Gig Economy driving Generation Z in Singapore

PERSOLKELLY’s 2018 APAC Workforce Insights show that while Gen Z job seekers seek temp employment, rest of Singapore’s workforce not as prepared to shift away from traditional full-time roles

Singapore, 20 Mar 2018 — Generation Z job seekers are more likely to seek temporary employment over permanent full-time positions, according to an APAC Workforce Insights survey recently commissioned by PERSOLKELLY. Almost two-thirds of Gen Z respondents in Singapore agreed that more jobseekers are pursuing contract-based roles, 30 percentage points higher than the other age groups.

Often referred to as the gig economy, this way of working describes a labour market where temporary jobs—or “gigs”—are commonplace, and companies grow or shrink their workforce on an as-needed basis. This allows workers to act as free agents with greater control over their work situation.

Flexibility was the most compelling reason for workers to join the gig economy, with flexibility a key reason for 66 percent of respondents here.

“Gen Z workers in Singapore are more receptive to the gig economy as it gives them access to more varied or interesting work, a greater sense of agency in their careers, and the opportunity to connect with new people,” said Foo See Yang, Managing Director and Country Head, Singapore at Kelly Services.

However, Singapore’s diverse and multi-generational workforce might not be fully inclined towards a gig economy yet. Only 47 percent of respondents agreed that jobseekers are more likely to be seeking flexible contract-based roles over traditional full-time roles, suggesting that the shift away from permanent full-time roles is not yet prevalent.

While the multi-national aspect of the gig economy can appear to benefit both workers and organisations, the survey revealed that Singapore respondents have one of the region’s most negative perceptions towards the gig economy. 48 percent of respondents expressed that they are worried that organisations would face workforce integration challenges. 39 percent of respondents also expressed concerns that workers may lose their protections.

Notably, Gen Z respondents in Singapore had a more optimistic view of the gig economy, with the top expected impact a positive one—49 percent of Gen Z respondents predicted increased employee satisfaction and productivity as the top impact, higher than the average of 38 percent.

Workforce integration difficulties was the second highest impact, with 47 percent of Gen Z workers here citing it as their top impact. This suggests that while Gen Z workers recognise the hurdles towards implementing a gig economy, they value the benefits associated with free agent roles just as much.

“Regionally, we see that the work ideals of each generation are changing. Employers will have to place greater emphasis on flexible working,” said Mr Foo. “Companies that can make flexibility a core part of their employee value proposition can expect to see greater employee attraction, retention, well-being and engagement outcomes.”

While the move towards a gig economy workforce style is not yet entrenched in Singapore, it is gaining traction in certain parts of the region. Hong Kong has most embraced the free agent trend, with 55 percent of its workers agreeing that there is a preference for more flexible employment. Vietnam (50 percent), Thailand (48 percent), and Singapore (47 percent) are close behind.

Coupled with Gen Z’s preference for the gig economy, it is likely that a greater proportion of the workforce will seek more flexible employment opportunities in time as Gen Z enters more senior roles and are able to assert more control over when, where, and how they work.