Robert Walters Contracting Survey 2020: Contracting workforce of different generations not fully prepared for remote working

Employers to enhance agility to embrace generational differences in experimenting new ways of work

HONG KONG, Aug. 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — With new ways of work emerging in Hong Kong especially during the pandemic, the contracting workforce is however not fully prepared for all demands on remote working, according to the Contracting Survey 2020 published by Robert Walters Hong Kong, a world-leading specialist professional recruitment consultancy. The survey presented views of more than 100 professionals with contracting experience and looks at different generations and their motivations for becoming a contractor and their preferred ways of working, and addresses steps companies might take to retain their contractors and build a more cohesive workforce.

Contracting workforce of different generations are not fully prepared for remote working yet. Employers are advised to enhance agility to embrace generational differences in experimenting new ways of work.
Contracting workforce of different generations are not fully prepared for remote working yet. Employers are advised to enhance agility to embrace generational differences in experimenting new ways of work.


The Survey also reveals that there are some significant differences between Gen X and Gen Y in terms of their underlying motivations in contracting. Gen X is motivated by flexibility and work-life balance, while Gen Y is incentivised by salary and opportunities to join reputable organisations. Robert Walters advises employers to acknowledge and embrace this diversity of thought in the workplace and strive to build a harmonious working environment for everyone.

"In the past few months, we found more organisations in Hong Kong are hiring contractors to cope with headcount freezes and rapid market changes. It is therefore essential for employers to understand their motivations and challenges in adapting to the new normal, especially when different generations hold different thoughts in taking up a contract position," Ricky Mui, Managing Director of Robert Walters Hong Kong, commented. 

Contracting workforce not fully prepared for all demands on remote working

Remote working has been accelerated by COVID-19 and has been applied to contracting employees, with 75% of surveyed professionals saying their companies have adopted it in different forms. Once the concept of remote working was a much discussed, dreamed-of concept; now it has become the only option for a prolonged period and the contracting workforce of different generations is not fully prepared for its demands. Almost half of Gen X professionals feel it encroaches on their personal life, whereas nearly half of Gen Y group feel more empowered. However, they are facing some common challenges in structuring their working day and communicating with colleagues.

Employers are advised to offer flexible options according to an individual’s preference, and more guidance to contracting staff when working from home has to be enforced. Furthermore, productivity can no longer be measured by the number of hours a contractor is present in the workplace, but instead the quantity and quality of deliverables. New soft skills and performance assessment protocols will also be in-demand to ensure success for their people and the business.

Gen X motivated by flexibility and Gen Y incentivised by salary

The survey has shown Gen X and Gen Y are motivated differently when choosing to work as a contractor. Gen Y is mostly motivated by salary (48%) and tends to be attracted by reputable organisations (40%) and the opportunity to explore new skills (38%). Conversely, Gen X is attracted by flexibility (52%) and a better work-life balance (38%). It is recommended that companies tailor their recruitment process based on what appeals to each generation. In order to do so, the company’s employee value proposition needs to articulate and resonate with the motivations of different generations and be a two-way process to assess cultural fit and attract the best talent.

Employers to review impact on new collaboration tools to work-life balance

The use of collaboration tools, such as instant messaging, is blurring the line between work and personal life, especially when working remotely and there isn’t a physical divide between work and home. According to the Survey, most (Gen X: 80%, Gen Y: 63%) contractors accept the use of instant messengers outside office hours and are happy to respond. However, half of professionals prefer not to be contacted outside working hours. Business leaders are advised to respect personal time of employees, and restrain from instant messaging outside office hours with exceptional case for urgent and critical matters only.

About Robert Walters Hong Kong

The Robert Walters Group, founded in London in 1985, is a market-leading international specialist professional recruitment group with over 3,700 staff spanning 31 locations. Since establishment in Hong Kong in 1997, Robert Walters Hong Kong has been offering bespoke consultative service to clients of all sizes as well as candidates of all seniorities. We specialise in the placement of the highest calibre professionals across the disciplines of accounting & finance, financial services, human resources, legal & compliance, sales & marketing, secretarial & business support, supply chain, logistics & procurement and tech & transformation.

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Written by Markus Castro

A cat person by day and a writer by night. He loves to travel to his favorite destinations in Southeast Asia.

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