When I was working as a recruitment consultant in the early 90’s, the temporary desk was responsible for about 10% of the split between temporary recruitment and permanent recruitment. My MD who had been in the game for about 30 years predicted that within the next 30 years the temporary workforce would make up 30% of the total workforce.
A recent survey conducted by Adecco Group has found that 28.1% of the total workforces are temporary employees. So his prediction has come true but ten years earlier than he had anticipated. Of these temporary workers 25.2% are part time and a whopping 74.8% are full time. So why do companies use temps? A variety of reasons, but over a third use temps to manage demand fluctuations for products or services. Almost 30% use temps to manage their workforce more efficiently and 26% to cover workforce shortages.
The Adecco survey also confirms that size of the business will affect the use of temps. For example, 44.8% of firms with over 1000 employees will use temporary employees versus only 19% of businesses with a headcount under 65.
Now here is the problem – SMEs are behind the curve here and productivity is suffering as a result. For the vast majority of businesses, payroll costs are one of their highest expenses, yet I am concerned that this expense is not being effectively managed. When I have suggested getting a temp or looking at creating a more flexible workforce I often receive the response ‘by the time I get them up and running I may as well do it myself’. My thinking is that this is a very short term view, considering that temps we are hiring today are experienced individuals and not trainees. The organisations have tapped into a talent pool that gives flexibility and allows temps to pop in and out of their businesses as they need them.
My view is that my MD was not only right, but that this trend is going to continue to the point where it will be the exception rather than the norm to have a full time permanent role. The time of having the same job from hire to retire has gone; just think about the increase in redundancies – how many people have multiple experiences of their job being made redundant throughout their careers? The businesses that are able to transform their workforce mix to their advantage and tap into the right skills in the right place and the right time will get ahead. Remember it is all about employee matters!