Temporary Workers And The 'Gig Economy': It’s Not Just Cheap Labor Anymore 

Seven or eight years ago, companies and workers had a dramatically different perception of what a temporary job was. In most cases, a temp was low wage, low skill, low value proposition. It was throwing bodies at a need. 

When the housing market crashed and millions of extremely skilled people lost their jobs through no fault of their own, many of them began to inch their way back into the workplace by finding temporary jobs or “gigs” in order to stay afloat and pay the bills. 

Before then, temp work was just that - temporary. It was a baby step out of unemployment on the way to finding a low skill "real" job. No one looked at contingent work as a permanent state of being, or as legitimate career choice. A temp job was just a stepping stone to something better, something more permanent. 

Fast forward to 2016, and the economy is different. After the 2000’s were over, many of these workers started to realize that they actually liked temporary gigs, and the temporary employment model actually caught on as a higher value path. The pay was often better, even though they were on their own in terms of benefits and retirement. And many also realized that this model gave more control of when they worked, and for whom, opening a whole host of new lifestyle choices. 

Today there are millions of people working in temporary roles not because they're desperate for a job, but because they actually choose to. 



 

Leaving The Old Paradigm Behind

It's important to realize that now that we've entered a new, post-recession era in the American economy, the paradigm of work is also changing. According to Forbes, it's time to forget about the stigma that was once attached to temporary or contingent labor. “It just isn't relevant anymore,” notes Paul Martyn, an independent consultant in the supply chain industry. 

"It's time to get rid of those traditional thoughts about 'temp labor' because they don't apply here," Martyn told Forbes. "Today's contingent workforce includes highly skilled specialists, consultants of all stripes and industrial workers. This workforce is multifaceted, strategically important, growing and already changing how companies large and small are hiring." 

Temp jobs are no longer just safe havens for the unemployed - rather, they're destination positions for skilled people who have earned them. 

Introducing The "Gig Economy"

The buzzword that's often attached to this phenomenon is "gig economy." People have speculated that we're moving away from a marketplace based on permanent jobs and going from gig to gig instead. That's largely true - and it's nothing to “stigmatize or panic about,” Martyn asserted. 

"It's a trendy topic that often finds its way into discussions about contingent workforce management," he told Forbes. "And while there is not yet any solid evidence supporting the revolution that 'giggers' keep talking about, what we do know is that technology has lowered the barrier and democratized the ability for skilled workers to deliver their services." 

While the contingent workforce has been the subject with negative stigmas attached, the reality is that people in temp roles work hard and focused on delivering tangible value every day. That's the new way of work in 2016.

Contingent Staffing and How It Impacts Business Continuity

For executives, now is the time to think carefully about how the changing work paradigm might impact your organization for the better. Temp positions are everywhere today - so what does this mean? 

The answer, quite possibly, thinking differently in relation to business continuity planning. 

Due to its flexible nature, Contingent or Temporary Staffing options offer numerous upside potential to business as well. One comes into play when the business is looking to develop a new product or move into new markets or open new locations. Temporary staffing resources can enable short-term, experimental investments. Another attribute is business agility. If a company needs to ramp due to a natural disaster, labor shortage or unexpected order, temporary staffing can be used to fill in these gaps. 

Just as individuals use the temp job marketplace to shape their careers, CEO’s can tap into the Gig Economy to help manage risk on many levels and in doing so use temporary labor to ensure resilience in what can be highly dynamic, often volatile conditions.

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