Some like it short and sweet

Temporary work can benefit employer and employee, says Roger Trapp

The most recent salary and benefits survey by Robert Half and Accountemps provides the latest evidence that the use of temporary staff is on the increase. Sixty-four per cent of companies, compared with 57 per cent last year, said that they had taken this route. And while clerical staff still make up the majority, it is becoming increasingly common for professionals to be in that number.

Travelling Australians and New Zealanders have traditionally found businesses eager to take them on for short periods - as cover for absent permanent staff, to carry out special projects or to beef up numbers at busy times. Now British employees are joining them.

The reasons are not hard to find. Organisations of all sorts must be much more flexible and responsive to changing customer needs. In the current environment, companies must respond to customer demands by employing staff when they are needed rather than on a regular year-round basis. To do this requires hiring people on a different, shorter-term basis.

This sounds as if it benefits only the employer. Besides aiding flexibility, temps enable line managers to get around "hiring freezes" since they do not figure in "head counts" and to fill vacancies quickly without going through lengthy recruitment processes.

But there are also advantages for the individual, according to recruitment consultants Alderwick Peachell. It gives the candidate an opportunity to explore a career option when they may not be entirely sure which career they wish to follow. In addition, junior employees can build up their work experience and enhance their CVs in order to increase their marketability.

Moreover, many people initially hired as contractors or temps are considered for permanent posts once they arise or when bars on hiring end.

Perhaps surprisingly, the firm also sees evidence of people responding to the improving job market by abandoning posts where they have been working long hours for no additional pay for roles where they are paid for everything they do.

Such employees would be well advised not to think that they were about to take a ride on easy street, however. A recent survey by another financial recruitment specialist, Accountancy Personnel, found that 31 per cent of financial temps employed in London were Australasian. And what kept employers coming back to them were their "hardworking, enthusiastic and committed" attitudes.

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