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Contract employment continues to grow
While contracting has been a popular talent solution in more mature employment markets like Australia and the United Kingdom for years, its acceptance in Asia, including Hong Kong and Singapore, has only started gaining speed in previous years.
In mature contracting markets, contract work is seen as a way to achieve better work-life balance, pick up new skill sets, or as a means for moving into full-time employment. On the employer front, contracting allows companies to adjust their workforces with the ebb and flow of the economy.
This flexibility associated with contract work, both for employers and employees, has been one of the key reasons for the boost in Singapore’s and Hong Kong’s contracting market. In fact, 85% of employers surveyed across the two cities said that they were planning to increase or keep to the same number of contractors over the next 12 months.
While contracting has been popular across the financial services, administrative and technology sectors two years ago in Hong Kong and Singapore, more companies in other sectors, like human resources and marketing, are now starting to offer contract employment as well.
Companies in these two cities now have a ready pool of candidates, including experienced and qualified mid to senior-level managers, to choose from as more professionals warm to the idea of contract work.
On the remuneration front, more forward-looking organisations are rewarding high-calibre talent with attractive pay and benefits, in addition to the possibility of being offered a permanent job. Some companies are even engaging senior executives on a contract basis for the unique skills they bring to specific projects.
Interestingly, smaller financial institutions have been quick to offer good remuneration and benefits packages compared with more established companies in a bid to woo top contracting talent.
Still, a key challenge in both Singapore and Hong Kong is making contract staff feel motivated and included. More can be done by way of training opportunities, bonuses and other job perks, which are widely offered to contract staff in more mature contract employment markets.
5 ways to maintain company culture when hiring contractors
1. Have strong induction and onboarding processes. Share the company’s aims, values and culture as well as its code of conduct and allocated payday. Give contractors a chance to ask questions as well.
2. Provide adequate training. Many employees take on contract work to acquire new skills. By taking the time to train them, they can jump straight into projects — and be motivated to add those skills to their CVs.
3. Have strong team building practices. This will help contractors build rapport with permanent team members, who might otherwise stick together. Try consistent low-key team building activities like weekly lunches or informal brainstorming sessions.
4. Avoid subtle differentiators. Eliminate elements, like different-coloured ID badges or introducing contract workers as a temporary employee as these can make contractors feel like outsiders.
5. Remember your permanent staff. Clarify with both contractors and permanent employees what their role allocations and project aims are and make sure there is no potential for conflict. Ensure that managers are the ones who bring contractors up to speed on the office culture so that other team members are not left having to do this extra job each time a new contractor comes on board.