Evolving to Catch Up to Our Evolution: Healthcare

The notion that temporary and consulting staffing is shifting toward higher level placements staffed by professionals has always been a theme of this blog.  The economy is a big factor in this shift; companies who need to expand their staff, but are apprehensive given the state of the economy.  Last year we saw companies hiring consultants as a hedge against having to lay people off if the economy soured.  Yet this trend started to shift from a hedge to a strategy for growth – rapid changes in our economy have lead corporations to realizing that the use of a higher caliber employee on a consulting basis gives them a number of advantages: flexibility to shift course, greater ease of hire, and be enhanced responsively to the changing needs of their clients. You should read on burniva.com.

We have seen clear examples of this shift. We regularly receive requests for high-level consultants paying 120K a year.  For example,  a real estate development firm looking to start a real estate private equity fund contacted us hire someone to set up all aspects of the new fund including the raising of capital.  Requests for senior compliance professionals, analysts and project managers compensated well into the six figure range have become the norm with our clients.  The very face of employment is shifting.

I expect this trend to continue and yet as an industry we are going to need to make tremendous changes to accommodate this change.  One change that I feel must occur to catch up with this evolution is healthcare for consultants.

One of our consultants working as an analyst at an investment bank called me the other day to let me know he was going to leave his job.  Not for another position, not because the client was unhappy with his work, but because of health care.  This gentleman is the sole provider of a family of 4 with no insurance.  He is taking a family member abroad for an operation.  Here in the States this procedure has a $125,000 price tag where he can get it for 80% less abroad.  The margins with this particular client would make it impossible for us to fund his health insurance.

Another consultant, an immigrant working on a human resources project contacted me with the sad news that her father died.  She will have to end her project to go abroad to handle his estate and will lose a significant portion of her income as a result.

Make no mistake, in the years ahead corporations will hire fewer people and make up the difference with consultants to allow for a workforce that is more adaptable to changes in the market.  As an industry we will need to prepare for this shift.   Comprehensive health coverage is a complete necessity.  The American Staffing Industry has opposed the President’s  Health Care Reform efforts.  I understand the reason why – the margins are very low in this industry so the dramatic increase in our expenses is understandably daunting.  Yet, as an industry, we cannot continue to grow in this direction without finding a way to provide for the health of our consultants.

Peter Laughter
Wall Street Services