While the value and popularity in the gig economy has steadily grown over the last few years, the uptake in contract workers increased exponentially over the course of 2020, especially within the public sector. A significant factor in this sudden increase was the increased workload of public service workers who were required to support the country’s covid recovery. However, as Australia begins to rebuild from the pandemic, will the demand for contract workers remain? Below we examine the benefits contract work provides and how to gain the most traction when looking for contract and temporary staff:
The Rise of The Permanent Temp Worker
The temporary or ‘gig economy’ has garnered more attention as a viable option for workers over the last few years, as more organisations embrace flexible working options and new business models emerge that dismiss the conventional ‘employee’. Take popular ride-sharing app Uber for example, which has an estimated 160,000 contractors picking up passengers worldwide in addition to it’s 2,000 permanent staff. Indeed, as organisations begin to rebuild and recalibrate from both the economic challenges of 2020 and the pandemic , the upswing of temporary contract work has gone into overdrive; in freelancer’s annual ‘Fast 50’ report, the number of freelance or temporary positions globally increased by 41% between April and June last year.
In addition to the consequences of covid, the application of automation and artificial intelligence technology to manual and repetitive tasks has meant many organisations have changed their labour force; relying on automation and AI for day-to-day functions and bringing in experts and consultants on a temporary basis for more complex issues.
Taking a closer look at the Australian public agencies and departments, AusTender reported that contracts for temporary workers in 2020 totalled $1.36 billion – an increase of around $500 million on the previous year. Last year also marked the sector’s lowest proportion of ongoing employees, representing 87.5% of the workforce. This increase in non-ongoing, casual staff was credited to the increased workload experienced across the public sector due firstly, to the bushfire crisis and then the COVID-19 recovery. Both Services Australia and the tax office were responsible for adding around 3000 extra staff, no doubt to cope with the sudden increase in income support and tax requests.
While workloads begin to re-stabilise in 2021 as COVID-19 recovery initiatives come into effect, the surge in temporary and contract workers is only expected to grow as the public sector realizes the value in building an agile workforce. In the release of the Australia Public Service Commission’s 2020 State of The Service report it was announced that the Australian Public Service (APS) will establish a permanent surge reserve to rapidly mobilise public service volunteers in large numbers to ensure their workforce is ready and equipped to deliver critical services to Australians during times of need. Surge reservists will be deployed for short periods, with initial terms of up to eight weeks depending on the reason for the call up and the level of urgency involved.
These trends suggest that the concept of the ‘permanent’ temp worker- where workers continually move from contract to contract- is going to become the new normal, especially within the APS as demand for contract roles increases.
The benefits of hiring independent contractors
In addition to increased demand, temporary and contract work provides numerous benefits to both the organisation and the individual contractor. In light of the turmoil and rapid rate of change across the workforce last year, many organisation’s original hiring forecasts were derailed. In periods of uncertainty, being able to hire contractors rather than permanent employees can be a great solution for organisations looking for an agile way of managing headcounts and budgets. Consequently, while organisations ride out the covid storm or recover from any financial or operational set-backs, contract roles are a viable option.
Contract workers also bring with them a very diverse and varied skillset, as they’ve had experience working across multiple organisations and systems. Their varied experience also indicates that they’re equipped to identify and resolve a greater range of issues and have developed an outside-in approach to problem solving. This can be advantageous to an organisation, as a fresh pair of eyes can observe ways to make frameworks and systems more efficient. A contract worker - especially in a specific or specialist area – brings particular expertise that is difficult to find and not necessarily required on a daily basis. This means they can fill any knowledge gaps a team might have while offering greater flexibility as the organisation doesn’t have to commit to a contractor long-term and can release them at short-notice without financial penalty.
