Magazine article Personnel Journal

Temps Drive Workplace Competition

Magazine article Personnel Journal

Temps Drive Workplace Competition

Article excerpt

THERE'S A REVOLUTION UNDERWAY IN corporate America on the employee-relations front, one with the same widespread potential for change that the Industrial Revolution represented in the 19th century and that the labor movement posed in the early part of this one. It's the emergence of an entirely new cadre of workers--temporary employees--and, as with most revolutions, the old guard is fighting it tooth and nail.

The critics of this new workplace dynamic bemoan the destruction of a social contract between employer and employee. Their nightmare scenario foresees a new caste of disposable workers, low in status and clout, pawns to profit-hungry employers who treat them as migrant workers. And they fret about an ever-larger population of the American work force losing their benefits--read: health care.

As the president of a fast-growing national temporary employment agency, I see quite a different dynamic emerging. I see the dawn of a new freedom for American employees--one that allows people with all sorts of skills and expertise, from typing to engineering, to take control of their destinies. Whatever you call them--free-lancers, consultants or temporaries--they're enjoying a level of flexibility and mobility that's virtually impossible within the constraints of corporate America.

Rather than disposable workers, I see a growing class of entrepreneurial independent workers that derives job satisfaction from providing a service to a market that needs and values it. I see workers who value diversity in their environments, who would be bored by working for the same old company, year in and year out, until a gold watch shoos them into retirement.

Besides, the model of a 30-year career with one company has outlived its usefulness. For Depression-era workers, job security was everything, and large corporations were its main suppliers. During the past decade, the Fortune 500 eliminated as many positions as they had created.

Older workers have been hurt by the change in the work-force dynamic. But many workers, especially those of the twentysomething generation, don't want to spend 30 years under the paternalism of a giant corporation.

They want to be known for what they do--not for whom they work. They won't say, "I work for Acme Company" as often as they'll say, "I'm an independent worker for Acme Staffing, and my expertise is process engineering."

As the market for temporary workers of all kinds grows, they'll enjoy a high degree of job security within their core competency; skilled employees who can deliver in this new environment will always be in demand. …

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