Magazine article Supervisory Management

Using Temps to Get through the Rough Times

Magazine article Supervisory Management

Using Temps to Get through the Rough Times

Article excerpt

Corporate budget cuts--more and more common in today's economy--often mean lower headcounts for most operations. This, coupled with the aging of our workforce and the shrinking pool of qualified workers, adds up to finding new ways to staff smarter. Temporary employees can be a reliable resource; you can get qualified people and control costs at the same time.

When to Use Temps

Timing the placement of temps in your operation depends on your business cycle and your personnel needs. Sometimes, the need is predictable: during the transition to a new computerized system; merging businesses or offices; seasonal changes (holidays, for example) in business volume. But sometimes, the need for temps is unexpected. Perhaps your department has had an unexpected termination, illness, or resignation. Or you might find your staff serving a new client.

Cost tops the list of reasons companies staff with temporaries. But cost is only one of many benefits. Temps reduce overhead expenses, such as insurance and other benefits. Temps can be hired and re-hired as necessary; hiring full-timers only to lay them off in rough times shakes the morale of the entire staff. Long-term temps can provide alternatives to full-timers in high-turnover positions. Using temps at straight-time rates can minimize overtime costs. And temps can give you breathing room while you seek a qualified replacement for someone who's left.

Calculating the Cost

In general, hourly rates for temps are higher than for full-time staff. But you need to consider the total cost when comparing the use of temps to the hiring of full-time staff. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "real" costs for full-timers (beyond regular salary) include Social Security, workers' comp, and unemployment and disability insurance (12.4 percent); recruiting, hiring, training, bookkeeping, and payroll costs (10.1 percent); vacation and sick time, plus lunch and breaks (12.4 percent); and assorted fringe benefits (15.5 percent)--for a total of more than 50 percent over and above regular cost. Temps may get paid a higher hourly rate, but you save on all the extras that full-timers require.

Selecting an Agency

All agencies are not alike. And administrators should not base selection of agencies by price alone, nor should supervisors dismiss national firms automatically as "too expensive." Instead, the decision should be based on each agency's policies on recruiting, testing, hiring, training, and placement guarantees. …

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