Q&A: Mahesh Shahdadpuri: “We’ll soon see temporary staff in highly skilled roles”

Author: Criselda Diala-McBride | Date: 1 Mar 2017

The CEO of TASC Outsourcing says organisations are turning to fixed-term employees as a more cost-efficient strategy

Mahesh ShahdadpuriOrganisations across the GCC are waking up to the potential of temporary staffing to meet their businesses’ changing demands, according to Mahesh Shahdadpuri, CEO of Dubai-based TASC Outsourcing. This has become even more apparent during the past two years, as organisations feel the pinch of low oil prices.
 
Speaking to People Management, Shahdadpuri shares his perspective on the regional contract staffing industry, the factors affecting this segment’s growth, and what decision makers can do to make the “gig economy” viable.
What are the factors contributing to the temporary staffing industry’s growth?
I expect the GCC contract staffing industry to grow by about five to eight per cent in 2017, and the role of temporary staff will continue to evolve from low-skilled and secretarial jobs, to highly skilled roles.
 
Employers worldwide are facing the effects of economic headwinds, making cost optimisation and higher productivity the norm. At the same time, they want to cater to new business requirements, even if it is for the short term. Organisations greatly value the flexibility and cost efficiency that temporary staffing provides. They can respond efficiently to unexpected or temporary work demands, without adding to their long-term overheads, thus staying competitive.
 
The cost saving involved can be seen on two levels – firstly, the cost of employing temporary staff is often lower than permanent hiring. Secondly, the organisation is not liable to retain the staff once the work requirement has been met. On the other hand, organisations may wish to use this opportunity to adapt a ‘try before you buy’ approach and retain the employee after evaluating his or her performance.
 
Is flexible staffing really a long-term recruitment solution?
Definitely, for most organisations in the GCC. We are witnessing a change in the way businesses operate – there’s increased emphasis on innovation, and organisations are adopting a solutions-based approach rather than just offering products or services. As a result, project-based hiring is on the rise.
 
In addition to outsourcing statement-of-work-based (SOW) programmes, organisations are able to outsource entire project work. The expense of the entire project is kept variable and the outsourcing organisation takes ownership of not only the temporary staff but part of their work, depending on what’s agreed in the scope of work documents in the SOW programme.
 
And there is greater focus on maintaining leaner and agile teams, where non-core activities are outsourced. This trend of project-based hiring, SOW or outsourcing non-value-added activities will only increase as it brings efficiency, scalability and cost optimisation.
 
Do you see the "gig economy" as something that could take off in the Middle East one day?
While the gig economy is expected to employ one in three individuals in the United States, it is less prevalent in the GCC. The gig culture owes its popularity to growing digitisation, availability of freelance work and the rise of the millennial workforce. However, for it to work in the GCC there must be co-operation among governments in reforming labour laws for the gig economy. The UAE is a regional leader in taking active steps to improve the labour regulatory environment. With fast adoption of digitisation and the Internet of Things, there is a good chance that the gig economy could become viable in the near future.