An article in the New York Times suggests that employers and employees alike might be moving toward a temporary-centric staffing model.
In November 2010, 80% of the 50,000 jobs created in the private sector were temporary positions. For all of 2010, a bit more than 26% of 1.17 million jobs were temporary positions. That’s a lot.
What are we to make of such high numbers of temporary positions? There are, I think, two possibilities:
1. What we are seeing is a standard trend of a recovering economy. In past recessions, a jump in temporary hiring has always preceded a steady rise in long-term hiring. Overall economic growth for 2010 was 2.9%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis – a good number, to be sure.
If growth in the next few years remains steady or improves, it’s just a matter of time, some would say, before employers start creating more full-time positions.
2. We are witnessing the beginning of a long-term trend toward more temporary employment. (And that’s across the board: blue collar, office, and highly skilled and specialized workers.)
Even before the recession, employers were getting skittish about the high healthcare costs associated with full-time employees.
In addition, work in general was becoming more project-based, demanding fewer full-time project managers and more temporary teams of workers.
Advances in staffing software have also enabled employers to better predict their employment needs, leading them to cut down on expensive full-time hires.
In short, the recession pushed employers to a new staffing model: hire a minimum amount of full-time workers and use staffing agencies and independent contractors as needed to fill out the rest of the workforce.
Which of these is correct? Only time will tell, of course. If we see economic growth surge past 4% in 2011, the competition for qualified workers will force employers to make more full-time offers. If growth hovers between 2.5% and 3.5%, expect temporary employment to account for a large number of new jobs.
My guess is that there’s something else that’s changing in the larger workforce. More people – especially highly skilled people – are opting for a freelance, independent contractor lifestyle.
The growth of information technology and sophisticated telecommunications makes it easier than ever to work from home (or the coffee shop, library, or any place with an Internet connection), which in turn makes it easier, if you have skills that are in demand, to broker yourself out to multiple employers.
If that’s the case, then temporary employment will be on the rise for many years to come.
But my guess is just that – a guess. There simply are no good statistics available on independent contracting. You can be sure, though, that I’ll be keeping my eye on – and commenting on – employment statistics as they come out.
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Standard economic wisdom says that the real estate industry leads the way out of recession. This time, though, I think the healthcare sector might be taking real estate’s place.
Based on recent numbers, staffing analysts are saying that demand for nurses and other health professionals has increased by almost 50 percent over the previous quarter, accelerating a trend that has been going on all year. A recent report from The Conference Board, an international economic think tank, noted that online healthcare job listings posted the largest gain of any other economic sector in October – over 26,000 more jobs, in fact. The report also states that health care vacancies outnumber job seekers 2 to 1.
This is good news for healthcare professionals, to be sure, but I am always wondering: What does this mean for staffing professionals?
According to Mary Kay Hull, Vice President of Recruitment for American Traveler, a large travel nurse job agency headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, greater demand and tighter budgets have led more healthcare employers to turn to staffing agencies like American Traveler than ever before. Hull encourages hospitals and other large healthcare institutions to form good relationships with healthcare staffing agencies so that they remain full and competently staffed for the long term.
My question: do healthcare institutions have the staffing software to keep up with the complications of having full-time, part-time, contract, and agency employees all on the same payroll? Do they have staffing software that can help them make long-range staffing plans that minimize turnover and maximize efficiency? If so, does the staffing software have the requisite flexibility to make one-time and longer-term changes as unforeseen events and budget changes arise?
In other words, do human resources professionals at large healthcare institutions have the staffing software they need to meet the employment needs of the institution? If they don’t, they may end up with perpetual problems like over-staffing, under-staffing, and using staffing agencies only to mitigate crises – not to mention financial problems from an inefficient use of human resources.
Visit the eEmpACT staffing resources section for more about staffing software and other tools for improving human capital management.
Since I looked back at 2010 in a recent post, I’ll look ahead in this one. And I’ll admit, reading U.S. News and World Report’s annual “50 Best Careers” list got me thinking about staffing challenges and staffing solutions in the year ahead.
According to the article, just about any healthcare position – especially those involving direct care, including massage therapists and dental hygienists – is a safe career bet in 2011. Not surprisingly, technology-related positions will continue to be “hot careers” – although some may be surprised to see “meteorologist” and “hydrologist” alongside “biomedical engineer” and a handful of computer-related positions on U.S. News’ list. Business professionals like financial analysts and public relations specialists are expected to be in demand, along with a smattering of other workers (including translators, technical writers, and court reporters).
So what does this mean for the staffing world?
At least three things:
1. Healthcare institutions need to develop strong staffing solutions. If they don’t, they will – as I noted in a recent blog post – face (potentially expensive) pitfalls like overstaffing, understaffing, and relying too much on soon to retire workers. A strong solution includes 1) comprehensive, long-term, metrics-based planning that minimizes workforce duplication and 2) top-notch software that streamlines hiring, firing, and every employment category in between.
2. Companies should develop good relationships with staffing agencies. If U.S News is right, finding computer-related help won’t always be easy, and these days, we all depend on computers and the internet to do our jobs. A staffing agency that works with technology professionals will be able to find that programmer or network technician in less time than it takes to start and complete a typical search for an employee. Given that a lot of computer tasks are temporary in nature – for example, setting up an internal network or moving a software program to the cloud – using staffing agencies for contract-based technical staffing solutions makes a lot of sense.
3. Companies should evaluate (or re-evaluate) their staffing needs for 2011. As regular readers of this blog will know, this is one of the big themes, if not the big theme, of my working life. In my experience, companies with a human capital supply chain plan – even one that isn’t well-developed – do better than those who don’t. Developing a workforce plan takes work, but it almost always results in short-term and long-term cost savings as well as happier, more efficient employees. More to the point: staffing professionals should read the U.S. News article (and other employment forecasts, like the one from Moody’s Analytics) and apply its predictions to their own situations.
I’ll add this: staffing professionals also need to be flexible in 2011. The economy could perform better or worse than expected, and jobs that defy easy labels may suddenly demand to be filled. As I wrote in my book, a long-term staffing solution is essential for the health of any business, but it should never be implemented too rigidly.
Visit the eEmpACT staffing resources section for more about staffing solutions, staffing software, and other tools for improving human capital management at http://www.eempact.com.