Temporary employment is on the rise as companies beginning to grow again opt to hedge their bets. According to workplace consultant Lynn Taylor, author of "Tame Your TOT" (Terrible Office Tyrant), this trend offers advantages and hazards to employers and employees alike.
"Both sides have gotten what they wished for," Taylor tells Walletpop. "Employers wanted more agility in their workforce and employees eyed independence as a luxury."
A recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, said the recession has led more companies "to create just-in-time labor forces that can be turned on and off like a spigot." It quoted Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School: "Employers are trying to get rid of all fixed costs. "First they did it with employment benefits. Now, they're doing it with the jobs themselves" and in the process, pushing "all the risks...onto employees."
But Taylor disagrees with that assessment, as long as temps view themselves as "tempreneurs," a term Taylor created to describe those who seize the opportunity to control their own "career destiny" even if that requires compromise at times.
"Let's say you're a graphic designer, you've had long-term clients and that's how you exist," she says. "Maybe through a specialized temporary firm, you might accept lower-stature work to make ends meet. But overall that also means you're more fluid in the work you are willing to accept."
With those longer-term clients, she adds, "you might consider yourself more of the 'preneur'; if you get shorter stints, you might consider yourself more of a temp."
Employers may find the temps more on top of trends since they have to remain agile and have perhaps seen more facets of an industry through various temp assignments. Temps may find it easier to get assignments where they can work remotely, even from home, a particular advantage to Baby Boomers.
"There's age discrimination in the workforce, so the tempreneur has an advantage," Taylor says. "They don't have to offer the face time, go through a series of interviews and compete. It's a sad commentary in some respects, but it's a good situation for the tempreneur."
The balance of a temporary position relies on both sides having similar expectation and tips, she says, if the employee assumes the temp job will lead to something permanent or if the employer thinks a "tempreneur can be cajoled into working as a full-timer."
Both sides also have to be on best behavior. Employers have to watch how they treat tempreneurs "because they can walk, unlike a traditional employee who is tethered to your company," while the most successful temps, she says, "are diplomatic, basically nice people."
How to cope with a temp job: Become a "tempreneur"