Kevin Kruse, Contributor
Serial Entrepreneur, Author Employee Engagement 2.0
6/27/2012 @ 9:35AM |14,025 views
Ten years ago, Dan Pink wrote a seminal book predicting that America was becoming a “Free Agent Nation.” Today, depending on whose statistics you believe, anywhere from 10 million to 42 million people in America are now freelancers. Or choose your preferred term: Temps. Contractors. Freelancers. Contingent Workers. Independent Professionals.
No matter what you call them, businesses today are getting stuff done with non-permanent talent who have some serious chops. In fact, Harvard Business Review recently reported that 58 percent of companies plan to use temporary employees at all levels over the next few years, and according to the American Staffing Association, U.S. staffing companies employed an average of 2.8 million temporary and contract workers per day in 2011.
If the picture you get in your head when you hear “temp” is of a really young, really old, or unskilled person who comes in to sit at the front desk when your admin is away, it’s time for you to shake the cobwebs out of your mind. There is an army of temps out there today who are actually super-skilled ninjas with advanced skills and strong work ethic.
Need a CEO? There’s a temp for that. Need an iOS developer? There’s a temp for that. Need a _______? Yep, you kind find a temp.
Many staffing pros will turn to online directories of freelance talent, while others rely on specialty firms to source top temp talent. Aquent, a marketing, creative and digital staffing firm, places people on temporary and temp-to-perm assignments at some of the world’s largest brands. Aquent’s temporary talent develop mobile apps, deliver insights to improve marketing performance, and engage and build communities of customers and prospects on a growing list of social media platforms.
There are many obvious advantages to hiring temps: they fill temporary vacancies, support overstretched full-time workers, flex your workforce during spurts of growth. But these traditional reasons are often thought of as a reactive tactic to business demands.
I humbly suggest that a temporary workforce be considered proactively as part of your ongoing Super Human Capital strategy for these reasons:
- Specialized expertise, quick ramp-up. Some projects require a person with experience that you just don’t have in-house. An experienced temporary employee often needs less ramp-up time than a permanent hire, which allows you and your team to get those projects that needed to be done yesterday, done today.
- Fresh perspectives. How many times have you heard a new employee – temp or perm – say, “Well at my last job we did …”? New talent brings new ideas to your organization. Your temp may have spent time as a full-time employee at a marquee brand and that experience could mean success for your next project.
- Temps make great full-time staff. A group of top individual contributors who just can’t work well together is a recipe for disaster. If you’ve got a contractor working for you on a project, you have time to evaluate if they might fit with your team as a permanent employee. At the same time, they have the benefit of understanding what the position is really all about and get a full sense of your company’s culture and values.
Temporary employees are here to stay – and that can have a positive impact on the satisfaction of your full-time, internal team.
Aquent President, Ann Webster, sums it up succinctly, “The key is to have a well thought-out contingent workforce strategy. Determine what functions and skillsets are ‘must-haves’ in-house and then leverage experienced external resources for much of the rest.”