Contingency workers are all the rage -- they now account for about 25% of the total U.S. workforce. But are they right for your company? Managing Contingent Workers: How to Reap the Benefits and Reduce the Risks, by Stanley Nollen and Helen Axel (AMACOM, 1996, $55), offers a much less sanguine view of the trend than you'll read in most business magazines. Many CEOs just assume that contingency workers are cost-effective, but Nollen and Axel urge readers to weigh the wage benefits against potentially negative effects on productivity and performance, and they provide some useful formulas to help determine the true cost-effectiveness of an "on call" workforce. There's also a chapter on all the legal mumbo jumbo you need to know before you jump onto the contingency-workforce bandwagon.

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