Is the tide turning?
But unfortunately there is also bad news. The financial meltdown, and the resulting job losses, has left a bitter taste in the mouths of those unlucky people who were laid off. Although there may be more jobs becoming available now, battle-weary employees are cautious. No longer content to leave their fate in the hands of a nameless, faceless head of a corporation, more employees are looking for alternatives to the traditional employment model. Contracting is becoming a more popular option, with more people choosing to register an ABN or appoint a contract management firm to invoice for services rendered as opposed to receiving a salary. This has the added benefit of allowing the worker to be engaged by more than one company – spreading the risk, so to speak. Others are demanding more generous notice periods, or access to redundancy pay in the event that it is unavoidable. Savvy employers recognise the importance of securing the resources required to anchor their organisations on the path of recovery and growth, and we’re now seeing the traditional employer / employee model being challenged across all industries for the first time.
The emergence of these new employment models is more good news. Employers should take advantage of having a flexible workforce that they can expand and contract in line with their own requirements. The recently introduced Fair Work Australia Act with some of the more onerous obligations which came in January 2010, make keeping your permanent headcount down more attractive than ever. Other benefits of making use of non-permanent resources include lower employment insurance costs, reduced management overhead and the ability to focus training spend on a smaller, more select group.
Far from being a more expensive alternative, it’s entirely possible for resources via a contract management firm to cost exactly the same as a regular, fulltime employee. How? It’s important to note that we’re not talking about the traditional contractor here, who gets paid a premium hourly rate. We’re talking about an individual who works for a regular, fixed salary, and who gets the same benefits as any other staff member, like access to annual leave. The only difference is that they aren’t on the payroll, and instead get paid on invoice.
There is no doubt that the last 18+ months has left even the most resilient among us battle weary and cautious. But in every adversity lies opportunity and this one presents us with the chance to rebirth our businesses as leaner, sleeker, more modern versions of their previous selves. And that can’t be all bad!