The Role of Human Resource Management

Human resource management (HRM) could be the most critical managerial duty for a business. Consider this: if a business cannot recruit, train, develop, motivate and appraise their human resources (read employees), they are likely wasting money and cutting into their profit. Read this section and pay close attention to the introduction to get an overview of the scope of HRM.

Contingent Workers

Though most people hold permanent, full-time positions, there's a growing number of individuals who work at temporary or part-time jobs. Many of these are contingent workers hired to supplement a company's permanent workforce. Most of them are independent contractors, consultants, or freelancers who are paid by the firms that hire them. Others are on-call workers who work only when needed, such as substitute teachers. Still others are temporary workers (or "temps") who are employed and paid by outside agencies or contract firms that charge fees to client companies.

The Positives and Negatives of Temp Work

The use of contingent workers provides companies with a number of benefits. Because they can be hired and fired easily, employers can better control labor costs. When things are busy, they can add temps, and when business is slow, they can release unneeded workers. Temps are often cheaper than permanent workers, particularly because they rarely receive costly benefits. Employers can also bring in people with specialized skills and talents to work on special projects without entering into long-term employment relationships. Finally, companies can "try out" temps: if someone does well, the company can offer permanent employment; if the fit is less than perfect, the employer can easily terminate the relationship. There are downsides to the use of contingent workers, including increased training costs and decreased loyalty to the company. Also, many employers believe that because temps are usually less committed to company goals than permanent workers, productivity suffers.

What about you? Does temporary work appeal to you? On the plus side, you can move around to various companies and gain a variety of skills. You can see a company from the inside and decide up front whether it's the kind of place you'd like to work at permanently. If it is, your temporary position lets you showcase your skills and talents and grab the attention of management, which could increase the likelihood you'll be offered a permanent position. There are also some attractive lifestyle benefits. You might, for example, work at a job or series of jobs for, say, ten months and head for the beach for the other two. On the other hand, you'll probably get paid less, receive no benefits, and have no job security. For most people, the idea of spending two months a year on the beach isn't that appealing.