On the flipside, contract work allows individual workers to diversify and grow their skillset and gain new experiences and opportunities through being able to work in different departments and organisations. This can be especially beneficial to those unsure about the direction of their career or just starting out, as an initial contract can open the door to further long-term opportunities with a particular company. Contract work can also offer greater flexibility which can be better suited to an individual’s lifestyles. However, one of the biggest benefits of contract work is financial; contractors are paid on an hourly or daily basis and are paid for every hour/day they work, unlike employees who are paid a salary. Their wages are typically higher than their full-time counterparts to make up for the fact that they have to surrender the right to entitlements like sick or paid annual leave.
How to attract & appeal to contractors
The challenge for organisations and companies looking for contract and casual workers moving forward is to gain traction in the marketplace as demand in the contract space grows. Differences in the needs and wants of temporary workers vs. permanent workers are subtle but still distinctive. Consequently, it’s important that organisations are aware of these needs and know how to meet them in order to effectively appeal to and attract the desired market. Because as in any form of recruitment, the aim is never just to fill a role, but to fill it with the right person.
According to Linkedin data the key factors contractors’ value when considering a job are similar to that of a permanent worker; strong compensation and benefit options, a good work life balance and positive workplace culture. In a recent Linkedin survey that spoke to U.S contractors, 64% of respondents voted for strong compensation, 59% voted for work life balance and 44% voted for workplace culture. A Harvard Business Review Talent Trends survey found similar results, claiming that contractors were more invested in salary than full-time workers and rated company culture and learning new skills within a role, highly. Consequently, for a contract role to appear more desirable to candidates, it’s recommended that organisations ensure they can meet these requirements; do they offer flexible working options to their contract workers? Can they offer competitive rates? Will contractors be entitled to professional development resources or networking opportunities with the wider organisation?
According to Linkedin’s data, contractors are also more engaged on Linkedin than the average worker; they are 1.6 times more likely to respond to InMails and 1.8 times more likely to engage with content. This makes sense as contractors need to keep a regular eye on the job market so they’re ready to pounce on their next gig. For an organisation, this insight suggests that putting a bigger focus on Linkedin as opposed to other platforms could be beneficial in reaching a bigger pool of candidates. Linkedin also suggest that if an organisation is trying to demonstrate thought leadership, their data has shown contractors engage the most with topics revolving around career growth, self-improvement, employee engagement and social media marketing.
It’s also important to remember that the recruitment process within contracting is fast-paced. Contracts are short term- sometimes 3-4 weeks- and workers want to minimise the length of time between contracts, so are always on the lookout for their next role. Organisations need to move fast to secure a candidate, especially if that candidate is in high demand. Consequently, it’s important to make fast decisions, especially when considering extending a contract or re-hiring a previous contractor.
Another key factor organisations should consider are the processes they have in place to make contractors feel like a part of the team. As Linkedin’s research demonstrates, contractors value a positive workplace culture and thus appreciate opportunities to build and foster relationships and collaborate with the wider team. Subsequently, an organisation should make sure it includes contractors in any social events or publicly acknowledge their input or impact on a project. Establishing these bonds will also go a long way in building a long-term relationship.
Finally, if organisation’s have specific recruitment needs in regards to their contract work, it can be beneficial to reach out to a recruitment organisation that specialises within your particular industry or deals with contract roles. For example, because Public Sector People focuses solely on recruiting within the public sector, a significant portion of contract roles we work on are contract roles. This focus has ensured our consultants have built strong relationships with a number of candidates and are well versed in what will and won’t draw talent to a contract role.
If you’re looking to fill a particular contract position or advice on whether contracting would work for your organisation, don’t hesitate in reaching out to our specialised consultants.
