You have a project that needs doing, but it's not simple and no one on your staff has the skills. It's only one project, though, so you don't want to hire someone full time, have them leave their current job and then be jobless after six or twelve months. It's unfair to them. (And if you mislead them about the nature of the job, you could violate the law.)
Temps as a solution. John Mahony, COO of Kavaliro, says that temps can be a tremendous help to your company. These aren't the temps of yesterday that you hired to type some things or get you caught up on your filing. These are high level IT (and other) professionals, who can come in and do a serious level of technical work for your company.
"We have clients that work projects a month, six months, or 5 or six years, contingent, no liability for the company," Mahony says. While employment in almost all of the United States is "at-will" meaning that companies can terminate employees for any reason or no reason (except for things specifically prohibited by law, such as race), in reality, most companies don't follow that pattern. They have strict protocols for terminations. This is a great thing, but it can be expensive. Hiring temps allows you to circumvent that process.
Isn't that unfair to the employee? Mahony concedes that some of his company's placements are looking for a "permanent" placement but that in many companies, such as Microsoft or Apple, temp jobs are the only way in the door. But, he says, "When it come to the IT based work for, there's a mix. Some individuals want a permanent job," but that some people like the temp jobs "because the money is really good. I think a lot of people coming out of school know that they'll work at 10, 12, or 15 different companies. So, temping with contracts isn't that different, and you can expect to make more money on a project basis than at a permanent job."
Keep aware of the law. Some industries have pretty strict rules about the amount of time you can work as a contractor, in order to keep in legal compliance. (And, in fact Microsoft lost a very prominent lawsuit regarding long term temporary employees.) In order to keep on the right side of the law, the finance and power industries in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Kavaliro is headquartered, companies have tenure limits. Temporary IT people often take jobs lasting up to two years, and then have to take a break, so that they don't violate both company policy or have the company violate the law. "When their eligibility is there again, they come back," Mahony explains, "And I think they do that because they can make more over two years than they could as a regular employee, even if they take a six month break."
Is this the wave of the future? Temporary hiring is definitely on the rise, and not just in IT sectors. The reality is, we're all in "temporary" jobs. It's no longer the norm to expect jobs to last for 10, 15 or 25 years. There are no more gold watches at retirement. But, don't confuse this for the idea that everyone is aching to leave after 18 months. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released figures in September that say the median tenure rate was over 4.7 years for men and 4.5 years for women. Median means that half of the employees had shorter tenure and half had longer tenure. When you look at workers age 55-65, their median tenure was over 10 years. It's definitely not the norm.
Temping isn't the solution for everyone. High level temping is great for people who want flexibility. For instance, Mahony says, he has people that might work a regular schedule of six months on and six months off, so that they can travel. They love the temp system. Others? They are desperately trying to land that permanent job and know this is the only way in through some doors. Companies can also lose something when they don't have employees that stay with them through thick and thin. Historical knowledge can be helpful. So, don't think that a temp will solve all problems.
Temping can be the solution for some projects. You may gasp when you see the cost of hiring someone to do a year long software implementation, but it's far better than trying to train your in-house person on software they've never used before, let alone implemented. Hiring a contractor or at temp to take charge can give you leadership on a project, and make things run smoothly. It's likely that this same person has done similar projects in multiple companies, which makes it cheaper in the long run than having to learn by trial and error.