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Temp Work – Pros and Cons of Temping

Learn the Pros and Cons of Temping

Twenty years ago — even 10 years ago — temp employees were a quick fix during busy work months or temporary coverage during illness, vacation or maternity leave. Today it’s safe to say that temps are essential to almost every American business.

Temp Work Defined

Temporary services, also known as the staffing industry, has evolved into something much larger than lugging boxes or answering phones. The business of supplying workers for specialized projects has blossomed into a $43 billion industry.

In the early 1980s, fewer than 600,000 Americans worked temp jobs. The National Association of Temporary and Staffing Services reports that figure rose to 2.5 million in 1997. The increase brings a wider variety of job opportunities, from secretaries and security guards to principals and paralegals.

Why has the temp industry and the disposable worker become one of the biggest and most important trends in American business? Because job security no longer exists. The idea of company loyalty is lost in today’s world of downsizing and shedding non-core competencies to compete in a global marketplace. Since workers no longer find security in their jobs, they must find it in themselves. The temp industry gives people the opportunity to use and improve their skills while moving from job to job.

Why Companies Love Temps

It should be obvious why businesses are so fond of temp workers: Money. Full-time employees mean much more than salary. The average benefits package equals 30 to 40 percent of an employee’s base income, so using temp workers — who don’t get benefits — cuts company costs drastically. Businesses also save money by not having to train employees. Temp agencies ensure the workers they send out have the necessary skills for a particular job. On the legal side, companies who use temps worry less about wrongful termination and harassment lawsuits. If a temp isn’t working out, a business can fire him and hire a new one.

One downside to disposable employees is privacy. Leaks regarding sensitive business material are always a concern. Temps, who lack company loyalty, may be more prone to disregard confidentially agreements.

Temping Pros and Cons

Companies aren’t the only ones to benefit from temp work. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys a flexible schedule and a varied work environment, temping may be the path for you. Temp work allows you to hone the skills you have — and learn new ones — while earning a wage that’s often comparable or higher to what you’d make as a full-time employee. And if permanent work is what you’re after, there’s always the possibility of landing a full-time job through a temporary assignment.

However, flexibility does have its price. Most temp workers don’t get the perks that come with full-time employment, like health insurance, paid vacations and a pension plan. (There are some temp agencies, like Wall Street Services and MacTemps, that offer benefits and training programs to long-term temps.) Temp workers also risk receiving shoddy treatment from supervisors or full-time co-workers. It may seem immature, but temps are often viewed as the outsider who’s not sticking around long enough to become part of the group.

Do You Have What it Takes?

Temp workers come in all shapes and sizes. See if you fit into any of these categories.

  • The Middle Manager.
    Lots of temp workers are middle-aged businesspeople who were outplaced during the recent downsizing epidemic.
  • The College Grad.
    Twenty-somethings having a tough time in the job market use temp agencies to make money and possibly find a job in their field. While agencies like Manpower deal with a variety of careers, many temp agencies specialize. For example, LegalTemps places everything from attorneys to file clerks, Accountemps finds work for finance professionals and TempArt works with illustrators and graphic designers.
  • The College Student.
    Temp agencies are a great way to test out a career before committing to it. Students also get real-world experience for their resumes and earn money to help with tuition.
  • The Retiree.
    Plenty of retired workers want something to do with their free time. So why not earn a little cash, too? There’s even a temp agency — Mature Temporaries of Akron, Ohio — that specializes in placing people who are over 50 into temp positions.
  • The "Family is More Important" Mom or Dad.
    Work does not equal Life for everyone. Temp work allows parents to earn an income but have a schedule that allows them to be home when their children are home and take family vacations in accordance to the school calendar.

So, if you have marketable skills and a go-with-the-flow attitude, temp work may be your calling. Find a job now >>

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