Should Swiss companies build an alternative workforce
Should Swiss companies build an 'alternative' workforce?

Should Swiss companies build an 'alternative' workforce?

Switzerland has been consistently ranked one of the most stable and safest countries to live in. The quality of life is excellent. Taxes are low. Salaries are decent. Overall, Switzerland is an ideal place to work.

2 September 2020

The quality of companies found in Switzerland to work for is also excellent. Swiss companies punch well above their weight internationally. In part, this is due to their ability to hire and retain the best talent. They have become experts at making their employees feel at home with attractive employment packages to suit.

The importance that Switzerland’s top companies place on talent, means that there is constantly a shortage of talent. This has led to some companies exploring whether an ‘alternative’ workforce is needed to give them more flexibility.

What is an ’alternative’ workforce?

Swiss companies remain strongly focused on hiring and retaining high-quality talent. However, adding an ‘alternative’ workforce could give them a tremendous amount of dynamism and flexibility as they enter the digital age.

Freelance work, temporary work, contract projects, and gig work are typically associated with the ‘alternative’ workforce. These types of jobs were not previously considered attractive to many employees as full-time employment offers greater security and other additional benefits.

However, times are changing. The disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic has led many workers to reassess their work-life balance. The lockdown gave them a taste of the benefits of flexible working and working from home.

The rise of hybridized roles

Many of the workers that are entering the ‘alternative’ workforce were full-time employees previously. They are often highly skilled and can easily return to full-time employment because there is a strong demand for their talent. Often these workers take on a hybridized role, which is a mixture of part-time work and self-employment.

It is a style of working that is less secure and has fewer benefits than the attractive full-time employment packages that they previously had. However, due to the strong demand for what they do, these risks are not considered by themselves to be hugely significant. The benefit to them is that they have more flexibility in their work, a greater variety of tasks, and unlimited earning potential.

The only constraint they have is on how much work they choose to take on and how much they charge for their services. These workers find being part of an ‘alternative’ workforce in Switzerland extremely empowering.

The ‘alternative’ workforce is set to expand

Globally, many large companies increasingly see the 'alternative' workforce as a strategic asset. In Deloitte's 2018 Global Human Capital Trend study, 33% of companies reported that they were extensively using alternative arrangements for IT, while 25% reported the same for operations, 15% for marketing, and 13% in finance.

This is a trend that is set to grow. In the European Union, freelances are the fastest-growing labor group according to a report by Morgan Stanley (“The Gig Economy Goes Global”, 4 June 2018). Plus, according to Deloitte's 2018 Millennial Study, 64% of full-time workers would like to side-hustle to make some extra money.

Meanwhile, for companies, this offers a chance to fill open positions. It also adds more depth and scale to the job market, which companies can hire from.

However, there are still some significant challenges. Many companies will need to completely rewire the way they operate so that they can work efficiently with an ‘alternative’ workforce. This can take time to implement. However, in many instances, HR teams are stepping up to the challenge: the advantages of having an ‘alternative’ workforce are too hard to ignore.

The ‘alternative’ workforce will naturally evolve

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to act as a catalyst. When many of us return to the office, flexibility and remote working will become an important part of our working lives. Eventually, we will have the option to weave flexibility into our job contracts. This will allow us to choose when, where, and how much we want to work. We might even have the flexibility to have multiple employers, rather than just one.

Good technology and strategic communication are helping this type of work environment evolve. It’s likely that Swiss companies will embrace this change. It will help them achieve an optimal mix of talent, which will allow them to compete even more aggressively on the world stage.

Therefore, Swiss companies do not need to build an ‘alternative’ workforce. An ‘alternative’ workforce is already being built for them by the natural evolution of the job market.

Luca Semeraro

Head of Badenoch & Clark
Zurich, Switzerland

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