How The Defence Industry Workforce Wants To Work, And Why

By Sophie Richards on 10 November 2021

How The Defence Industry Workforce Want To Work, And Why | Kinexus Blog Image

​Kinexus has surveyed the defence industry workforce since 2005 and publish the results in the Defence Industry Insights. The latest edition, our eighth, is available now to download.

Most recently, this survey took place in April 2021 and it is through these results that we gather unique insight into the sentiment, intentions and mood of the defence industry workforce.

The years 2020 and 2021 have fundamentally changed the way we work. Questions reflecting this were asked in the 2021 survey. The answers to these questions can help to truly understand the workforce at large, allowing for more targeted value propositions, attraction and retention strategies and career trajectories.


Contract vs permanent work

Confidence across defence industry is at an all time high. There is also more work available now than ever before. When these two factors coincide, we tend to see a trend towards more contracting.

This chart shows the opinion of the respondents when asked ‘What is your preferred method of employment?’

Chart showing ideal method of employment, contract or permanent

With 76% responding that permanent work (either part or full time) is their preference, this reflects the proportion of the workforce currently in permanent work. This will be closely monitored in future surveys.

Why contract or permanent?

Those who answered ‘permanent full time’ gave reasons largely associated with stability, certainty and security. Also mentioned was having the opportunity to be responsible for delivering strategic outcomes, it being the simplest way to manage a particular stage of a career, and feeling more accepted by team members.

Those whose ideal work arrangement is ‘contract work – as close to full time as possible’ spoke about flexibility or being independent as the primary reason, as well as being able to select the type of work, increased remuneration and that contract roles provide an opportunity to get exposure to new technologies and diverse processes.

Those whose preferred arrangement is part time (contract or permanent) state work life balance and having more time to spend with family as their primary motivator to this type of employment.

Flexibility is the main theme among those who don’t have a preference between permanent and contract, some of which have tried both in their careers, and some who see the plus side of both so consider either.

At home or in the office

In recognition of the changing employment market due to COVID-19, the 2021 survey asked ‘Many defence industry workers have reported an increase in flexible work arrangements since the beginning of the pandemic. If given the choice, what would your ideal work arrangement be?’

This chart shows the responses to that question.

Chart showing ideal work arrangement, work from home or in the office

It is perhaps not surprising that the majority of respondents want to retain the flexibility many have become used to over the last 18 months.

When we asked ‘How many days per week would you ideally like to work from home?’ these results showed that 60% of respondents wanted to work from home either two or three days per week.

Chart showing ideal number of days working from home

Employee Value Proposition

As the defence industry worker shortage continues, many organisations are crafting their employee value propositions and looking at what they can offer their workers in addition to salary, it is important to consider what contributes to job satisfaction.

Chart showing Job satisfaction

What is clear from the 2021 survey is that flexibility, or work life balance, is of primary importance. In fact, flexible work, both in work hours and location, is a benefit that has transitioned from appreciated to expected by many defence industry workers. For many, it is no longer a nice-to-have. Employers should find a way to offer this to keep pace with workforce expectations and the industry at large.


About Kinexus

Kinexus is a defence industry focused recruitment and workforce strategy company. We support the Commonwealth, primes, SMEs and consultancies by providing them with security-cleared engineering and ICT workers.

Further insight is available in Kinexus’ Defence Industry Insights – Eighth Edition – download it now for free.

For additional insight and to explore what the data means for your defence industry organisation, get in contact with our consultants today.

Defence Industry Insights | Eighth Edition

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