Human Resources News & Insights

Secrets to successfully working with temp employees

In these lean times, more and more employers turn to temporary employees. Guest poster Kelly Gregorio has some thoughts about how to make a temp program work best for you — and the people filling these critical slots.  


When a position’s unexpectedly vacant, the season requires extra hands or production needs to place with little effect on the bottom line, many businessess turn to temporary help. Temporary hires can pack a lot of punch without the necessary salaries and benefits that are required of full time staff.

Still, without the salary and security of a permanent position, there are some downsides to consider.  Many HR professionals worry about how motivation and drive will still take place. Luckily, with a little focus and effort, a business can make the most of their temporary hires.

Give ’em more than a job description

As you would with any new employee, make sure you dictate a temporary hire’s job responsibilities in a clear and concise manner.  Of course your temporary employee is going to need a clean workspace and all of the equipment necessary to complete the tasks at hand.

But it’s also important to consider their outlook on the position.  No temporary employee wants to fee like they are at the bottom of the totem pole, so make an effort to build them up.

Explain the value of tasks that you are entrusting in them to complete, give them feedback, direction and praise for a completed job well done.  Additionally, it would not hurt to get to know your temp and try to make a connection.  What led them to this opportunity, what are their professional passions and where do their true interest lie?

A temp employee is not very different from a full-time hire. Showing them the bigger picture and valuing their efforts can pay off.  Unlike the full-time employee who has made investments and commitments in his or her position, it is much easier for a temp staff member to walk away … so enrich their soil and root them in.

Don’t ignore your culture

While your temp hire may only be with your company for a certain period of time, they should still strive to fit into your culture…and it is your job to point out any available space.

Include temporary staff in on events like a company meetings, lunch-ins and outings.  Ask them to sign the card to so-and-so’s new baby and invite them to participate in any rituals your team shares.  Get them emotionally invested in your team so that during their time with you (regardless of how short it may be) they feel connected to not only the work, but to the company as a whole.

Dig up some perks

A common complaint about temporary employees is the lack of motivation.  But can you blame them?  Temp employees do not have many perks to help keep their fires fueled.  Temporary hires are not eligible for benefits, paid vacations or a real promise of a future with your company.

Whether it’s a parking space, flexible hours or an early release Fridays, find additional non-monetary ways that you can keep your temp worker happy.  It would not hurt to remind them of the potential professional connections to be made or your desire to help them with a solid recommendation for their future endeavors.  By making the effort to fulfill a temp hire, you can kick-start their motivation and keep it going.

Find a place for temp stars

If it is an option for your company, do not let star temporary hires slip by.  Try to find a permanent place for the worker who fits into your company culture and not only understands, but excels at the tasks at hand.  With the perks that come along with full-time employment and the added benefit of having gotten to know the company from the inside out, many temp employees would be thrilled by the prospect to stay.

Even if you can’t find a permanent place for your temp star, make the effort to commend them on their unique talents and expertise.  You never know the future path of a temporary worker; they may be someone that you can later outsource for future projects and special assignments.

Kelly Gregorio writes about employment trends while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a provider of merchant cash advances. You can read her daily business blog here

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