To Temp or Not to Temp

The world of temp jobs is a tricky one to navigate. There definitely are demand for skilled temp workers to fill a sudden and short-term need within any organization.

Temp jobs generally pay higher than a regular job, to compensate for the instability of hours. Most temp workers are signed up with multiple temp agencies, some as many as double digits. However, temp agencies by nature cannot guarantee a full-time income, leaving most temp workers scrambling to make ends meet financially.

The benefits to being a temp worker are:

  1. Flexibility. You work when you want to, and you can easily remove yourself should you choose not to work.
  2. Per hour pay is generally higher.
  3. Meeting new people and getting new challenges is always exciting.
  4. Learning about different companies and what they do.
  5. Making multiple connections that could lead to a permanent position.

However, there are several drawbacks.

  1. Most temp workers only get 1 to 2 shifts a week.
  2. Work tend to be entry-level types (e.g. administration, marketing, data entry etc), without ability to move ahead.
  3. Typically no or very few benefits.
  4. You have to make yourself available for potential work, leaving your schedule highly unpredictable.

The likes of Uber and Lyft have made temp work accessible to anyone with a vehicle. But if you don’t have a car, or prefer a different line of work, the options are more limited.

Most workers temp until they can find something more stable. Even part-time work is more preferential to temp work, as it guarantees a stable income.

On the other hand, temp agencies face the issue of high turnover and low reliability, as most workers will leave as soon as they find a more permanent position. This leaves the industry in the dire straight that we see today, with agencies and workers mistrusting each other, since workers do not trust agencies to represent their best interest, while agencies are constantly faced with no-shows from workers (and typically without any consequence).

There is no simple solution. To break the mistrust and rebuild the bond we have to satisfactorily address the concerns of both sides. Here are some suggestions we’ve heard from talking to both sides.

  1. Temp agencies should make sure each worker gets the maximum number of weekly hours before signing on another worker.
  2. Agencies can try to engage more with workers that already have a stable job, and is looking for additional income through a side hustle.
  3. Agencies can help to provide a path forward with training, scholarships, and providing connections. Perhaps even a path to full-time employment. People tend to try harder when there is something to aspire to.
  4. Workers help bridge the trust gap by committing to every job they sign up for, reducing no shows, and are guided by standard operating policies. A rating/review platform will also help add transparency and promote actions with consequence.