You have a job, but it’s not permanent

money earthWe all do it – we all refer to workers we employ directly as “permanent.” But if you think about it, regardless of classification, no job really justifies that term.

Temporary workers love to hear that their temp assignment may go “permanent.” But are their jobs really becoming permanent? Are you creating the right expectations by referring to the job as such?

At the risk of sounding like a complete cynic: nothing is permanent. And it’s not a question of semantics, either. “I think many people and organizations are setting themselves up for a major liability by the use of the very simple term ‘permanent,’” says Monte Block, CEO of Rotator Staffing Service Inc. He is a part of a growing group within the workforce solutions ecosystem that is urging the industry to make a change away from that term.

The good news is there are alternatives: traditional employee, direct hire, W-2 worker, full-time worker — just to mention a few. These terms need to be socialized. But it’s not just your everyday lingo that needs to be changed. It’s surveys, articles, blog posts, presentations, contracts etc.

“And to increase confusion, many companies have a division focused on direct-hire, often labeling the product line “permanent revenue” on the accounting / financial instruments customer-facing people use to manage their business,” says Ursula Williams, SIA’s SVP of global strategy and marketing.  “Unfortunately, this language is used when referring to job classifications.”

How do you refer to your workers? Is it time to re-think the terminology? To join in conversations like these and more come to Executive Forum in San Diego, February 13-16th. The SIA team is happy to connect with you face to face. Come join the quest. Begin by commenting below.

This post does not constitute legal advice. Please check with counsel before changing contracts.




Subadhra Sriram

Subadhra Sriram
Subadhra Sriram is Editor & Publisher, Media Products, at Staffing Industry Analysts. She can be reached at SSriram (at) staffingindustry (dot) com.

Subadhra Sriram
Subadhra Sriram is Editor & Publisher, Media Products, at Staffing Industry Analysts. She can be reached at SSriram (at) staffingindustry (dot) com.

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8 Responses to “You have a job, but it’s not permanent”

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  5. Adam Gould says:

    I think the even more important discussion occurs when you flip the frame of reference and start discussing why “permanent” is incorrect because it implies “ownership”.  The labor marketplace and all its intermediaries are all under the delusion that they “own” the individual candidate/worker.  And at great cost to the individual and to the fluidity of the labor marketplace as a whole.

  6. PHeard says:

    Good topic Subadhra.  One option may be to refer to the non-contingent workforce as ‘direct hires’.  IT leaves no implication regarding the duration of the gig, but clarifies that the worker is employed directly by the company.

  7. Terri Gallagher says:

    Great article…and spot on.  The workforce is becoming more fluid; lines are being blurred between classifications…that are also shifting.

  8. Gary Zander says:

    Everybody’s a temporary worker (or consultant), it’s just that the permanent employees don’t realize it yet!

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