Expert Perspective from Grahall’s OmniMedia Editorial Board
In his April 19, 2010 article for the New York Times (Recession Adds to Appeal of Short-Term Jobs) Michael Luo says: “The notion that the nature of work is changing — becoming more temporary and project-based, with workers increasingly functioning as free agents and no longer being governed by traditional long-term employer-employee relationships — first gained momentum in the 1990s. But it has acquired new currency in this recession, especially among white-collar job seekers, as they cast about for work of any kind and companies remain cautious about permanent hiring.”
So with companies cautious about hiring permanent employees and workers struggling to find paying jobs, what can these two groups do to find the perfect match?
For employers there are a few preliminary steps that will help:
1) Identify the key positions in your company. Certain jobs are mission critical to the success of your organization and your people strategy should reflect and protect these positions. It is wise to consider the importance of each position to the overall success of your business strategy before assigning that role to a temporary employee. A rule of the “business jungle” (which goes double for Human Resources) is that you never outsource your critical organizational competencies. Many contingent workers have cobbled together assignments, and that temporary worker to whom you are entrusting information about your customers or your “secret formula” might also be working for your largest competitor.
2) Conduct a thorough analysis around the cost and quality of outsourcing. Consider all reasonable alternatives and assess cost, quality, experience and commitment. Again, in these times, free agents may appear capable of playing multiple positions, like a utility infielder. But what is their true area of expertise? Seek the advice of knowledgeable consultants to evaluate alternatives for large outsourcing projects and ensure that contractual agreements are written to protect your interests and your privacy. At the same time going to court is usually the last effort anyone wishes to pursue. An ounce of prevention is better, they say, than a pound of cure.
3) When hiring contingent workers conduct thorough background checks. If you don’t have the resources to do this, you can use a service such as Grahall’s Workforce Solutions in the Human Resources function to give you confidence that the people you are bringing in are qualified to do the job. Double check employment law to ensure you aren’t tripped up by any regulations that could result in temporary workers being classified by the Department of Labor as permanent employees.
4) Get data and other information on availability of qualified workers. Establish a set of expectations and objectives for each position or assignment and have that included as part of the service agreement.
Although there is a feast or famine aspect to beginning a temporary or contingent worker assignment, this type work arrangement can be attractive. Within reason you can determine the overall amount of work you take on in any particular time period.
What should the new temporary worker do to make the most of his/her “free agent” status?
1) In addition to local and on-site assignments, recognize that you can potentially compete for jobs anywhere. With internet access and some ubiquitous communication tools, you can work with companies anywhere in the world without ever leaving your home.
2) Contingent workers offer enormous efficiency for companies and it can be efficient for you if you are flexible and have great multi-tasking skills. Most important is that you must deliver results, not just effort. Check in regularly to make sure you are on target with expectations and providing the anticipated service.
3) Recognize that your temporary employer won’t provide career development and training opportunities. You need to be your own advocate for this. You must train yourself and find ways to improve your skills.
4) Consider creating your own LLC or other company entity. There are many benefits to formalizing your role as a contractor under a company ‘umbrella’. Just a few of these include tax benefits for filing as a company, plus branding & marketing your services via a business web site and email address.
5) If you are a Human Resources professional join a jobs network like Grahall’s Workforce Solutions and get the most assignments for the skills you offer.
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