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Non-employee labor a growing trend in work force

Summary of the AJC Article, “Non-employee labor a growing trend in work force.”

February 22, 2011

Recovering from the Great Recession does not mean business will bounce back and return to normal – fundamental changes must be made. In a quest to get back on their feet, businesses are turning to temporary labor at a higher rate.

Dan Campbell, founder and CEO of Hire Dynamics, states that staffing agencies have traditionally acted as shock absorbers of the economy. They are the first to get hit at the start of a recession, but are also the first to benefit in the earliest signs of recovery. 2009 was one of the toughest years for the staffing industry, but in the past 12 months, Hire Dynamics has seen a 25 percent growth in business and Campbell sees no signs of slowing down.

Campbell usually sees his temporary job postings leveling off as companies increased their permanent hiring of employees, but following this recession, he has noticed a new reality in the work force – just-in-time labor is a growing trend. We have shifted away from the Industrial Age model of doing business to an Informational Age model that is more adaptable to a fast-paced, fast-changing global market.

According to Yoh’s 2010 Annual Workforce Trends Study, 80 percent of employers expected the size of their non-employee work force to stay the same or increase in the next year. In addition, 63 percent of business leaders reported working on better ways to administer their non-employee work force sector.

Employers are saying that the recession has fundamentally changed their employment strategies, leading them to a “just-in-time” hiring approach that will make temporary employees an even greater asset to the economy.

Why are companies turning to temporary labor during this slow recovery period? Because it’s cheaper to hire temporary employees – companies are seeking more flexibility and less risk. They want the ability to hire talent on demand without the burden of full-time employment costs.

When the economy improves, contract jobs are expected to convert to permanent positions and staffing is going to be a larger and permanent sector of the work force. While the loss of benefits and job stability is a negative to many workers, there are some positives: it is believed to create a more diverse work force with people moving from department to department, company to company, gaining the knowledge and skills quicker than if they worked for the same employer for many years.

Campbell says another advantage is that it is much easier to find a part-time job in this economy. Being hired can be a real confidence booster and a way for people to build skills while waiting for the market to recover.

According to Campbell, there are two types of temporary work. The true temp-to-hire positions usually last about three to four months and allow workers and employers to find fit before an offer is made – much like a trial period. Longer temp positions [12 months or more] fill a specific need, such as interim CFO or project manager. These positions may come with benefits provided by either the employer or the staffing company that fills the position.

Campbell believes that in our changing work force, there isn’t a downside to taking temporary work. It’s all about building skills and experience and having the freedom to explore work in different arenas.

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