On-Tap Workforce - The Flexible Solution

Published: Wed 26 Nov 2008 02:07 PM
On-Tap Workforce - The Flexible Solution
Auckland, 26 November 2008: With New Zealand employers coming under increasing pressure and feeling low business confidence as a result of the global economic crisis, a flexible working environment could provide welcome relief.
According to Mike Davies, Chief Operating Officer for Adecco Personnel in New Zealand, flexible has become fashionable in many parts of the world and it could be the solution here.
Adecco is the world’s largest provide of temporary and casual staff with offices in 70 countries. Mr Davies says the downturn in the global economy has conspired to create a far more flexible working environment in New Zealand, particularly for small business owners.
“New Zealand businesses require more flexibility than most and our heavy reliance on overseas exports makes us vulnerable to factors outside our control - exchange rates, unknown competitors and lack of visibility for long term orders,” he says. “So there is the need for us to be versatile and flexible in order to be competitive on the world stage.”
He points out New Zealand has long been behind many other OECD countries in its utilisation of temporary, casual and other flexible labour arrangements, taking the conservative view that employees must be hired permanently if they are to be reliable and productive.
As a result, core roles offering skilled work or ‘interesting’ jobs are filled by permanent staff only, whilst generally menial, repetitive and non core functions are given to temporary staff.
“It is little wonder then that motivated New Zealanders have traditionally sought permanent work options,” he says.
But he says there are some smart businesses in New Zealand who have cottoned on. “We have numerous examples of companies who have managed to trim costs and increase productivity through a more flexible workforce.”
He also cites one Christchurch company that made large redundancies only three years ago due to a lack of export orders, used a flexible workforce when the firm got busy again to meet the additional demand. Now, because of the economic uncertainty facing many businesses, some of this workforce has been reduced with no permanent jobs being affected.
According to Adecco General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Joanne Gorman, times have changed and we now have a group of skilled young people, our Generation Y, who aren’t looking for the traditional longer term permanent work, but instead favouring ‘soundbites’ of work and experience. “Our current pool of available talent is better than ever and come at a time when we most need it,” she says.
She says Adecco have seen a noticeable shift towards an ‘on-tap workforce.’ “Many businesses are discovering that the cost of carrying a workforce all year round ‘just in case’ can be crippling,” she says. “They are starting to use a more flexible workforce as a way of protecting permanent jobs, so that as additional roles flex up and down, the jobs of the permanent workers are not affected.”
Recent survey findings show there is a lot of uncertainty in the New Zealand marketplace about hiring new staff and the difficulties employers are having in forecasting future demand. With businesses looking at ways to reduce fixed costs, many are looking to a more flexible workforce to get them through the tough times.
According to Jacqui Barratt, President and Board Director for Recruitment and Consulting Services Association (RCSA), there is a broad use of casual, temporary and contract work across most industry sectors and positions. “More businesses now structure their work differently and are working what their core business is and where their resources are best utilised,” she says.
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