In-house Insights: Permanently Temporary

.“Over a quarter of all job hires by the private sector in 2010 were temp jobs. That’s going to continue in 2011, but hopefully eventually, we’ll see those turn into permanent jobs.”

-Chris Farrell, Marketplace Morning Report


Chris Farrell’s reported 25%+ figure in the quote above most likely validates the temp phenomenon many of us have witnessed or experienced first hand as in-house designers. Personally, though, I don’t believe the trend will reverse itself as Farrell hopes.

Many corporations irresponsibly cut creative staff beyond the bone in their panic over the magnitude of the 2008 recession. These companies then found themselves faced with the prospect of outsourcing design to agencies at a cost higher than the salaries of the designers whom they had eliminated. In response, they backfilled many of the open positions with part and full-time contract workers and haven’t looked back since.

There are pros and cons to this new employment paradigm, but the most important point to keep in mind is that, regardless of the arguments, there are conditions that, if consciously put into place, will increase the chances of this model’s success.

  1. Work with temp agencies who value their talent, treat them with respect and provide them with the support and benefits that will ensure their long-term professional, physical and emotional well-being.
  2. Provide as many corporate benefits as possible to help contract workers feel as if they’re valued and included in the corporate family.
  3. Develop robust onboarding procedures for your temp staff.
  4. Designate key positions as requiring full-time corporate employees who will possess the institutional knowledge needed to ensure your team’s longterm success.
  5. Plan for the need to adhere to co-employment laws by staggering the contract worker hiring dates.

Given the uncertain state of the global economy, corporate employment paradigms and the shifting perception and role of design, the temp worker model is at least a reasonable and workable near-term solution to business staffing needs. How well we adapt to and ride this wave will impact our long-term credibility and perceived value.

One thought on “In-house Insights: Permanently Temporary

  1. DesignSup

    We are facing some possible cuts in our org. I am thinking of writing a proposal to offer our in-house team to stay on as in-house contract employees. Any insight or experience with a transition like this?