A temping offer
Temporary employment provides graduates with a perfect opportunity to suss out the workplace
In recent times, organisations have increasingly needed a flexible workforce that can expand, decrease and adapt to various situations. These requirements, and to an extent the recent economic downturn, have seen a growing trend for businesses to hire temporary and contract workers – a move that can prove beneficial to both employers and individuals.
Jeff Joerres, Chairman and CEO of global workforce solutions firm ManpowerGroup, believes that this is a positive trend. “Recent economic challenges have created renewed uncertainty, causing companies to be extremely cautious in their hiring plans,” he says. “While employers remain on edge, yet are experiencing some degree of demand for their products and services, they recognise the need for flexibility and agility in their business with a workforce that they can dial up or down as the economy demands.
“This has resulted in a secular trend for businesses to hire temporary and contract workers, because it helps them adapt better and faster to economic cycles. Employers can also try before they buy – assessing whether a worker represents a good cultural and skills match for an organisation at a time when companies are seeking an ever greater specificity of skills.”
There are many different reasons why people take up temporary positions, ranging from being between jobs or using it as a bridge to a permanent position, to wanting to test out different industries. For graduates, deciding to undertake temporary positions can be a very wise move. If you are unsure about where you would like to start your career, temping can provide ample opportunities to experience different industries and working environments until you’re sure which career path you want to take.
“Temporary work allows workers to build their skills and experience in a variety of positions, as well as grow their professional network,” says Joerres. “We are seeing that people are increasingly attracted to temporary employment, and more individuals, particularly graduates, are in an ideal position to spend five or six months in one position and then move, much better prepared, into a completely different career.”
What most people don’t know about temporary positions are the benefits they hold, especially for graduates. While the traditional perception is that moving from one job to another looks bad on a CV, it can actually be of benefit to the candidate, showing that they are willing to work and interested in learning, building up experience and skills in various environments. This enables you to determine your own strengths and development areas.
It is also a great way to get a foot in the door of a company you really want to work for. Joerres says that around 50 per cent of temporary workers move into a permanent position with the organisation for whom they are working. “Organisations want to see if someone is the right cultural fit or has the correct skills before offering them a permanent position,” he says. “In order to be a quality worker, it is important to be flexible and have an awareness of surroundings because companies are moving so quickly; they need people who can respond quickly and add value to the organisation.”
While it is beneficial for temporary workers to have transferable skills, which can be applied and developed in a number of industries, Joerres believes that a core skill such as accountancy, engineering or IT is a bonus: “In the USA, for example, 30 per cent of temporary workers in higher-skilled positions are paid more than permanent staff because they are being recruited as experts to spend a defined amount of time on a specific project.”
Reaping the benefits
With temporary contracts lasting from one day to a year, salary and employment benefits – such as maternity, holiday and sick leave, and pensions – depend on the hours worked and employment laws. In the UK, temporary workers are entitled to paid holiday and the national minimum wage; elsewhere salary and contractual rights may differ. “For example, in France and Italy there is something called Parity Pay, which sees temporary workers paid the same salary as the person they are replacing,” says Joerres.
As Chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup, he is well placed to predict what will happen to the employment market in the future, and he believes the trend of doing more with less is not going away and that the increased velocity of change will require employers and individuals to have more flexible mindsets and expectations about work. “Similarly, individuals are increasingly looking for more flexible ways of working to strike a better work–life balance,” says Joerres. “Employees are also exercising greater choice in which companies they want to work for.”
Undoubtedly, the positions available in temporary work are very varied, which means that salaries can range from low paid, reasonably well paid to very well paid. The more skilled a graduate is, the more likely they are to get a highly paid job. Specific positions, such as a systems analyst or a specialist IT role, can provide a good temp salary, as can roles that require particular skills or knowledge, such as HR, law, finance or medicine.
There are a number of positions available in the temporary field that may seem a less-than-attractive option at first glance, but actually pay a good wage. However, many of these do require dealing with customers on a daily basis, meaning that the employee will need to be confident and not easily flustered. Customer care and customer services, for example, is an area in which many companies employ temporary workers, but it does mean handling complaints from people who are not very happy with the service they have received.
Another area is telesales, which can be high-pressured work, but, as pay is boosted by commission, the more successful someone is, the more money they can earn. In temporary work, it is always important to find out who pays the wages. If an agency is providing graduates with these short-term positions then wages will be paid by the agency. With temporary contracts, the hiring company is also able to terminate contracts at short notice and not be liable for redundancy pay or unfair dismissal.
You may have the right to maternity, paternity or adoption pay, and should contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) or your local Citizens Advice Bureau to find out if you qualify. Statutory sick pay can also be paid – HM Revenue & Customs can help workers discover what they are entitled to. Tax, National Insurance contributions and student loan repayments will all be deducted by employers, who will also give temps a P45 upon leaving and a P60 if you are with a company at the end of a tax year. Further advice and support is available from the Pay and Work Rights helpline on 0800 917 2368 or at www.gov.uk/pay-and-work-rights-helpline.
Citizens Advice Bureau
HM Revenue & Customs
Temporary recruitment agencies
Badenoch & Clark