CONSTANT MONEY FROM TEMPORATINESS
The more Polish people migrate for work, the more difficult it is to find good staff in Poland and the better situation it is for temporary work agencies. At present this market has been worth one billion PLN.
Krzysztof Karpiński hit the life chance when he made use of services provided by temporary work agency. For several months he has been working in Corby near London as a manager in the Valassis company listed at the New York stock exchange. Karpiński manages a team of 300 people. The Bader Polska Company, which provides services in the field of sewing exclusive leather seats for cars, moved its whole production from Bolesławiec Śląski to Jarocin. As requested by its German owner, the Work Service temporary work agency arranged new staff of 100 women at the age of 40 or older.
First temporary employment agencies started in our country in the mid-90s when the employment rate exceeded 20% of all professionally active people. The ones which survived up to the present times own the market worth of one billion PLN. They arrange staff not only for companies in Poland. When Poland joined the European Union the real El Dorado was created by employers from Great Britain, Ireland, Germany and other countries of the old European Union, where a Polish plumber, nurse and IT specialist has got a good brand and a commission from every such worker is equal to 15-20% of his / her remuneration.
- In spring we will transport Vietnamese by planes to work at Polish building sites – says Tomasz Szpikowski, the president and co-owner of Work Service, the largest temporary employment agency at the market. The company, which for eight years has transformed from a student co-operative located in one of the cellars of “Ślężak” student hostel in Wrocław, providing students with employment in window cleaning and lawn cutting, will be listed at the stock exchange in the first half of 2008.
The company prospectus has already been in the Financial Supervision Committee. Work Service grew very quickly. In 2002 it provided staff for 90% of hypermarkets (HIT, Tesco, Auchan, Carrefour, OBI and Praktiker). Then other, even larger, customers emerge: TP, Colgate, Volkswagen, Polkomtel, Volkswagen, Polkomtel, Carlsberg, Allianz Zycie, the factory of tyres in Dębicy. The company has got branches abroad: in Great Britain, Holland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia and plans to open further ones. Its value has been estimated at the level of approximately 500 million PLN. When entering the stock exchange, Work Service plans to acquire 150-200 million PLN for acquisitions of similar businesses nationwide and abroad.
Kajetan Słonina established Active Plus in 1999. At that time business activities based on taking money for finding work was not regulated by any means. There was a principle in force that an agent is not allowed to demand money from a person for whom work was found. But there was a gap. If he employed people himself and “let” them to other employers, e.g. supermarkets or call-centres of mobile phone operators, legal regulations did not forbid it. The Act on temporary employment agencies came into life just in 2004. After one year of his business activity, Słonina knew that he opted well. Vedior, the Dutch agency contacted him and offered to purchase the company. He made use of the offer two year later and sold 70% of his shares to the Dutchmen.
Several years earlier Adecco and Randstad – ones of the largest temporary work agencies in the world - opened their branches in Poland.
- When we opened our office in Warsaw in 1994, there were no legal regulations in the field of our business activities. The real business started after the accession of the European Union by Poland. Within three years we have opened 31 staff recruitment offices – says Anna Wicha, the manager general in Acceco Polska, the company which belongs to the Swiss- French group conducting its business under the same brand in over 60 countries. In the 90s private employment was ill-reputed. Not without any reason, the first agencies conducting their business in Poland, mainly foreign ones (apart from Adecco, also Creyfs and Randstad), decide to set up their own associations and to pass the code of ethical conduct.
Then a competitive association made of agencies with Polish background, such as, among others: Żak and Work Service, was established.
There have been almost 1700 temporary employment agencies registered these days. There were hardly 50 of them just before Poland joined the European Union. Most of them are small, often one-person, companies, which disappear from the market within the nearest years. Some of them limit their services to their local markets or specialise in employment of people of certain occupations, e.g. nurses and building staff.
On average an agency charge is equal to 15-20% of the remuneration of let staff. If a domestic employer lets him / her, then an agency is able to earn 3-5 k PLN gross on his / her employment; if it sends him / her to Great Britain or Ireland, then it has got profits at the level of 15-25 k PLN. How much you can earn in this business depends on the number of employed people (for example Work Service has got 15 thousands of such employees). There are also orders from other markets, e.g. not a long time ago the Szpikowski agency arranged staff for the Ukrainian Prikarpattya Bank, taken over by Leszek Czarnecki.
According to the estimates of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, 6000 Polish companies and approximately 1000 foreign ones made use of temporary staff last year.
In Poland this kind of employment is proven proper in these areas where job positions are similar, such as, for example, in production, courier services or call centres – says Michał Szrajber, manager from the ŻAK agency. – Such cases when a top class expert e.g. programmer, works for half a year at a project as a temporary employee and the rest of the year spends in the Caribbean Islands is yet to come. Therefore, hypermarkets, mobile phone operators and TP are customers of temporary employment agencies. When we call the blue line, directory assistance office or pay at a cash-desk in Tesco, we can be almost certain that we are serviced by temporary staff. Such workers constitute a considerable part of the people employed in special economic zones. For example in the Invest-Park, Wałbrzych Special Economic Zone, where approximately 27 000 people work, more than 1000 are the staff let from various agencies. Companies manufacturing beverages, ice-creams, tyres, frozen food or building houses have for years made use of temporary employment agencies. This is the ideal solution for companies producing seasonal goods, which cannot afford to employ complete work teams for the whole year and pay them during intervals. But this type of employment is not beneficial only for them.
- When an order suddenly appears, materials and production components are easily to get. People are always a bottle-neck – says Tomasz Rostkowski PhD from the Department of Human Capital Development at the SGH. –If goods are to be delivered to a recipient in a week, there is no time to recruit additional staff. Then these are just temporary employment agencies which are able to help.
This opinion can be confirmed by Marcin Kasperek, the president of the Polish Association of Staff Management.
On the basis of our researches it can be concluded that over 77% of companies have had problems in finding staff. It refers equally to both new investments as well as to companies with stable standing at the market. Every third businessman unsuccessfully looks for workers for simple production tasks. Two out of three employers look for experts.
- At present we are at a similar level as Spain was just after the accession of the European Union – says Anna Wicha. She predicts a prompt consolidation at the Polish markets. At the battle field there will be 5-10 main players and several hundreds of companies with their local range.
Anyway the consolidation has already begun. Two giants - Randstad and Vedior groups which are the number 2 and 3 at the world market of temporary employment – are to merge this spring. It will lead to the fusion of Randstad Poland, which is number 2 in Poland, with Active Plus, acquired earlier by Vedior. Afterwards Randstad will catch up with Work Service which also intends to take over several minor agencies nationwide and abroad. Last year revenues of Work Service are estimated at the level of 400 million PLN, meanwhile the ones of the merged Randstad and Active exceed the amount. The Austrian Trenkwalder Group acted boldly as well. It took over the Łódź Patron Inwestycji Agency in January. Earlier the Austrians purchased the Benefit and Temp Service Agencies. Through that they can be located at the 7th place at out market with its revenues equal to 70 million PLN last year.
Though the names of these temporary employment agencies sound yet quite exotic, the business grows steadily from year to year. The pioneers have already cut coupons but it is just now that the markets in Byelorussia, Ukraine, Vietnam, India and Kazakhstan open where you can easily recruit cheap workers and send them to factories in Poland, Czechs or Great Britain. And still the economic migration of Polish workers has been in progress – many agencies have already earned millions sending them to work abroad. And not only people to perform physical work leave the country, but also more often doctors, programmers, graphic artists and engineers. You can earn considerably more from their employment as the commission depends on the level of their remuneration. And the more difficult it is to find staff, the more you can earn employing them.