Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Kind of Employee Are You?

What Kind of Employee Are You

Usually this blog has a viewpoint from an ownership perspective, but in the final analysis we all work for ourselves-no matter the deal we’ve cut with our employer. So, it’s good from time to time to evaluate just what kind of employee are you? There are certainly some very fine lines being drawn (even though HR managers and agency counselors tend to deny it). I think for myself I have narrowed it down to 5 types of employee, and only one of these types is desirable. The five types are: highly valued employee, temporary employee, contract employee, casual hire employee, and disposable (planned short time) employee. In these uncertain economic times, it’s good to figure out just where you stand.

The highly valued employee is someone who may have been recruited off campus or military. The company might have gone through an executive search firm and paid big money to bring this person into the business. These people are expected to provide leadership, management, and specialized skills. If recruited out of school they might have been offered top wages and the “fast track.” If this is not you, I must sadly ask you to read on. If this is you, terrific and congratulations!

The temporary employee has really only one advantage, they know that they are temporary. This gives a “temp” a lot of flexibility. Turn over for temps is extremely high and work quality is usually fair at best. (Yes, I know there are some temps that get in and do a superb job, but they are the exception to the rule-and this is becoming more prevalent). Agency Counselors have tried to improve the level of work by often stating or insinuating that this job is/could be temporary to permanent (temp to perm), but experienced temps have become very inquisitive about this situation. Before I started a new assignment I always went over this with the company when they asked if I had any questions. “Is it correct that this job could become permanent?” Boy, listen to the company back track! If they do, you should suspect that your counselor might be engaged in a little “puffery.” If however, the company lays out a plan for your hire (assuming all goes well both for yourself and the company-and it is budgeted), then you just might have a temp to perm position, if this is not the case, keep sending out your resume’ and doing interviews, (even during work time), because your life expectancy is short as a temp.

Contract employees generally fill a very specific niche in a company’s employment structure, and are generally contracted to do a certain job function for a certain length of time (the due date). Almost always these personnel contribute specific business expertise or knowledge. These people are generally treated fairly well (unlike temp’s who can really be treated poorly). Unlike temps, contractors generally do a very professional job, but most “have been around the block a few times.” Contractors will sometimes speed up or slow down a particular job to suit their own needs (I know, I did it-and I was not alone, in fact very far from being alone). This happens especially with a “soft due date.” On the other hand, there can be problems if a “hard due date” is assigned, and then it is extended since contract employees are always looking for their next contract position. Companies have had contractors leave right before a huge project is due!

The casual hire is a person that generally works for a company part time with limited benefits. They must not exceed a certain number of hours or be considered full time (and offered health care benefits and retirement plans). Since these employees are offered very little, turn over is very high. The goal of most casual hire employees is to find a full time job somewhere (else). From the company’s viewpoint, these employees can be added or subtracted as business dictates.

The most recent type of employee is the short time hire (or disposable employee). These people work directly for the company, but what they don’t know is that they have a limited shelf life. What the company gets is more loyalty and better work quality, but they pay more for it-briefly. This situation usually happens when a part of a company-say the credit /collection/AR department is moved from one part of the country or another. Millions of dollars of receivables are transferred to a different location, and more personnel are hired to handle the in flow of receivables. After this business is mastered (and it might take 18 months to 2 years), there wont be a need for so many A/R type people, so the company may (or may not) keep the best, and lay off the rest.

It’s good to know who and what you are to your company. Going back to the macro-view of this blog, America has lost some of its appeal around the world for producing the best quality and most innovative products at the lowest possible prices. President Obama has stated many times that it is his great desire to return this prestige to America. Well, Mr. President let me clue you in on one thing. America is never going return to prominence as long as we remain a nation of temps, contractors, casual, and short time hires.

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