Agile 2020 vision for Australia’s employment economy

By Peter Hamilton >>

IN EARLY 2019, Australia’s unemployment rate reached its lowest level in nine years at 4.9 percent. Despite the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) forecasting further decreases, rates instead have been slowly increasing and we’re expecting to sit at 5.1 percent at the end of this year.

According to the RBA, Australia’s drought, bushfires and international health threats, such as the coronavirus, are impacting consumer spending and employment opportunities. As a result, the RBA has revised forecasts, with wage growth declining to 2.2 percent in 2021, preparing workers for a period of stagnant income growth.

With Australian businesses across all major industries facing slower employment and wage opportunities, business leaders urgently need to look at strategies to strengthen resilience, mitigate risk and adapt during these uncertain times.   


Meeting change with agility

In 2020, more than ever, Australian businesses must review current strategies and undertake new approaches to talent resourcing. In fact, our new report Agility to Adapt to the Future of Work revealed that the majority of Australian business leaders believe that an agile talent strategy is critical to future successes.

Ninety-six percent of Australian C-level executives agree that stronger talent yields strong business performance.

The report explored the key forces that impact talent management as organisations adapt to shifting economic environments. It found that the contingent workforce has established itself as an important work arrangement and source of talent.

 In fact, 85 percent of Australian leaders agree that some of their best talents were found through the contingent workforce. In addition, 40 percent of Australian organisations have a contingent workforce that makes up more than one third of their total workforce.


Deliver talent exactly where it’s needed

An agile workforce is critical in adapting to the organisational business cycles of today. But changing to meet the needs of the business and remaining nimble is hard, and it comes with an element of risk.

You need to consider tapping into a wider pool of talent such as the contingent workforce.  

Local businesses are recognising the benefits of offering alternative work arrangements as skilled talent seek control over their career trajectories.

The majority of Australian leaders (88 percent) recognise that the best talent wants to organise work around their life. To remain competitive, organisations should grant greater flexibility and autonomy to those who want it.

Contingent workers consist of freelancers, independent contractors, micropreneurs, small-business owners and temporary or contract workers. They bring extensive experience to the workforce.

Our report found that 68 percent of Australian businesses are looking to source skills through this alternate strategy.

In larger organisations, many roles are becoming increasingly specialised. Highly trained individuals through the contingent workforce can be brought in to meet a specific technical or business need to fill essential skills-gaps that the permanent workforce cannot.


Invest in un-tapped ideas

As we experience a slowing economy, businesses can benefit from the new skills, opportunities and agility contingent workers can bring.

Despite the benefits of contingent workers, particularly in today’s economic climate, only half (53 percent) of Australian business leaders are proactively engaging in strategies to ensure these team members are embedded into the organisation.

Organisations should take the time now to review their hiring policies, attract the best talent and integrate them deeper within the organisation.

Embracing a non-traditional recruitment strategy opens organisations up to un-tapped talent, new ways of thinking and innovative opportunities for 2020 and beyond.


Author Peter Hamilton is the vice president and regional director, Asia-Pacific,for KellyOCG, a global provider of workforce strategy, solutions, and operations with expertise across every aspect of the talent supply chain.

The KellyOCG Agility to Adapt to the Future of Work study was conducted with more than 200 C-suite level executives across the Asia-Pacific region – including Australia, Singapore, India and Malaysia – from industries such as banking and financial services, business consulting, information technology, engineering and architecture.


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