The American Staffing Association conducted a comprehensive survey of contingent workers, where they surveyed over 13,000 current or former contingent workers from 186 companies.

The results were rather interesting.

The survey did reveal that the overwhelming majority of the workers were satisfied with their work experiences.  However, in an interesting side note, the survey discovered that that the employees, when asked to self-identify, varied in their use of the terms “contract worker” and “temporary worker”.  In fact the terms were used interchangeably, with many of those polled preferring the term “contract” (43%) to “temporary” (57%).

The distinction between the various types of temporary workers and contract workers is often blurred, and no official definition exists.

However, some acceptable ways of standardizing the terms are as follows…

  • Agency Temporaries – workers that are provided by a human capital management (i.e. staffing) firm to a specific company for a limited period of time on a fill-in basis or for a finite project.  The work is usually directed by the client.  The main differentiator of a temporary worker is the short-term nature of his/her position (usually less than one year).
  • Direct Hire temporaries– These workers are employees of the companies where they work.  They are hired for a limited period of time (usually for seasonal work or for a special project).
  • Contract company workers – these workers are employed by a company that contracts out their services to a client company. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), contract company workers also perform their work at the client’s worksite and usually work for just one client at a time.  However, their work is typically supervised by the contract company, not the client.
  • Independent Contractors – Legally, these workers are self-employed, and they may or may not perform their services at the client’s worksite. The only statistics on the number of independent contractors comes from the Current Population Survey.  In this survey, workers who stated that they worked as independent contractors, independent consultants, or freelance workers were classified as “independent contractors.”

But how do the workers categorize themselves?  Interestingly, the self-described “contract workers” are

  • More likely to have some college education or a college degree
  • Earn higher hourly wages
  • Work longer assignments
  • More likely to work full-time
  • Have worked longer for their human capital management firm
  • Significantly more likely to cite “the money is better” as a reason for choosing contingent work
  • More likely to work in IT and professional/managerial positions

Self-described “temporary workers” are

  • Less likely to have gone to college for any length of time
  • Earn lower hourly wages
  • Work shorter assignments
  • More likely to work part-time
  • Have worked short-term for their staffing firm or rotate between different firms.
  • More likely to work in office/clerical, industrial and healthcare sectors

As this survey shows, the terms “temporary” and “contract” are used interchangeably by different groups of workers and companies alike.  Many people prefer to use the term “contract”, and (in all honesty) that is their choice.  However, the biggest takeaway is that – when you are job hunting – no opportunity (regardless of the naming convention) should be turned down.  Temporary or contract – if it is an avenue to full-time employment it should be explored.

This is where Snelling can help.  We have been in the business of place the right candidate in the right job…whether it be contract, temporary, temporary-to-hire or direct hire.  We are here to help you explore all your options.  So visit the Snelling website today, to locate your closest office where one of our talented staffing managers can work with you on your quest for employment.

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.