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The Rise of Temp Work and Flexible Jobs: The Opportunity It Brings for Staffing

Expert Author Terri Roeslmeier

It’s hard to believe we’ve now lived almost a full year in the pandemic. Since March I’ve written articles about ways to adjust business strategy, how to adapt to the changing times, utilizing technology to stay successful, and more. When I wrote my first article related to the pandemic back in March, I never thought almost a year later the pandemic would still be as present as it is in our lives today.

What’s changed though in the past 10 months, are the opportunities the pandemic brought to the staffing industry. A lot has changed since March and companies adapted to this change. We’ve seen major increases and decreases in industry demand. We’ve also seen a significant increase in working at home, among many other changes. Now, we are beginning to see some of the long-term effects these industry changes have brought to the workforce. The rise of temporary help and flexible jobs for the foreseeable future is among these changes.

Cause of Increase in Temporary Jobs

There are several reasons experts predict there will be a rise in contract jobs going forward. In general, the staffing industry has seen that temporary jobs have recovered faster than direct hire jobs.

COVID-19 has actually added a lot of the jobs to the temporary workforce, such as temperature checkers and contact tracers. Currently there is a major demand for jobs assisting with the vaccine rollout, which could be a great opportunity for staffing companies if you’re able to get the trained staff that is needed.

Besides the addition of COVID-19 jobs, the pandemic has caused an increase in demand for contract work in other areas. Some companies are still treading water and are cautious about bringing employees back on full-time. Contract workers are less of an investment, which is better in times of uncertainty and as companies are getting back on their feet. The job is still able to get done without the added expense of benefit packages and other costs associated with a new full-time hire.

More workers have also turned to do freelance work as it helped bring in income for jobs that were lost during the pandemic. According to a survey conducted by Upwork between June and July of 2020, 36% of the American workforce had freelanced in the previous 12 months. 12% started freelancing during the pandemic (54% out of necessity) and 75% in search of financial stability. Of those that were surveyed, 88% said they are likely to freelance in the future.

In general, workers are also looking for a flexible work environment. More people have an interest in doing a variety of work and are looking to be able to control their schedule. According to a recent Monster survey, 92% of respondents said they think now is a good time to look into a gig economy. 57% of respondents also said they would take a gig job in-between jobs and 52% said they would like a long-term contract with flexible hours.

All of these reasons are the cause for the increase in demand for temp help. Whether it is the demand for COVID-19 jobs or the way the pandemic has caused the workforce and employers to shift the way they are used to doing things. In the process, we’ve adapted to these changes and it has brought on new opportunities for both workers and employers.

Cause of Increase in Remote Work

As we all know and have probably experienced it at one point or another, there has been an increase in remote work. I personally never worked remotely fulltime, until March hit. Now I’ve been working remotely for the past 10 months and it has truly become the new normal. When I think back to the days, we all went into the office, it seems like so long ago now. Workers and employers are beginning to feel this same way, if they aren’t already feeling it. Remote work has become a new normal and it is here to stay in some capacity.

From an employer stand-point, companies have seen that working from home can work. They’ve seen employees still able to complete their tasks and, in some cases, have seen an increase in productivity. Operating costs have also probably gone down as they are spending less money with employees working remotely (no more café snacks, employee lunches, etc.) With this, employers will be thinking about incorporating more work at home opportunities in the future and/or eliminating an office all together. According to a survey performed by Verizon, 86% of global companies believe the digital workplace will coexist with the physical workspace post COVID-19 and 78% expect to increase remote working.

Employees have also gotten used to the work from home environment and prefer keeping it in some shape or form. This may include going into the office a few days a week or working remotely full-time. In a survey conducted by PWC, over half of employees (55%), want to work remotely three days a week or more.

Remote work though is not just for permanent employees. The staffing industry has seen a rise in remote work from temps, since the pandemic started and it’s predicted that more temps will continue to work remotely post-pandemic. Employers who are used to temporary workers being on location, have learned that this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Not all temp jobs require the employee to work on location and the pandemic has proven that. This opens up significant opportunities for employers hiring temporary help.

