Staffing Agencies offer Job Flexibility

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The Staffing Industry's Flexibility Factor
One of the major employment trends of the past 20 years has been the accelerated growth in the nation's contract work force A variety of studies now say "free agent" workers, including temporary employees, freelancers and business owners, comprise more than 25 percent of workers

No doubt much of that growth is the result of unemployment thrust upon many people during the economic downturns of the dotcom bust and the Great Recession At the same time, more workers and employers have become comfortable with a less permanent relationship The "flexibility factor" has been a driver in the growth of the contingent work force

A survey of staffing employees by the American Staffing Association last year found that two-thirds of those queried said flexible work time was an important factor in their decision to become a temporary or contract employee Almost 25 percent said it was an extremely important factor

Other studies by specific staffing companies reported similar views A 2011 survey by staffing firm Mom Corps, for example, found that 42 percent of working adults would be willing to give up some part of their salary to gain greater flexibility

This shouldn't be a big surprise by now Few employees today spend their entire careers with one company Many independents are people who were once laid off, bought out or otherwise removed from their jobs after the economy swooned or a corporate-level event such as a merger or relocation resulted in labor reductions By working as an independent those once dislocated workers have grabbed more control of their careers

Meanwhile employers have also found value in the flexibility factor During uncertain economic periods working with contract employees enables them to manage their payrolls more efficiently At the same time reserving a percentage of their staff for contract employees gives them a chance to meet more talented workers

The American Management Association conducted a survey of human resource managers at 1,248 firms last year and found that 91 percent believed "flexibility in staffing issues" was important, and 95 percent said that flexibility was being achieved through the engagement of temporary and contract employees from staffing companies "Finding specialized talent" was also important, while saving on payroll and benefits costs - often an accusation leveled by staffing industry critics at employers who work with temporary help firms - was a low priority

When the American Staffing Industry polled 500 businesses that use staffing services, 90 percent said it was important to them that "staffing companies offer flexibility to businesses so that they can keep fully staffed during busy times" Those surveyed cited three main reasons for using temporary and contract personnel:
• To fill in for absent employees or to fill a vacancy temporarily
• To provide extra support during busy times or seasons
• To staff special short-term projects

As employees and employers continue to balance modern life styles, family responsibilities work requirements, look for the flexibility factor to continue as an attraction to engaging with staffing firms

Yahoo And the End of Telecommuting
What appeared to be becoming a fairly common practice in the workplace ran into a wall last month when Internet giant Yahoo! sent a memo to its employees saying it would no longer permit them to work from home starting in June It was a surprise announcement because tech companies are known for having flexible workplaces

Yahoo management told employees that they need to be working "side-by-side" to make the company the "absolute best place to work" The memo added that often great decisions and ideas come when people see each other in the halls or cafeteria and from holding impromptu team meetings

The policy change has set off a discussion that speaks to quality of life for many workers, something that temporary staffers often point to as one reason why they choose to work as contract employees and not permanent workers with one company Telecommuting has often been promoted by firms as a family-friendly employee perk, but it also has been a carrot to attract top talent And it has caught on According to Global Workplace Analytics, a workplace research firm, 31 million people, about 25 percent of the US workforce, telecommutes

But it's not so popular with everyone According to a study last year for California IT consulting company Citrix, most bosses have their doubts about telecommuting Half of the workers in the study said their boss disapproves of remote working, and only 35 percent said it was tolerated Those bosses probably felt justified if they saw in the same survey that 43 percent of workers said they've watched TV or a movie while "working" remotely About 35 percent said they'd done household chores and 28 percent have cooked dinner Are workers actually less productive at home?

The answer seems to be yes, depending on who the worker is The general reaction to Yahoo's edict has been unfavorable, largely because it's a blanket policy "Marissa Mayer's Work-From-Home Ban Is The Exact Opposite Of What CEOs Should Be Doing," said a headline from the online Huffington Post, referring to Yahoo's chief executive

The Washington Post's "Leadership" column weighed in with "Yahoo's Perplexing Work-From-Home Ban" Rather than removing the flexibility of telecommuting, writer Jena McGregor suggested giving managers leeway to decide who's capable of working out of sight, and who's not Employees could be given the chance to work remotely on regular occasions if they earn it

Laura Vanderkam of CBS MoneyWatch wrote that a flexible work-from-home policy works best for employees It might include two days working from home and three on-site, with everyone needing to be in the office on Tuesdays Another suggestion was to allow employees to arrive later in the mornings after getting their major work done at home, thereby being available for interaction in the afternoons

Yahoo and other employers will be watching to see the ripple effect of not offering what has become a common workplace policy, but also what happens when an appealing employee perk is taken away Management's goal is to stimulate creative interactions that occur when employees are brought together But disgruntled employees who have been at home connecting with their colleagues through the Internet, might decide they'd rather do something together by themselves

The Benefits of Volunteering
About 645 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2011 and September 2012, according to a new report from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics Were you one of them?

Volunteering is an excellent way to make contacts, demonstrate your skills and develop relationships that could help you in your career path or to find a new job - all while doing some good for a cause or a particular group of people But yet volunteering actually declined slightly last year - 03 percent

According to BLS, 291 percent of people who were employed volunteered during the 12-month period, compared to only 238 percent of unemployed persons and 224 percent of those not in the labor force Individuals with higher levels of education took part in volunteer activities more than those with less education Among persons age 25 and over, 422 percent of college graduates volunteered, compared with 173 percent of high school graduates and 88 percent of those with less than a high school diploma

Of course in today's economy it's possible that the lower down you go on the income scale, the more likely you'll find someone who is piecing together two or three part-time jobs to pay the bills, leaving less time or energy to volunteer elsewhere But if you are able to take a longer view, "working for free" could pay off A few benefits of volunteering include:

Learning new skills Employers want people who have experience But how can you get experience if employers won't hire you? Perhaps you can gain experience and develop skills by volunteering in your chosen field

Building your resume If you are among the long-term unemployed you fill in on your resume through volunteer projects You'll also be demonstrating to prospective employers that while you were managing your own career difficulties you still found the time to do something good for others

Being a leader Perhaps there's a need in your community that hasn't been addressed Parks that need to be cleaned up, ball fields that are deteriorating, families struggling to make ends meet Propose a solution to key decision makers Create a plan to fix the problem Build some support and then manage it through That's impressive

Where can you find volunteer opportunities? Look to the nonprofit sector The issues they work on are myriad, but the skills to run organizations and carry out the mission are the same as in the corporate world Personnel management, computer skills, communications, finance are as important with nonprofits as they are with for-profit businesses