Firms expect drop in fulltime employees amid rise of “gig economy,” survey says

by HRD28 Feb 2017

Singapore firms expect a 3% drop in the proportion of fulltime employees over the next three years, a global survey by advisory firm Willis Towers Watson (WTW) said.

“With the rise of the ‘gig economy’ and a shift towards hiring contingent workers, made easier with advances in workplace technology, we anticipate this to be a sustained trend.”

While 43% of the Singapore firms report that their hiring activity was unchanged over the last 12 months, demand for key talent is increasing in response to the changing business landscape.

“The recently launched plans by Singapore’s Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) highlight the need for businesses to be innovative, adopt stronger technological capabilities and integrate fresh approaches to respond to the changing business landscape. As the Republic continues its economic transformation, workplaces are experiencing a shift in how work gets done,” said Darryl Parrant, WTW country leader, talent & rewards, Singapore.

About 61% of firms plan to change their workforce activities to prepare to hire more freelance workers now or over the next three years, amid the digitisation of the economy and developments in technology.

Singapore is expecting a larger growth in share of contingent workers over the next three years at 59%, compared to 29% regionally, according to the survey’s results.

“There are strengths and weaknesses to these employment arrangements and organizations need to think carefully about how they engage, manage, reward and motivate these talents,” said Parrant.

“Some of the advantages that come along with these types of workers are specific sought-after skills, flexibility, cost savings and increased productivity. By understanding the key drivers of their diverse talent pool, businesses put themselves in a better position to execute their growth strategies.

Earlier this month, the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) unveiled a report on how the country’s economy can stay competitive for the next decade.  The CFE is committee of 30 members from different industries that operate in both global and domestic markets, as well as enterprises both large and small. It is co-chaired by Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat and Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran.

Among other things, it said new technologies and business models such as digital platforms bring about new opportunities for individuals – including gig workers and freelancers – to market their skills, provide their services, and earn an income.

“We should embrace such developments as part of an innovative and entrepreneurial economy. At the same time, while individuals can take advantage of this flexible form of working arrangements, we should ensure that such workers are supported, for example, with respect to retirement adequacy.”


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