How Temporary Workers Assist in COVID Recovery
While the COVID pandemic has disrupted the labor market and caused uncertainty in staffing levels, temporary workers, or temps, have been an important part of the Philadelphia labor pool for decades. Temporary work can be defined as working arrangements that are limited by a specific period of time.
Traditionally, “temp” workers were employed to fill in for “full-time” workers when they were on vacation, sick, or on leave. Additionally, temporary staff would be hired to fill seasonal requirements or planned temporary increases in production. Today, however, temp work takes on a whole new meaning with the broad acceptance of the gig economy and the widespread use of freelancers, contractors, consultants, and interim workers.
Philadelphia is no different from any other city in the country and “temp workers” have become an essential element of the labor pool and are employed in virtually every market segment in the city. Just how essential they have become, particularly during the pandemic, may surprise some.
Temp Workers Have Become a Permanent Business Model
Perhaps the biggest lesson learned from the pandemic is that for businesses to survive and be successful, they must be agile and reinvent how they deliver their goods and services. Uncertain demand and uncertain supply chains can easily create an imbalance in talent
Ideally, the best way to ensure optimal productivity is to have precisely the right talent at the right time. Temporary workers, workers that can be added or relieved as the work requires, are an optimal solution to a fluctuating business condition.
For many businesses, the obvious advantages of utilizing temp workers (and liability concerns which we will address later) are reason enough to include the concept of temporary employees as part of the organization’s strategy.
Roles Filled By Temp Workers in Philadelphia
First, it is important to understand that the old stereotype of a temp worker being the person who fills in for the receptionist when he/she is on vacation, doesn’t come close to describing the temp workers in today’s market.
They come with all levels of skills and education from C-level executives to entry-level shipping clerks. They are doctors and delivery truck drivers. They are highly skilled IT professionals and they are janitors. Nearly every job description in Philadelphia has bee filled by a temp worker at some point in time.
Traditionally, temp workers have filled temporary administrative positions and seasonal retail, production, and warehousing positions. However, given the demand for “just in time” labor, temporary workers are showing up in businesses you might not expect:
- Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities
The pandemic has shown us that patient loads can vary greatly. Staffing to meet surges and declines in patients is best handled by temporary MDs, RNs, LPNs, technicians, and administrative support staff. Housekeeping, sanitation, and food services frequently augment staff to match demand.
Another industry that is significantly impacted by changes in the supply chain, seasonal demands, and overall economic conditions. Temporary workers are often required for warehouse workers and supervisors, drivers of all kinds, packers, sorters, and order pickers along with a host of other skills associated with the movement of goods.
- Financial Institutions
One of the mainstays of Philadelphia’s economy, banks, insurance companies, and financial brokerages all have fluctuating talent requirements to handle projects or compliance issues. Temp worker positions include financial analyst, internal auditor, finance and budget manager, grant coordinator, underwriter, tax accountant, CPA, actuary, and compliance officer.
- Legal Services
Hiring temporary attorneys has been a common practice for decades by law firms who need the expertise of an attorney who specializes in a field of law not normally included in the firm’s practice. A temporary attorney, or a team of attorneys, can be employed to work a specific case. Traditionally, when temporary lawyers are added so are temporary paralegals and other support staff.
- Small Businesses and Startups
By definition, small businesses and startups rarely have the executive expertise they need to successfully compete. Typically, these organizations rely on consulting firms for guidance, but more are now turning to seasoned professionals with proven success in small business turnarounds or startups to serve as CEOs, CFOs, and COOs on a temporary basis.
What You Need to Know About Temp vs Permanent Workers
As an employer, it is important to understand that the only difference between a temporary worker and a full-time worker is the limited time of the engagement. Full-time, part-time, pay rate, and benefits do not define temporary work. The projected date of the end of the job is the only differentiator.
As an employer, you can set the terms of employment for the temp worker without regard to the terms provided full-time workers. That means you can pay more or less and offer benefits or not. Where you can get into trouble is if the “temporary” nature of the job becomes more akin to permanent. In that case, a temp worker can file for the same pay and benefits as a full-time employee.
Options That Can Simplify the Use of Temp Workers
Up until now, we have talked about “employing” temp workers. When you employ a worker, temp or permanent, you take on responsibilities like payroll, FICA, SUI. workman’s compensation and complying with federal and state labor laws and regulations. There are ways to find temp workers without assuming the administrative strain and liabilities of being an employer.
- Philadelphia’s Temporary Agencies
The principal function of a temporary employment agency is to recruit, vet, and retain talent that matches the skill and cultural requirements of its clients. The agency is the employer relieving the client of all employer liabilities and eliminating the stress on HR resources.
Most temp agencies specialize in a particular field(s). There are those that feature temporary medical staff, interim executives, light industrial, sales and marketing, IT and digital talent, retail, and more. Of course, if you need financial or administrative talent, we encourage you to contact one of the leading employment agencies in Philadelphia, Innovo Staffing.
- Freelance Boards and Exchanges
There are a number of reputable freelance boards where employers can post descriptions for temporary work and receive proposals from freelance talent of every kind. Freelance engineers, lawyers, digital marketers, copywriters, CNC operators, telemarketers, and more utilize these boards to find new customers. These boards can be particularly helpful if your position can be filled remotely.
Why not bring back someone you already know? Retirees can be an excellent source of specific talent. They know you and you know them. Many retirees welcome the opportunity to demonstrate they still have value and readily accept offers made for 1099 contract work. Retirees are contractors, not employees. They issue an invoice for services rendered and are responsible for all payroll taxes. At the end of the year, employers will issue a 1099 just as they would for any other vendor.
Temp workers can play an important role in any business. Regardless of how you acquire them, direct-hire, temporary agency, freelancers, or contractors, they can play an essential role in optimizing productivity and providing expertise/experience needed for continued business development.