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Hong Kong – Financial services firm increase their use of interim and temporary staff

07 November 2013

Financial services firms in Hong Kong have increased their use of interim and temporary staff in an attempt to manage costs, according to new research published today by recruitment firm Robert Half. The research is based on responses from 150 senior leaders in financial services companies in Hong Kong to a survey developed by Robert Half.

The majority (62%) of those polled said that their company’s use of interim or temporary staff had increased since the global financial crisis, showing the continued need for Hong Kong businesses to engage interim human resources to augment permanent staff. This was most pronounced in medium sized businesses, where two thirds (66%) of financial services leaders said there has been a significant shift towards using interim and temporary staff.

Ms Pallavi Anand, Director of Robert Half in Hong Kong, said: “It comes as no surprise that financial services companies have increased their skilled interim and temporary workforce. Businesses are relying more heavily on a flexible workforce to access specialised skills that either do not exist amongst their permanent employees or are needed for projects. These include project financing, outsourcing of processes, or acting as interim managers while a new operation is set up. It makes completes business sense.”

“Many companies faced a tough lesson on the consequences of over-hiring and were forced to make mass redundancies in the past. Now, they are bringing in a mix of permanent and temporary professionals – which gives them the flexibility they need to cover the workload. In addition, hiring the wrong person can be a costly mistake for businesses, so many see their temporary staff as giving an on-the-job audition,” she added.

Questions 1: As a result of the financial crisis, has your organisation's use of temporary and/or interim professional increased, decreased or stayed the same?              

  Total Small businesses Medium businesses Large businesses
Increased significantly/increased somewhat 62% 60% 66% 63%
No change 33% 33% 34% 34%
Decreased significantly/decreased somewhat 5% 7% 0% 3%

The reason for the uptake in interim and temporary staff, according to the survey, was to manage costs effectively. More than half (56%) of those surveyed highlighted cost savings as the driver of increased temporary staff, followed by the ability of skilled talent (40%). Only 4% of respondents said they used temporary staff to manage changes in infrastructure.

Questions 2: What is the primary reason that has prompted the increase in your use of temporary and/or interim professionals? 

  Total Small businesses Medium businesses Large businesses
Cost effective/cost savings 56% 52% 58% 62%
Availability of skilled talent / knowledge 40% 42% 37% 38%
Workload support to manage changes to infrastructure 4% 6% 5% 0%

“There are also many benefits to working on an interim or project basis for skilled professionals as it can offer career flexibility and provides the opportunity to network and bolster the CV. Some interim jobs in the finance, accounting and technology industries are also known for their attractive compensation,” concluded Ms Anand. 

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