they hadn’t needed to reduce rates.

The future of a post-COVID world

The mood appears optimistic with 36% of respondents estimating that when their business fully reopens, there will be the need for more contract workers. No respondents said they would need fewer contingent workers which is heartening. The need to diversify the business offering was another clear theme in the results. Over half the leaders are “positive” or “very positive” about the hiring market bouncing back in the next 12 months, which shows they aren’t too concerned about the long term damage of COVID-19.
When asked which work functions will be the most in demand after this tumultuous period has passed, Information & Communications Technology was selected by 80% of respondents. People also chose Project Managers and Consultants, Information Services and Sales & Marketing.
While it has been a strange time for many people both personally and professionally, it is encouraging to see such positive responses coming forward from the contingent workforce market. Job ads are continuing to rise so let’s hope this optimism continues well into 2021.
See below for our infographic with more detail.
The workforce market insights survey was completed by twenty-five organisations that recruit and deploy a contingent workforce. Respondents operate in Australia, UK and New Zealand.

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