You can reach us at:
Phone: (03) 8535 3111
Benefits include: Contract to end of April 2021 Excellent transport links close to council ASAP start - apply today, start tomorrow! About the role: Public Sector People are currently inviting applications for the role of Governance Support Officer to join a inner metro Council in Melbourne's eastern suburbs on a contract through until end of April 2021 The main objective of this role is to provide efficient, effective & confidential administration support to the Strategic Governance & leadership team by undergoing such tasks as; triaging of a busy email inbox, raising & allocating requests to various departments across the organisation, following up on those requests and running reports, whilst proactively managing diary and meeting schedule for multiple stakeholders. Requirements include: Proven skills in providing administrative and secretarial support in a confidential team based environment Ability to plan workload and manage competing work demands Demonstrated advanced experience in MS Office, especially in creating, formatting & editing complex Word and Excel documents Governance experience particularly relating to preparation of minutes and agendas. Experience in using InfoCouncil system Knowledge and experience in Council's organisational structure For a confidential discussion regarding this opportunity or other Administration roles in Local Government, please contact Sarah Kettlewell on (03) 8535 3111.
Public Sector People are working with a Council based in the Wimmera region of western Victoria & are seeking an experienced Administration professional to support the Fleet & Main Office Depot of Council. The successful candidate will be offered a role until April 2021 and will be responsible for providing a broad range of administrative support, basic finance and customer service activities specific to the division. Key Requirements: Experience providing high level administrative support Proven experience arranging meetings & agenda, taking minutes Ability to perform a range of basic finance tasks Demonstrated ability to work to deadlines and effectively prioritise multiple tasks Ability to deal discreetly and tactfully with confidential and sensitive matters Ability to gain cooperation and assistance from other employees and external stakeholders. Knowledge and experience in the use of a variety of computer systems Experience in an office administration/customer relations work Qualifications in administrative/secretarial studies or relevant experience For a confidential discussion regarding this opportunity or other Administration or Customer Service roles in Local Government please contact Sarah Kettlewell on (03) 8535 3111.
As an approved Victorian Public Sector provider working with organisations across Melbourne, we are looking for industry experienced Executive & Personal assistant to join a Council in Melbourne's south east, on an initial short term contract with the potential to extend. As a successful candidate you will display previous experience supporting at executive level, providing effective diary & calendar management, meeting minutes & agendas along with the ability and confidence to build and maintain productive relationships with internal & external stakeholders. Key Requirements; Proven experience in a role supporting at executive management level Experience working within a political based organisation Exceptional attention to detail & ability to manage conflicting workloads High level of communication; verbal & written An ability to maintain strict confidence at all times Experience liaising & gaining corporation across all levels of an organisation A ‘can do’ attitude with the ability to pro-actively identify support needs Knowledge & experience in political government processes If you are seeking your next contract or permanent role and would like to speak further in regards to upcoming roles please contact Sarah Kettlewell, 03 8535 3111
Public Sector People are currently inviting application for the position of Business Support officer to join a prestigious inner metro council through a period of exciting transformation. Contract through until July 31st 2021, full time. As the successful candidate you will be responsible for a supporting the Team Leader and act as a generalist Business Support function to the team including assisting with testing & training of the new request management system being rolled out. Key Requirements: Proven experience providing excellent executive support Capability to learn systems and programs including MS Suite, TechOne or other similar CRM, documents management & finance systems Demonstrated ability & passion to provide excellent customer service, respond to customer issues and propose areas of improvement in processes An innovative and proactive mindset with excelled attention to detail and the ability to work supporting a range of teams and functions For a confidential discussion regarding this opportunity or other Administration or Customer Service roles in Local Government please contact Sarah Kettlewell on (03) 8535 3111. Alternatively, please e-mail your current resume in Word format using the apply button.
Public Sector People are currently inviting applications for the role of Administrator to join a large growth area council in Melbourne's north. This role will see you supporting the Building & Planning Support Services team through a period of growth & will see you responsible for providing high level customer service, including answering customer queries, minor technical advice & reproducing and supplying building plans and related permit documentation. To be successful you will have the capability to learn quickly, show a strong ethic & commitment to your role. Key Requirements: Proven experience providing high level customer service both at council and over the phone Building industry experience is preferred Knowledge or experience in Local Government Capacity to work effectively and efficiently in a busy office environment Experience in use of Corporate Databases such as Authority, TRIM or Pathway as well as intermediate - expert in MS office For a confidential discussion regarding this opportunity or other Administration or Customer Service roles in Local Government please contact Sarah Kettlewell on (03) 8535 3100. Alternatively, please e-mail your current resume in Word format using the apply button.
