Running Your Business

Hiring a Temporary Worker: A Quick Guide for HR

  • Around 3 million temp employees serve U.S. companies in an average week
  • The U.S. Department of Labor views temp workers as a sensible way to adjust to economic challenges
  • Temp hires also need a formal onboarding process in order to be successful
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Posted by July 21, 2017

Hiring a temporary worker can be one of the better decisions your business can make. A temporary worker can provide a short-term solution when another employee is out for a prolonged period of time—such as a maternity leave or military service. Other reasons for hiring a temporary worker may include projects that require specialized skills, and seasonal peaks in workflow that tax existing employees beyond their limits.

The Growing Use of Temps in the US

The use of temporary workers is nothing new. According to the American Staffing Association, more than 3 million temporary and contract workers serve U.S. companies in an average week. This is made possible by staffing agencies that work hard to match employers with capable temporary help.

The U.S. Department of Labor indicates that the use of a contingent and temporary workforce is a “sensible response to the competitive marketplace of today.” Hiring a temporary worker has many advantages over hiring a new employee or spreading the existing team too thin. For example, a temporary employee is prescreened, background checked and evaluated by the agency before placement in any job. Payroll, tax forms, employee benefits and other employment related aspects are handled by the agency. In some cases, contracts are flexible and can be terminated or extended as needed.

Controlling Employment Costs

Costs for staffing can be better managed and controlled by use of temporary employees. With a direct hire, the company may spend an unknown amount of time and administrative resources trying to find the right person to replace or stand in for an absent employee. This can often include advertising fees, hours spent reviewing resumes and conducting interviews, criminal and work history background checks, assessments, physicals, drug tests and more. In a temporary contract, these costs are absorbed upfront by the agency, and the costs of payroll are spread out over 90 days. It can be faster and more efficient to find a temp hire this way, rather than spend weeks or even months trying to find a new employee.

When to Hire a Temporary Employee

There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules for hiring a temp as opposed to a direct hire; however, one should ask if this is a project or goal that can be accomplished in a short period of time (such as covering for someone on leave) or if the position could be a team-building effort, in which case the temp can be offered more permanent placement at the end of the contract.

Know What Your Objectives Are

Before hiring a temporary worker, make sure your company has a clear goal to be accomplished during the time of the contract. Understand how the temp should be focused during the time he or she is on the project, and if this role is intended to replace or support any existing employees.

Develop a Clear Job Description

Because a temp will only be on board for a short period of time, it’s unrealistic to expect the individual to take on the same job requirements of a full-time regular employee. Instead, create a concise job description that includes the requirements, tasks and outcome of the project. Provide this to the temp agency to recruit and prepare your new temporary contractor.

Have an Onboarding Process in Place

Temp hires need more than just a brief introduction to the company. Develop a half-day onboarding process that includes an overview of the company and its leadership, a thorough review of company policies and procedures, a personal introduction to other team members, a tutorial on accessing job-related resources and technology and a written explanation of the assignment itself. Assign a seasoned member of the team to oversee the temporary worker’s progress and provide additional training and feedback.

Communicate With the Staffing Agency Representative

As the temp settles in, be sure to provide feedback and communicate any challenges or successes with the temporary agency. This is very important because it creates a positive relationship between the company, the temp hire and the agency so that the assignment goes well. Be sure to advise of any changes in the temp employee’s role if the contract terms or time limits need to be adjusted, if there are any payroll concerns and if the temporary employee fails to meet the requirements of the project. Prompt and frequent communication can take care of any issues that come up.

By following the above guidelines, it will be possible for your company to make the most of a temporary worker arrangement. Be sure to read through the contract terms carefully and get all information in advance, including agency references, before choosing this option.

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