Temporary workers, by their nature, may easily escape the attention of management. But when that happens, a company misses out on maximizing a valuable resource.
With that in mind, Smart Resources, Inc., a Chicago temporary administrative- and executive-assistant staffing agency, offers advice for employers hiring and managing temporary workers for optimized performance.
1. Planning pays off. Before work starts, contact the human-resources department department or a representative from a temporary-employment agency and explain the department's current needs. The experts can help find the right person for the job, but they need to know specific criteria so they can send qualified candidates to do the work.
2. Ask employees. Solicit suggestions from staff on how and where temporary workers should be used. Then ask employees for recommendations for temp job candidates. Finally, if a recommendation pays off, consider giving an appropriate reward.
3. Communicate. Tell employees what's going on. Even the most secure employees may feel threatened if they suddenly see a new face in the next cubicle. Let staff know beforehand why the company is bringing in temporary help and what they will be doing. Get staff excited about the extra help.
4. Be prepared. Allocate workspace and round up a phone, computer and other office supplies the temporary worker might need before he or she arrives. Otherwise, the company will pay good money for the temp to sit around and watch while the work area is set up.
5. Who's the boss? Assign someone to meet the temporary worker at the door. Have that person introduce the temporary worker to the person who will oversee his or her work and to other temps and full-time workers who will be working with the new temp or occupy adjacent spaces. Clearly establish whom, and how, they should ask for help or advice. Also, let the temporary worker know who is supposed to give him or her direction, work and feedback.
6. Be specific. Tell new temporary workers exactly what needs to be done, and be clear about work rules, office routines, daily starting and quitting times and the length of the assignment.
7. Set reasonable objectives. Don't expect a temporary receptionist to know everyone's name within five minutes, or a file clerk to immediately understand all the peculiarities of the system. Be realistic, but challenging, about what a newcomer can accomplish.
8. Give feedback. Ask a supervisor to check in with the temporary worker to evaluate his or her progress and answer any questions. Even the simplest instructions can be misunderstood, so follow up to make sure things are moving along smoothly. It costs less to correct mistakes early than it does to write off a whole day's efforts because of a simple miscommunication.
9. Show some respect. Treat temporary workers the way you'd want to be treated. Even if they will be with the company for only a short period of time, they should be treated like other members of the team. Once they get involved in the work, solicit their feedback and listen to their suggestions. Newcomers (especially temps who have worked at several companies) have experience in different environments. They can bring a fresh perspective, and their views are often quite revealing.
10. Temp-to-perm? If the company is using temporary workers as a means of identifying potential employees, let them know what the plans are. That information could be the extra incentive necessary to motivate superior performance, and it could help a manager spot a valuable new addition to the team.