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Biggest Staffing Trends of 2013

According to Staffing Industry Analysts, a membership organization serving the temporary and contingent workforce, 2012 was a banner year for staffing agencies. Worldwide, more than two trillion dollars was spent on hiring employees from staffing agencies, independent contractors and consultants. The sheer volume of workers employed in this capacity reinforces the notion that employers are now embracing the experience, skills and flexibility that members of the contingent workforce can bring to their business. The organization also reports the following:

  • In the third quarter of 2012, an average of 2.95 million temporary and contract workers were employed each business day by staffing agencies based in the United States. This figure is 4.3 percent higher than the same time period in 2011.
  • In 2013, approximately 16 percent of the workforce of a typical large company is comprised of staffing company employees.
  • The projected revenue of all staffing companies based in the United States is 134.1 billion in 2013. The previous high was 132.3 billion in 2007, when the economic recession was just getting started. Reaching a new record revenue after six years would be even better news for the staffing industry because it confirms the nation's economic recovery and growth. After a recession, the contingent staffing industry is often the first to see real improvement.

Even Better News for Staffing Agencies

There were 16,000 more temporary jobs added to the U.S. economy in February 2013 than there were in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is the most recent data that the government website has published on the issue. The temporary penetration rate, which is the percentage of employees who work through a staffing agency as compared to all workers in the United States, increased from 1.90 percent in January to 1.91 percent in February. In the 12-month period from February 2012 to February 2013, there were approximately 109,400 temporary jobs added to the economy. The staffing agency still has a ways to go to reach the all-time high penetration rate of 2.03 percent achieved in April 2000.

Temporary Jobs Help More Employees Achieve Work-Life Balance

In a recent survey conducted by Accenture, a worldwide management consulting firm, more than two-thirds of respondents said that they expect to have a successful career as well as a rewarding personal life outside of work. As aging baby boomers are replaced by younger workers, the value placed on work-life balance becomes even more pronounced. Slightly more than half of the respondents reported turning down a job offer in the past because they felt it would have too negative of an effect on their work-life balance. Respondents gave the following answers when asked how they personally defined work success:

  • 42 percent said money and autonomy were most important.
  • 46 percent said income alone was the way to determine career success.
  • 56 percent reported a satisfactory work-life balance as the most important ingredient of success.
  • 80 percent stated that having a flexible schedule was key to finding their personal work-life balance.

Smart staffing company owners know how to use these statistics to their advantage. They work with their clients to come up with flexible scheduling options before even interviewing candidates for job openings. These business owners understand that flexibility trumps money or fringe benefits for many people and they do whatever they can to deliver it. Even when a client must have people working the traditional 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. schedule, this still offers employees the flexibility to take time off between assignments to tend to family obligations.

Employers Also Value Flexibility

Temporary workers are not the only ones demanding flexible work arrangements. Employers also see the value in having a contingent workforce available to them. According to the American Staffing Association, the top three reasons that employers cite for working with temporary staffing agencies include the need to fill in for absent employees, to staff short-term projects and to have access to extra support during busy periods. This is good news for staffing agencies since these needs are unlikely to disappear anytime soon.

Temp to Hire Jobs

Employees completing a trial period through a temporary employment agency is another trend that have been on the increase for several years. As the cost of providing healthcare and other benefits to full-time employees continues to increase, employers are anxious about making costly hiring mistakes. By obtaining an employee through a staffing agency, the employer typically has at least 90 days to see if the person is a good fit. It also gives workers the opportunity to discover if the job is one they want to do permanently before making a commitment.

While the temp to hire scenario is ideal for the employer and sometimes the employee, the staffing agency must ensure that the contract spells out exactly what is to take place. For example, the contact may state that the employee provided by the staffing agency must remain on its payroll for at least three months. One month into the job, the employer decides he or she can't wait that long and wants to hire the employee immediately. To avoid legal tangles on both sides, the contract should specify whether this is allowed. If it is, the contract should clearly state the separation fee that the client must pay. Another common scenario is that the employer wants more time than he or she originally agreed on to offer the employee a permanent position.

Highly Skilled Temporary Workers

The misconception still persists that temporary work is for unskilled people who can't seem to get hired for a regular job. Besides the fact that many people actually prefer temporary work, this myth is no longer remotely true. Nurses, information technology (IT) professionals, salespeople, computer programmers, teachers, lawyers, accountants and other credentialed professionals work through staffing agencies just like anyone else. Some professionals simply prefer the flexibility and challenge of working on a wide variety of projects. Others are trying to gain experience in order to land their first permanent job. The people who fall into the second category often hope to be hired through a trial period hire type of arrangement.

The workforce is changing, which means that professional positions have to change along with it. In 2012, Kelly Services filled one million substitute teacher positions for school districts across the country. Some of these assignments were as short as one day to cover for a sick teacher. By contracting with a staffing agency to find substitute teachers, it relieved school principals of having to spend value time finding qualified people to work on short notice. The same is true of other industries that work with skilled professionals.

Increased Legal Rights

As temporary workers become a larger part of the workforce, their collective voice is being heard by lawmakers and industry insiders. Many staffing agencies have responded by offering health insurance, paid vacation and other traditional benefits to workers who have logged at least 1,000 hours in a rolling 12-month period. Employers are required to pay temporary workers overtime pay after 40 hours and pay into workers' compensation and unemployment funds on behalf of every employee.