Demand for casuals increases

Almost 70% of casual workers surveyed by Humanforce report that in 2021 their work shifts have returned to or exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Only 27% of the casual workers surveyed report they are working less than prior to the pandemic.

Many employers, however, are said to be finding it hard to meet their staff requirements, with many casual workers turning down shifts due to the high demand.

“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 Humanforce founder and Managing Director Bruce Mackenzie.

“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. This is because a large number of casual workers are transient workers like international students or working holiday makers, and the pandemic and Australia’s border closure means there are less of these types of workers available right now.”

A further challenge

Another ongoing challenge for employers is going to be the stability of the already reduced casual worker pool.

According to Humanfroce, the sentiment following the impacts of the pandemic from workers themselves about the future of casual work is quite mixed.

Just under half of respondents (45%) maintain a positive view of their future in casual work. The rest said they are trying to leave casual work (13%) and are nervous about the long-term viability of their casual employer (11%).

Additionally, 85% of casual workers said that if they were offered a permanent role by their employer, they would take it.

“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 Mr Mackenzie.

“To ensure the ongoing stability and strength of their casual workforces, businesses will need to work hard to build up their employees’ confidence again. While the majority of casual workers – 61% – 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.”

The research findings showed some of the factors that could help employers attract and retain casual workers, including:

  • Flexibility (59%)
  • Stable income (43%)
  • Guaranteed shifts (62%)
  • Flexible shifts and hours (42%)
  • Training (34%)
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