Since Russell Kelly created the first temporary staffing agency in 1946, offering the services of his famous “Kelly Girls” for clerical and secretarial work, the popularity of “temps” has steadily increased. Temporary employees can be a huge boon to businesses that are rapidly expanding, have fluctuating production requirements, or need a specialized skill set on a limited basis. But there are also drawbacks to temporary employees. What are the pros and cons of temps vs. permanent employees? Which type of employee is right for your business?
Pros of Temporary Employees:
1. Immediate Availability
If you need help right away and you don’t have time to recruit, sift through resumes, and hold interviews, then you should probably turn to a temp agency. They’ve already done the work of finding and vetting staff – all you have to do is pick up the phone and call.
2. No Wasted Hours
If you only need help for a certain amount of hours, or for a few weeks at a time, then a temp is an excellent choice. Instead of paying full-time wages, you can hire someone for exactly the time period and tasks you need done.
3. Effective Trial Periods
If you hire an employee on a temporary basis, you can “try them out” for a position that could be converted to full-time employment. If you like the employee, you can offer them a regular job. If their performance is mediocre, you can terminate the contract without worrying about the hassle of firing, severance, or unemployment claims.
4. Specialized Skillsets
When you think of a temp, you probably imagine some useless kid like Ryan from The Office, but the truth is that nowadays highly skilled professionals are available as temporary employees. If you need help with a high-skill project, but only on a limited or sporadic basis, then consider taking advantage of temporary labor.
5. High Productivity
You might assume a temporary employee would be less productive than a full-time employee, but in fact the opposite is true. In an extensive study conducted by Vox examining labor markets from 1985-2008, economists found that when deregulation allowed for more temporary employment, employment as a whole increased and the GDP per employed person (a key indicator of productivity) likewise increased. Far from being less efficient, temporary employees are actually highly productive and successful workers.
Cons of Temporary Employees:
1. Training Requirements
The more temporary employees you hire, the more new people you will have to train. You can ameliorate some of this difficulty by hiring the same temps as often as possible, but there will always be an investment of time and personnel to get your temporary employees up to speed.
2. Safety Issues
Because even highly skilled temporary employees are not familiar with your specific work environment, the frequency and severity of on-the-job accidents is higher with temps. As mentioned above, proper training is crucial for temporary employees.
3. Lack of Teamwork
Temporary employees often do not have time to integrate with your full-time employees, and regular employees may be resentful of interlopers, or hesitant to invest the time in employees who won’t be around for long. There is no easy way to build camaraderie, so temps might be best suited to positions that don’t require extensive collaboration.
4. Legal Issues
There are specific guidelines for hiring temporary employees, and you need to follow the rules or risk a lawsuit. A temporary employee cannot be treated as a full-time employee minus the benefits.
Temporary employees can be highly beneficial to your business, but only if you do your homework and follow the rules. Temporary employees are a specific category, separate from part-time employees or independent contractors. When used appropriately, temporary employees can save your company time and money while boosting your productivity with new skills, fresh dynamics, and new ideas.
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