With the nation is an economic logjam and firms skittish to make a commitment to full-time employees, temporary and contract workers are an attractive option for firms of all sizes.
There are also many options when it comes to temporary worker skill sets. A small firm today can bolster its staff with a two-week receptionist or a six-month chief financial officer.
“The staffing industry employs people across all industries and all levels from scientific professions to C-suite executives and blue collar workers,” says Richard Wahlquist, president and CEO of the American Staffing Association in Alexandria, Va. “Small firms often don’t consider tapping into staffing agencies but they could bring someone in to develop a new business plan or help with accounting. Those much-needed skills sets might be at a higher level than a small business could justify putting on a payroll on a permanent basis.”
Jennifer Folsom, the director of staffing firm Momentum with offices in Richmond, Va., and Washington, has seen her company undergo a major growth this year because the demand for non-salaried workers is so high. Momentum, which was founded with the idea to place professionals in more flexible positions in order to achieve a better work-life balance, started out two years ago with the idea they’d place workers with 50% contract placement and 50% permanent placement. In 2009, it’s been 95% contract, says Folsom.
MindFarm CEO Andrea Fuller also has seen her two-year-old business skyrocket during the recession. She places high-level professionals who are looking for short-term, flexible arrangements. Her firm also has seen revenues jump – 130% more than this time last year. She attributes that partly to the great demand for workforce flexibility.
The temp arrangement can work out on “both sides of the equation,” she says, referring to benefits to both workers and a workplace.
By tapping into the talents of a staffing firm, small businesses could be doing themselves a favor, says Wahlquist. “Hiring and recruiting generally are not core competencies of small business owners. They are in the business of providing goods and services, not hiring.”
Here are some staffing tips:
Try Before You Buy. Folsom says the temporary arrangement can give someone out of work a chance to try out a job while an employer can see if it’s a right fit for them. As Folsom says: “If you get stuck with a mediocre full-time employee, it’s tough to get rid of them.”