Notably, companies surveyed in Indonesia (32%), India (31%), Vietnam (25%), and Thailand (25%) currently hire more than 20% of their employees as a contingent workforce.
About 25% of employers and HR decision-makers surveyed across Asia Pacific, who are already engaging a contingent workforce, have revealed intentions to increase their headcount in this segment over the next two years.
According to PERSOLKELLY's 2022 APAC Workforce Insights, released on Wednesday (6 April 2022), almost half of the respondents are currently utilising a contingent workforce for up to 10% of their workforce, and are also planning to continue to expand their contingent workforce to 15% and above in the next two years.
The survey involved 1,112 respondents across 12 markets — Australia, mainland China, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Snapshot: How companies are filling gaps in their workforce
Per the insights, most companies surveyed turned to a contingent workforce to help with workloads when experiencing a headcount shortage.
Among all markets, the highest adoption of this workforce was noted in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore (67%, 66%, 64%, and 60% respectively).
Notably, the survey also found that Indonesia (32%), India (31%), Vietnam (25%), and Thailand (25%) currently hire more than 20% of their employees as a contingent workforce.
Beyond this, companies are also filling the gaps through training and upskilling, with 54% saying they used this option to help widen their workforce's scope or strengthen skills to cope with evolving demands. Zooming in to the markets, China (67%) and Vietnam (61%) — were most likely to adopt this strategy.
On the other hand, less than three in 10 (28%) said they would turn to government agencies or educational institutions for their workforce needs.
Among markets, the top markets which indicated that they would offer better rewards to contingent workers compared to permanent hires include Hong Kong, New Zealand, India, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam where all had over 30% responding; while an average of 45% of companies across all markets said they offer the same rewards compared to permanent hires, with the highest number of respondents in South Korea (60%), followed by China (57%), Thailand (54%), and Australia (50%).
Why companies in APAC are hiring a contingent workforce
Keeping the above in mind, the survey dug deeper into just why many employers and HR leaders are turning to a contingent workforce. The most common reason, it uncovered, was the flexibility it offers for workforce planning, making it easier to upsize or downsize as required — in fact, an average of 55% surveyed cited this as their top reason, driven by those in Vietnam (67%) and India (63%).
The second top reason cited was to fill specialised roles to ensure no disruption to operations and the business overall. On average, 51% of companies stated this reason, with the highest responses in Singapore (66%) and Vietnam (63%).
Other key reasons cited include the availability of a workforce with specific skills on a short-term/project basis, and allowing time for evaluation prior to hiring permanently.
Top ways companies in each market are rewarding their contingent workforce
Looking at how this group is rewarded — according to the survey, there is a growing trend for businesses to reward contingent workers in the same way that they reward their full-time staff, with an average of 45% of companies across all markets indicating this.
At the same time, 74% said they are likely to reward contingent workers in the same way as, or better than, full-time staff, with a primary motivation being to attract top talent for critical delivery, preventing project delays or any risk of impeding company growth.
Top three in-demand skills for the contingent workforce
Last, the survey also delved into the top skills that are most sought after within the contingent workforce.
In particular, the most in-demand skills across the region include IT (including data analytics, cybersecurity, programming, project management), general administration, sales/ business development, and marketing.
In terms of market demands, India (50%) and Vietnam (44%) most sought IT skills, while Hong Kong (48%) and Singapore (42%) most sought general administration skills; and China (39%) and Vietnam (38%) most sought sales/business development skills.