Transitioning from a full-time to contingent workforce

'We're going to see a trend towards more part-time options,' says expert

Transitioning from a full-time to contingent workforce

With the rise of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI), many banks will be looking at laying off traditional full-time workers.

And that means the next step is a trend towards alternative work arrangements, according to Janine Lang, CEO of Agile Business Planning, in talking with Canadian HR Reporter.

“What I mean by that is giving employees the option to not just work the traditional, full-time employee job. We're going to see a trend towards more part-time options, and also employees becoming contingent workers.”

And this is already happening in different workplaces, she says, “as employers just couldn't find talent with the global talent shortage. What we're seeing is retired and restless employees coming back to the workforce on contract basis.”

And many workers are looking to continue working past their retirement age, according to a previous report. Also, offering older employees the option of semi-retirement is a smart way for organizations to manage labour shortages, according to another report.

“The really visionary employers are going to see this trend and recognize the opportunity to offer some of their talent the opportunity to set themselves up as contingent workers, independent contractors, consultants, so that they can choose what work they do when they do it, where they do it and have the ultimate flexibility,” says Lang.

Reskilling, upskilling employees

Recently, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) received federal approval to proceed with its acquisition of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC). And RBC would be closing 25 HSBC Canada branches and rebranding dozens more after its takeover.

In January, multinational bank Citigroup will be laying off 20,000 employees over the next two years as it posted its worst quarter in 15 years.

It’s also important for the employer to reskill and upskill workers, she says.

“Some of the jobs are going to change as these banks are moving towards greater automation, and there's that demand for certain roles. So there will need to be some reskilling.”

Ottawa is investing $2.4 billion to support AI use in Canada.

Lang also suggests that the employer offer training to help workers gain entrepreneurial skills so they can be contractors, while still providing services to the employer.

“If they're going to set themselves up as contractors, independent consultants, those banks – knowing what we do about how they like to manage risk – they'll want to make sure those employees are doing that properly. Because if they're contracting their services back to the bank, they'll need to make sure that they're complying with the rules around that,” she says.

“So it's in the interest of the banks to make sure that they're helping their employees who want to become part of the contingent workforce in the gig economy to do that properly.”

Preparing people for contingent work

When it comes to preparing workers to be contingent workers in the gig economy, employers should focus on workers’ readiness, says Lang.

“It's really about making sure they've got the right mindset, making sure they're clear about that compelling ‘why’ they're starting the business, what their business idea is, and making sure they've got a goal for what that business will look like. And then just some effective planning.”

In the fourth quarter of 2022, 2.4 million Canadians had done a form of gig work in the previous 12 months, according to a previous Statistics Canada (StatCan) report.

This approach will be beneficial to employers, she says.

“How you treat your employees through that transition will determine really your reputation.

“If you have not treated your employees humanely, it also has implications for the talent that's left behind, because how you treat those employees impacts the remaining workers.”

And in the process, employers win workers’ loyalty, says Lang.

“In other words, there'll be building a loyal [talent] pool who will continue to want to go to them.”

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