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The challenges and opportunities of the "new" workforce: temporary and independent work reaching all-time high.

The number of temporary workers, independent contingent workers, and freelancers in today's workforce is increasing to record highs, defying previous economic trends. The number of temporary employees alone has increased by about 50 percent since the end of the Great Recession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the temporary help services industry now employs a record-breaking 2.7 million Americans per week.

According to CareerBuilder, "42 percent of employers plan to hire temporary or contract workers this year--an increase from 40 percent in 2013."

America's Labor Force Is Changing

People are choosing temporary, independent contingent, and freelance jobs sometimes out of necessity and sometimes out of convenience. Looking for greater flexibility and new opportunities, Americans are turning away from the traditional employer-employee relationship and eight to five work day.

Americans aren't relying on traditional fulltime "permanent" day jobs. They're taking temporary or independent contingent jobs. Or they're turning to the Internet and other connections to find work that can be done anytime, anywhere.

For some it's out of necessity. The slow, recovering economy isn't offering enough full-time jobs that match their skill sets, and temporary work is a great alternative. For others, it's out of convenience. Freelancers, for example, can work from home or choose how much work they take on, giving them more time to focus on other things like taking care of a their family or traveling.

Reasons Businesses Pursue Temporary Workers

Employing temporary workers has benefits for businesses too, like added flexibility. Companies pay only for the services they need, when they need them, to expand their business or to meet production demands. The main reasons U.S. businesses turn to staffing firms are to fill workforce gaps, augment their own staff, and find new employees. As businesses around the world expand, more and more companies are now incorporating staffing services into their hiring strategies.

Here is the big question: Is the temporary work trend permanent ... or temporary? The evidence suggests it's permanent. It's the new normal. According to the American Staffing Association (ASA), U.S. staffing firms have created more new jobs than any other industry since coming out of the Great Recession. ASA also reported that in the next 10 years, the U.S. staffing industry is expected to grow faster and add more new jobs than nearly any other industry.

Employers and Employees Must Adapt to a New Economy

Temporary work is good to help supplement a company's workforce during peak times, and is an excellent way for people to get their foot in the door at a company where they want to work and to gain the skills they need. However, it's still important for businesses to maintain a core staff to build a strong company culture. Companies need to feel confident about hiring full-time core staff for their business. You can't build a strong company and culture with all temporary labor.

As the contingent workforce increases, legislators, businesses and employees alike need to work together to adjust to this new way of doing business. For legislators, that may mean reforming laws and changing some tax structures. For businesses, it means understanding the value of having temporary workers and core employees, and how both groups can help a company effectively build its business. It also means balancing your staffing needs for a productive and healthy work environment, as well as managing the different challenges that come with both types of employees.

Most economic indicators suggest that the number of full-time temporary workers will continue to increase in the coming years. This is a new economy and a new kind of labor force. "Full-time temporary" is here to stay.

Our companies, our public policies and our society can and should adapt to America's changing workforce.

Broadly speaking, America must show a commitment to public policy that encourages growth--especially for small businesses. That is what will create more job opportunities-temporary and core staff--and will build an economy that gives more Americans the dignity of a job.

By Bob Funk, CEO and Chairman of the Board, Express Employment Professionals
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Comment:The challenges and opportunities of the "new" workforce: temporary and independent work reaching all-time high.
Author:Funk, Bob
Publication:Franchising World
Date:Nov 1, 2014
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