Portfolio Career mitigates redundancy risk promotes job prospects

‘White Paper’ cites major changes in post Covid-19 world

Venkat Raman
Auckland, June 7, 2020

Hnry Chief Executive James Fuller (Picture Courtesy: Massey University)

FinTech company Hnry (pronounced Henry) has released a White Paper on New Zealand’s independent earning trends.

This is stated to the first of its kind in the country.

Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown have changed the landscape around employment and ways of working and hence, independent earning, freelancing and contracting have become more prevalent than ever before as people look to find new ways to make income.

The White Paper, titled,  ‘The Future of Independent Earning’ is the key study into the trends and emerging opportunities of independent earning undertaken.

Major findings

Its main findings include a move towards dynamic workplaces which are a flexible and reactive mix of both permanent staff and contractors or freelancers; the rise of the ‘Portfolio Career, where independent earners have multiple skills they can use to generate income, and the need for a focus on wellbeing initiatives for independent earners, freelancers and contractors.

 

Hnry Chief Executive James Fuller said that New Zealand workplaces are rapidly discovering the benefits of having a dynamic workforce with a mix of traditionally-employed workers alongside independent contractors.

He said that many organisations were forced by the Covid-19 pandemic to reconsider their resourcing requirements given that remote working was becoming the norm.

They subsequently found that they were able to be more adaptive, reactive and productive in a changed working environment.

(From ‘The Future of Independent Earning’ White Paper)

Bridging skill gaps

“Hiring independent earners alongside permanent staff allows organisations to quickly bridge skills gaps and operate more productively and cost-effectively,” Mr Fuller said.

The White Paper also found an increase in Portfolio Careers, where independent earners have several skill-sets they can leverage to earn income. It found skill diversity as an approach to finding work, reduces overall risk for independent earners and allows them to pivot more quickly towards areas of demand.

“During the pandemic, when many individuals (self-employed and otherwise) found themselves without work, the importance of a ‘Portfolio Career’ was made clear. De-risking future income sources became more critical, and those individuals that embraced a ‘Portfolio’ approach were able to find work elsewhere, leveraging a broad set of their skills to ensure continued income during the pandemic,” the White Paper said.

Mitigating employees’ risk

Mr Fuller said that having a single employer was like “putting all your eggs in one basket,” and effectively tied individuals’ income to the ongoing sustainability of one single organisation – a certain risk if that organisation is impacted by something like Covid-19.

“So many ‘permanent’ employees were let go during the pandemic, and they all had to quickly find other ways of earning – a Portfolio Career helps individuals to reduce the risk, and not be solely dependent on one single source of income,” he said.

The wellbeing of independent earners is also covered in the report, with the basic needs of all workers, permanent or contingent, being identified as “getting appropriate compensation, a well-defined work/life balance, as well as opportunities for continued growth and development throughout their careers.”

Belonging, esteem and community were identified as further needs of successful workers, with the paper concluding that it is imperative for government and organisations to put measures in place addressing these needs for everyone, for the good of society at large.

With 15% to 20% of Kiwis now earning some form of income outside of permanent employment, this is vitally important, Mr Fuller said.

Holistic approach needed

He said that the government should support the needs of individuals, which are different to those of ‘small business’ – a call backed by the paper’s findings.

According to the White Paper, the basis for this change towards a more holistic approach to employment…must come from how the government characterises self-employed individuals, being more aware that there is a big difference between an ‘independent earner’ and ‘small business.’

Mr Fuller said this means the government should implement a shift, with independent earners’ needs and wellbeing front of mind rather than assuming every individual is a small business.

To date, a majority of support has been on the basis that people are small businesses employing staff and operating as ‘small companies,’ whereas most ‘small businesses’ are actually sole traders operating as individuals.

Promoting self-employment

Hnry, which takes care of financial administration for independent earners, has been in talks with several government agencies and the Minister for Small Business to provide information and advice on the self-employed marketplace in New Zealand and is raising awareness of the issues and challenges being faced by independent earners to ensure they are treated fairly and in line with the level of contribution they make to the country’s economy.

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