A study completed by workforce management solution provider Humanforce has found that nearly 70 per cent of casual workers have experienced an equal or greater amount of work shifts, as compared against pre-COVID-19 levels.
Only 27 per cent of casual workers reported they were working less shifts than before pre-COVID-19 levels. The report found that this is due to employers being forced to hire from a smaller pool of casual workers.
These findings were backed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics which further found the pandemic had reduced casual employee numbers from 2.6 million in February 2020 to 2.3 million in December 2020.
“Casual workers really bore the brunt of the impacts of COVID-19 during 2020, because many of them are employed in areas that saw some of the biggest disruptions from lockdowns, such as hospitality, retail, events, and tourism,” says Bruce Mackenzie, Founder and Managing Director at Humanforce.
“While it’s really heartening to hear that the majority of casual workers have returned to normal or higher work hours this year, we know that this is largely the case because employers are currently really struggling to hire enough casual workers.”
According to Bruce, this is due to a lack of transient workers or international students that previously made up a large percentage of casual workers. With COVID-19 and Australia’s border closure, there has been a resultant drop in available workers.
The report found employers were also facing the challenge of maintaining a stable workforce while managing employee sentiment, especially post-pandemic.
Of the respondents, only 45 per cent maintained a positive view of their future in casual work while 13 per cent said they were trying to leave casual work, and 11 per cent said they were nervous about the viability of casual work long-term.
“While the business outlook in 2021 is much more positive in Australia, unfortunately for employers, they are facing two big challenges – trying to ramp up their casual workforce from a limited pool of workers and casual workers being rattled and lacking confidence in the future stability of casual work, which could undermine their chances of retaining them,” says Bruce.
Approximately 85 per cent of casual workers further said they would accept a more permanent position if offered by their employees.
“To ensure the ongoing stability and strength of their casual workforces, businesses will need to work hard to build up their employees’ confidence again.”
The research further found that to for employers to attract and retain casual workers, certain factors increased job favourability.
This includes 62 per cent wanting guaranteed shifts, 59 per cent wanting flexibility, and 42 percent wanting flexible shifts and hours. A further 43 per cent wanted a stable income and 34 per cent said that providing training would help choosing a job.
“While the majority of casual workers [61 per cent] said their employer had made an effort to keep in touch during the pandemic, in 2021 and beyond, businesses really need to make an even bigger priority of ensuring their casual workers remain engaged and incentivised,” says Bruce.
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