Temporary and contract workers becoming more permanent solutions in Hong Kong


With the local economy growing and business activity increasing, Hong Kong’s employers are looking to the temporary and contracting market to make up for shortfalls in skillsets found in the permanent recruitment market, according to recruiting experts Hays. This is one of the key findings in the Hays Asia Salary Guide 2019, a report that highlights salary and recruiting trends based on responses from Hays Asia operating markets Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.

“Our data shows that companies in Hong Kong are utilising the burgeoning temporary recruitment sector in ever-greater numbers, with 91 per cent telling us that they have employed temporary or contract staff over the past year, up from just 83 per cent in 2018,” says Dean Stallard, Managing Director of Hays Greater Bay Area.

“There are a number of reasons that employers are turning to temporary staff, and this is a clear signal that companies increasingly understand the benefits that this form of hire can bring.”

Increase in business activity

The report shows that 71 per cent of companies in Hong Kong witnessed greater business activity over the past 12 months, far exceeding expectations, and 70 per cent predict yet more activity in the coming year).

In order to cope with this bullish demand companies have been hiring more permanent staff, with 52 per cent reporting headcount increases over the last 12 months. In 2019, 51 per cent employers forecast yet further augmentation, however demand for talent continues to outstrip supply.

“Despite this upsurge in hiring, 33 per cent of employers have seen overtime increase over the past year, up from just 28 per cent in 2018, signifying that companies are unable to access the talent that they require to fulfil objectives,” says Dean.

“These gaps are being filled by an increasing reliance on temporary staff, and the 2019 Hays Asia Salary Guide reveals that yet more companies foresee that they will be using temporary talent in the coming year.”

Skills shortages

Only 11 per cent of Hong Kong employers feel that skills shortages will not hamper the effective operation of businesses in 2019, and as productivity was the area most affected over the last 12 months, companies predicting increased business activity are advised to keep their recruitment options open.

“Employers have told us that they are less optimistic in their ability to recruit candidates with the skills needed to meet their needs, with only six per cent very confident that they will be able to do so,” notes Dean.

“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.”

Employee Benefits

“As well as the number of opportunities available to candidates, there are great benefits for those operating in the temporary or contract sector,” continues Dean.

“Temporary work allows candidates to operate in an industry or sector in which they may not have previously worked, affording them an opportunity to gain skills in a new area while developing CVs. In addition, temporary recruitment often has a speedier hiring process and financial packages may be weightier.

“Furthermore, as the report notes, the majority of employers are seeking hard skills to meet their operational requirements, particularly in project management, statistical analysis and data mining, and computer skills, meaning that candidates can upskill in these areas to further improve, and safeguard, their future prospects.”

Employer benefits

“For companies too, the utilisation of temporary workforce also has many advantages,” Dean adds.

“The recruitment of permanent staff can be a laborious process, as new hires are expected to be perfect fits. However, new temporary recruits need only meet the immediate demands of areas that are particularly difficult to fill. In addition, companies are able to contain recruitment costs, enabling organisations to source specialist expertise for specific projects.”

Compared with Asia

With just eight per cent of employers saying that they never use temporary or contract staff, companies in Singapore have the highest number of companies employing non-permanent staff in some form. However, Japanese organisations utilise their temporary workers to a greater degree, with 54 per cent saying that they use contract staff on a regular, ongoing basis.

Companies in Singapore (37 per cent), Malaysia (34 per cent) and Hong Kong (32 per cent) mostly used temporary employees for special projects, while 21 per cent of employers in Mainland China said that they ‘never’ used non-permanent staff.

Organisations wishing to address immediate skills shortages have been turning to temporary hires with a greater enthusiasm in 2019 than the previous year. At the time of the survey, employers in Malaysia saw the greatest rise in the utilisation of non-permanent staff for this purpose (11 per cent in 2018 to 28 per cent in 2019), followed by Japan (13 to 25 per cent), Hong Kong (12 to 23 per cent) and Singapore and Mainland China (11 to 18 per cent).

25 per cent of companies Asia-wide expect their use of the temporary workforce to increase in 2019, with 62 per cent predicting levels to stay the same. Highest growth expectations are in Mainland China and Malaysia, where 26 per cent of companies forecast increases in temporary workers. Hong Kong and Japan (25 per cent) also expect high levels of increases, but companies in Singapore have the greatest proportion of respondents expecting decreases (17 per cent).

Get your copy of the 2019 Hays Asia Salary Guide by visiting www.hays.com.hk/salary-guide or by contacting your local Hays office.

- Ends -

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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Hays is located in Hong Kong at 6604-06, 66/F, ICC, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon, Hong Kong.

About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2018 the Group employed 10,978 staff operating from 257 offices in 34 markets across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2018:

– the Group reported net fees of £1.072 billion and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £243.4 million;
– the Group placed around 77,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 244,000 people into temporary assignments;
– 19% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 26% in Germany, 24% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 31% in Rest of World (RoW);
– the temporary placement business represented 58% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 42% of net fees;
– Hays operates in the following markets: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mainland China, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA

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