Contingent Workforce in Asia- Temporary vs. Permanent Roles

When given the choice between flexibility and security, what comes first for you?

Since the end of 2017, and continuing into this year, we are seeing more companies using temporary roles in place of permanent roles. We are also witnessing a greater surge of demand for IT professionals, which may be a result of the Industry 4.0 movement, as companies look to further digitise operations with smart technology, a trend that is also observed in both the financial services and retail sectors.

On the whole, the Asia market is catching up to and using more contract/ contingent workforce. This shift in culture means that companies are also offering temporary workers better benefits packages that may be on a similar level to permanent workers, and offering temporary roles to more professional positions as well.

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Considerations when taking a temporary role

According to a recent study conducted in Singapore, there’s been a shift in views towards the taking on of temporary roles. The study showed that attitudes towards contract work are mostly positive, with 55% of respondents feeling that temporary roles will have a positive effect on their long-term career.

A major benefit of temporary roles is that they let you test out different positions without committing long-term, which also allows you to escape the office politics, a common feature among organisations. In fact, 23% of people indicated that they would take a temporary position, as it allows for greater exposure into different industries, and 20% valued the opportunity to enter a specific organisation through temporary roles.

Since temporary work is more flexible, it is ideal for people who are looking to earn extra cash in a short period of time. As indicated by 19% of respondents, they felt that a great advantage of temporary working solutions is flexibility and work-life balance.

While the general opinion of contract roles has changed for the better, there is still a preference in Singapore for more permanent positions. In the same study, 60% of respondents revealed that they would consider temporary roles if they could not find a permanent position. The main reason for this was due to the irregular work nature, and 25% said job insecurity was what discouraged them from temporary roles the most. So it was no surprise that 30% of respondents said that they would take contract jobs if they were offered at higher than market rate salary.

Although benefits and compensation packages for temporary workers has improved in general, on average, there is still a discrepancy regarding what temporary workers receive compared to permanent employees. This concern for benefits packages, or the lack of benefits for temporary roles, was also reflected in the survey with 24% of respondents indicating that this was a concern for them when considering a temporary role. That said, 21% of people said that they would consider the role if there was assurance of conversion to a permanent role down the line.


Weighing out the perks of a permanent position

When compared with temporary working solutions, a permanent role has the advantage of greater financial security. The long-term working arrangement also allows you to have a clearer view of progression, allowing you to set goals.

Due to long-term commitments to the same place, there is generally a greater sense of belonging and job satisfaction. However, this can also be a point of frustration for some, as the lack of change may be unfavourable for those who are more adventurous. Consistent working patterns can also mean a greater susceptibility to finding the work mundane.

While permanent roles provide security, employees can also feel tied down by notice periods, making it harder for you to leave if you so decided.


Boiling down to preference

As a trend, we are seeing more senior candidates with over 10 years of experience and a solid foundation go for contract roles, as they offer better flexibility. At the end of the day, both temporary and permanent roles have their ups and downs, so it is up to you to weigh out the priorities that are crucial to you in order to find the best balance.

If you are thinking about transitioning into contract or temporary work, make sure you check out the following article (“Hesitant about Temporary or Contract assignments? Be open to change”) to help you weight out what is more important for you.

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