Managing Temporary Employees

Choose workers carefully to keep your business running smoothly

There are pros and cons to hiring temporary employees. The advantages have mostly to do with saving money since you don’t have to provide benefits and temps are paid only for hours worked. But there are right times and wrong times to use temps and it’s important to know the difference.

In addition to saving you money, temps can help you make better hiring decisions. For example, you may have a position open but aren’t sure whether you have the right candidate. Hiring someone on a temporary basis gives you an opportunity to assess how well he or she fits the work environment, gets along with others and handles responsibilities.

Bruce Steinberg, spokesman for the National Association of Temporary and Staffing Services in Alexandria, Virginia, says the two common reasons companies use temps are work overload and special projects. For example, you may have an unexpectedly huge order that requires immediate attention while a key employee is out on leave. Perhaps your sales volume is expected to skyrocket during the holiday shopping season and you need extra help to handle the customers. Under these circumstances, temps are an ideal fit.

Of course, you don’t want to keep these workers on board too long, so accurately measure your workload before hiring. “There’s no point in paying people when the work really isn’t there,” says Steinberg.

One of the dangers of using temporary workers is that they may not have a vested interest in your business. Therefore, you can’t expect them to protect your company’s reputation, secrets or property. To safeguard against misappropriation, keep transient workers away from sensitive and confidential information.

If you need temps on a seasonal or regular basis, try working with a steady pool rather than rotating new bodies in and out of the company. This will cut down on the training time.

Staffing agencies can be a big help in locating the right people. However, be very selective about the company with which you choose to work. Research how they screen candidates and make sure your needs are clearly understood. And guard against any liabilities by working only with agencies that carry workers’ compensation.

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