[MLC Exclusive] What’s in it for Me?


An article in the Financial Post explains “Why ‘temp’ is no longer a four-letter word in the workforce.” While it offers all sorts of reasons why the employer shouldn’t view temps as comparable to four letter words, it acknowledges that “it can be more difficult to see an advantage for an employee or job seeker.”

“Difficult” is putting it mildly.

It is hard to see how being hired as a temp does anything for the person being hired … less security, few or no benefits, usually lower pay and a more difficult path to job growth. No, hiring temps is all about what is good for the employer and there is very little in it for the employee.

That sort of thinking goes back to Alfred Sloan and his peers. In 1941 Sloan wrote a book called “Adventures of a White Collar Man” in which he said the hourly production worker “accepts the hazards of bad times - the business cycle.” The risk of sales dropping off and hurting someone is all on the worker.

Management people, apparently, did not “accept the hazards of bad times” and, therefore, were not routinely laid off and recalled as the “business cycle” did its thing. I suspect the production worker ‘accepted’ the hazards in about the same way the Indians ‘accepted’ moving to the reservations or a patient ‘accepts’ a cancer diagnosis.

Not much choice other than to ‘accept’, is there?

That focus on ‘what’s in it for us’ and paying short shrift to whether there is anything in it for the other guy – whether the ‘other guy’ is an employee, a supplier or a customer - is all too common, especially when that other guy has little choice but to accept the deal.

But the other guy will usually have his way sooner or later....

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