Opportunities it Brings for Staffing

So, what does the rise of temporary help and flexible jobs actually mean for the staffing industry? It opens up the door to new horizons. Now is the time to begin planning both your short and long-term strategy. Statistics show the workforce will be making this shift for the foreseeable future. By adapting to the change now, staffing companies can stay ahead of the curve. So where can you begin?

Discuss Temporary Opportunities with Employers that Typically Hire Full-Time

The rise of temporary help is not just for companies that employ contract workers. It can be a new opportunity for companies that typically look to hire full-time. If a client would be open to the idea of contract work, it could be a good opportunity to discuss the rise and benefits of it versus hiring a full-time employee. It’s not only less costly, as discussed early, but it opens the door to explore more qualified candidates that are looking for contract work. Not all positions may be suited for contract work, but it is certainly an avenue that can be explored if the client is open to it. To test the waters, you could even propose a temp-to-hire plan. If the contract worker ends up working out and they want to stay at the company, they can be brought on full-time.

Flexible Jobs Add Another Layer of Opportunity

As temporary jobs are no longer just for companies that look to contract, flexible jobs are no longer just for permanent placements. As statistics have shown, more workers are looking to have the opportunity to work remotely. This brings new opportunity for both contract and permanent placements. It allows staffing companies to expand your search for qualified candidates outside of the state. It also offers the opportunity to find more qualified candidates based on their preference to work at home. There may be highly skilled individuals that you could be missing out on if they prefer not to work at a physical location.

The opportunity to offer more flexible jobs will ultimately help increase the candidate pool. If a client would be open to remote work, now is a good time to discuss the increased interest in it and also the benefits. Not all jobs can be performed from home, but think about the jobs that could be and the opportunity it brings for the client.

Take Advantage of the Industries in Demand

There are several industries in demand now that will continue to be in demand and offer opportunity to employ contract and/or remote workers. Below are just a few of theses industries that could bring new opportunities for staffing companies.

As mentioned earlier, there has been an increase in COVID-19 related jobs. The pharmaceutical and healthcare industries are both booming and are in desperate need of assistance to meet the vaccine rollout demand. This is a great opportunity to partner with these industries and help them employ contract workers.

The information technology industry also boomed in 2020 and will continue to spiral upward. These jobs have been more stable during the pandemic because they haven’t relied on having a physical location. Most IT jobs can be performed online and offer an agile work at home environment. There has also been an increase in helpdesk/PC support jobs as more organizations are working at home. With the rise of IT jobs and the flexible work environment they bring, it’s another great industry for staffing companies to explore.

Customer Service representatives and call center agents have also seen an increase in demand in healthcare, IT, and online retail. As more businesses move virtual, there is a greater need for customer service help related to software and applications to help run teams remotely. More people are also shopping online, so there is a greater demand for online retail Customer Service Representatives. Customer Service Representatives can also offer the opportunity to work remotely.

Industrial and Manufacturing have also seen increases in demand. Manufacturers that produce essential goods have needed to increase staff significantly since the start of the pandemic. If staffing companies haven’t already looked into manufacturing companies of essential goods, this could be an opportunity to employ contract workers. Manufacturers of non-essential goods are also beginning to increase production. Business orders for durable goods such as tools, appliances and new cars rose for eight months in a row. This shows manufacturers are increasing their goods production in anticipation of strong sales in 2021 and may need to hire more staff now or in the near future.

These are just a few of the industries in demand now and for the foreseeable future. By doing research into industries that are booming and are expected to grow, staffing companies will set themselves up for future success. If they can incorporate contract and/or remote work into these industries, it will be a win, win.

Running with Opportunity

The pandemic has certainly brought on it’s challenges this past year, but the silver lining is it’s brought some new opportunities for the staffing industry to take advantage of. Change can be scary, but now is the time to run with the opportunities that present themselves and prepare for the changing future!

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