Public Sector People are currently inviting applications for the role of Councillor Support Officer to join a prestigious inner metro council on a contract through until April 2021 with the potential to extend beyond. As the successful candidate you will be responsible for providing high level administration support to Management , logging & managing councillor / community requests, diary management & assisting the team leader with the events program. Key Requirements: Previous experience in Local Government organisation Proven experience with system Pathway & Council's Records Management Excellent communication skills both written and verbal Knowledge and experience in governance programs in the Local Government context Proven experience in processing & managing executive requests Must possess highly developed organisational & time management skills The Public Sector People team is ideally positioned to provide career advice, guidance and expertise to those seeking a new challenge or industry advice & want to hear from Administration & Business Support professionals to work across all divisions of Council. Should you wish to consider this opportunity please APPLY via. the link today or contact Sarah Kettlewell on 03 8535 3111 and please note only successful candidates will be contacted.
Public Sector People are currently inviting applications for the role of Administration Officer to join council's City Development team. The position reports directly to the Administration Team Leader and as the successful candidate you will provide a high level of administrative, systems support to assist with the smooth operation of Council’s Building & Planning Services Department. You will be responsible for the provision of high level customer service by telephone and counter including providing basic technical information & advice. Key Requirements; Extensive background in an Administration or Customer Service role Experience & knowledge of Building & Planning legislation in regards to Local Government Experience with industry specific systems; Intramaps, Pathway (SmartClient) & MS Office Previous experience processing property information and building search certificate requests and enquiries Working with a number of Council’s within Melbourne you are interested in this or other Local Government opportunities please contact Sarah Kettlewell on (03) 8535 3111 TODAY!
Public Sector People are currently inviting applications for the role of Online Communications Officer, to join a Council based in Central Victoria. Offering a contract through until June 21 part office/home based role. As the successful candidate you will have proven experience in Local Government environment and familiar with the use of the OpenCities platform. As part of the communications team you will provide online communications advice to the organisation and develop and manage Council's online communications channels, including website, intranet & social media. Key Requirements: Experience in a similar role managing a range of online communication channels and campaigns Demonstrated knowledge of current and emerging trends in the online space and proficiency in the use of a range of online communications tools Ability to develop relationships with key stakeholders to promote improvements and the achievement of organisational goals Excellent online publishing and content creation skills, with specific knowledge and experience in web writing and content management, email marketing and social media For a confidential discussion regarding this opportunity or other Administration or Customer Service roles in Local Government please contact Sarah Kettlewell on (03) 8535 3111. Alternatively, please e-mail your current resume in Word format using the apply button.
Public Sector People are currently inviting applications for an experienced Customer Service Officer to join a Council in Melbourne's Inner City Suburbs on an initial 3 month, offering a minimum of 25 hours per week with opportunity for more hours. This role is to provide where possible, first point resolution to customers of Council, seeking advice, assistance or information regarding a variety of Council’s services. Key Requirements: Experience delivering face to face, phone and online customer service in a large diverse organisation Previous contact centre experience will be highly regarded Experience and passion for delivering an exceptional customer experience and an understanding of the concept of first call resolution Accurate and developed typing and communication skills; both verbal and written. This includes high typing accuracy, grammar and spelling. Experience managing difficult / aggressive customers and trouble shooting complex enquiries Experience handling cash and end of day balancing - High attention to detail required Valid National Police Check or ability to obtain if successful For a confidential discussion regarding this opportunity or other Administration or Customer Service roles in Local Government please contact Sarah Kettlewell on (03) 8535 3111. Alternatively, please e-mail your current resume in Word format using the apply