The business of people: Temps in Retail too

Kolkata: "Temping", or the hiring of temporary staff to tide over the 30-40 per cent surge in footfalls during weekend or festive shopping seasons is on the rise.

The temping business has gained prominence in recent years, with modern business such as call centres and data processing set ups regularly hiring temps. Getting temp staff provides businesses with greater flexibility of hiring at short notice, minus the hassle of beefing up their payroll. Typically, undergraduates, and even homemakers fit the profile for temps, making a quick buck in the process.

In more organised temping, the temps get all social security benefits, which are managed by an HR company who places them at other businesses.

So, at a marginal difference in salary costs, retailers and other business hiring temps gain a he advantage in not devoting managerial time to non-core activities.

In retail, temps are typically part of three categories - frontline temps managing counter jobs, merchandising temps who have some previous retail experience, and a third group typically hired by speciality retailers.

Companies such as Ma Foi and Team Lease form the organised temping market. Ma Foi is said to have 30,000 temps, with Team Lease claiming to be the largest temporary staffing company in the country with 70,000 people on the rolls.

Temps so far have been utilised typically on back-end activities like laying out stores, inventory movement, etc. Going forward, the focus is likely to shift towards manpower optimisation, which will see them manning frontline jobs as well.

Staffing company Kelly Services has been reportedly approached by retail chains Subiskha and Vishal Retail, among others, for weekend staff. The Future Group apparently prefers not to use temps, instead staggering its existing work force according to its needs.