Contract labor: The hidden benefits and opportunities for employees
Earlier this week, my colleague attempted to dispel common misconceptions about the contingent workforce. Joel did a great job explaining the truth of the relationship between temporary workers, professional staffing suppliers, and the companies utilizing contingent labor. Today, though, I’d like to expand a bit on the benefits that contract labor offers companies and employees alike.
Despite increasing confidence in the economy, many companies are still wary to increase the size of their full-time staff. In fact, many would probably choose not to hire at all, or at least hire less, if they didn’t have alternatives such as contingent labor.
And if you asked a contractor or temp if they would rather have no job or a good temporary job, I would bet that they’d take a good assignment any day of the week.
For some people, though, temporary employment isn’t a last resort. Throughout my career, I’ve come across a good number of “career or serial contractors” who choose contract engagements for the variety of experience and exposure it provides. I’ve met many IT and software engineers in particular who aren’t looking for a full time gig. They prefer temporary work assignments for the assortment of projects and opportunity to build a diverse and constantly in-demand skill set.
Temp labor can also be beneficial to educated but inexperienced workers trying to decide just what direction they want their career to take. Contract engagements provide an opportunity to try out different types of work and build a professional network. And in many cases, project work is the foot in the door that leads to full-time employment.
For some companies, project work is an alternative to offshoring and outsourcing in order to find qualified talent and maintain project visibility, control and protection of intellectual property. Already many U.S. companies are shifting employment overseas. Keeping in mind the United States’ 8.8 percent unemployment rate, would you rather keep those jobs in the U.S. as contract positions, or continue to send them abroad?
The debate about the use of contingent labor likely won’t end anytime soon, especially with companies incorporating non-employees as a more permanent component of their workforce compositions.
But it’s important to recognize and understand that temporary labor isn’t about companies cheating employees out of fair wages and benefits and boosting profits. Contract work provides opportunities and benefits to professionals and companies alike.