"Permatemps" Are Here to Stay

I came across a new term recently, used in this article to describe the employment trend in Europe. “Permatemps” describes those permanently in temporary or contract work.

It appears that the concept of “Permatemps” has hit Alberta as well. Latest Stats Can figures show the province lost 24,000 full-time jobs in January but added 25,000 part-time.

As mentioned in this New York Times piece, this rise in part-time work is the result of a troubled economy that has left employers wary of taking on the liability of full-time employees in tenuous times.

For us in the Interim Management business, this is nothing new. It’s a dynamic that fuels opportunities for senior executives looking to contract their services. However, of interest to me is that the “Permatemp” concept has become cross-generational, occurring in multiple industries and for all levels of wage earners.

I’m afraid our younger friends need to get used to this trend as it is not going away anytime soon. Where I see a difference at least in Canada is that if you have the right combination of education and practical experience, your job security may still be debatable but your income need not take the average 19% hit they say is the case in the EU.

There is an acceptable trade-off for employers and workers that both should appreciate. For the employer, they limit their long-term obligation or liability if the person doesn’t work out or there isn’t the anticipated growth for their business. The obligation for compensation beyond hourly or daily wages is much less. They can limit unproductive “down” time by being very work scope/project focused.

On the other hand, for the worker, they can invest more of themselves over a shorter period of time knowing that there will be a respite ahead. They can transfer their skills to different companies and cultures, have a broader learning experience and build a stronger resume. Over time they will be able to up their hourly ask to beyond what they would make as a full-time employee.

Lead, follow or get out of the way. The “Permatemp” concept is here to stay.

Mark Olson
Managing Partner & Principal

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