What should companies be aware of when hiring a temp worker?

Temp workers represent an effective resource when looking to staff up for big projects, intermittent employee shortages, and increased seasonal demand. However, our veteran entrepreneurs note that all temp workers are not created equal. Read on to find out what they suggest employers look for when taking on a new temp.
Cristina Sousa

Cristina Sousa

Cristina Sousa, SHRM-SCP, Founder & CEO of Sousa New York.

Five things to Consider Before Hiring a Temp Worker

When hiring temps, companies should be mindful of the following five items:

1. Many temps will take on an assignment while looking for full-time work. Having that in mind, it’s not an unlikely scenario where the recently hired temp is trained and situated and will leave for full-time employment.

2. Similar to employees, if hired directly through the company (and not from an agency), the temp may be eligible for some benefits. As an example, they could be eligible for temp sick pay leave per state/locality laws.

3. As a best practice, a temp assignment should generally be 6 months or under. If the assignment goes for more than 6 months, the position should be re-evaluated for conversion to company headcount. Keeping assignments under the 6-month mark will help keep the company in a safe place legally. It could be argued (and has been argued) that assignments over 6 months are not temp assignments, and are instead viewed as an employee role.

4. From an employee classification perspective, they are not employees. They are a supplemental workforce, to assist with filling in for an employee who is out on vacation or leave, or to support a seasonal influx of work. So when it comes to team meetings and company employer-provided training, temps should in general not participate, since their role with the company is limited and they are not headcount.

5. The company should not promise the temp employment with the company unless it’s promised while communicating the employment offer to the employee. This can lead to issues down the road.

Legal Differences, Training, and Vetting Agencies

1) There is a legal difference between temp workers, freelancers, and contractors.
These three types of workers often serve a similar purpose for businesses, but they are classified differently from a legal standpoint, and the process for hiring, managing, and paying them will also vary depending on how they’re classified.

You should ensure you understand these differences and which type of worker is the best for your needs and business before you start your search.

2) They still need to be trained and managed to be effective.
Temp workers don’t necessarily need the same full training process you would give to a full-time hire, but you can’t just expect them to show up and know how you want work to be done. To get the most out of your temporary staff, you need to be as clear with your expectations for their work as you would for a new permanent hire.

Similarly, you should make sure managers are checking in with them from time to time to answer questions, provide feedback on their work, and hear their input on resources or changes that could improve or streamline their work processes.

3) Know how the agency vets temp workers before you decide who to hire.
Using temp agencies can be an effective way to quickly increase your workforce, but you want to make sure you’re getting the talent and skills you’re paying for.

Be thorough in researching how the agency verifies its workers’ skills and experience, even when you’re in a hurry to hire. A bit of due diligence upfront can save you a lot of headaches and problems down the line from hiring an agency that sends you poorly-trained workers.

 Jon Hill

Jon Hill

Jon Hill, Chairman & CEO of The Energists.
Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger, Founder of Via Travelers.

Higher Wages, Bargaining Chips

Higher Wages
There are multiple risk factors to be wary of when one employs a temporary worker. Oftentimes temporary workers are freelancers who work for multiple firms at the same time, on different projects. Because they are being hired for a temporary time, usually up until a project ends, they will demand comparatively greater wage rates than your full-time employees would be receiving if you break their wages down by that number of days. This is because freelancers or temporary workers claim that their lack of permanent job security needs to be compensated for in monetary terms.

Bargaining Chips
Because of the nature of freelancing, despite comparatively lesser long-term job security than in a full-time placement, freelancers often have multiple short-term projects lined up from different sources. This makes it very competitive to lure them into offering their services to your project.

Hence, in the short run, they tend to hold greater bargaining chips, and the odds of negotiating a deal are usually working in their favor. Hence, it must be kept in mind that they expect and will usually get their way in securing a lucrative deal.

Customer Connectivity and Cost

Temporary workers have several advantages like on-demand expertise, more flexibility, and easy onboarding after they have proved themselves. A temporary worker is used to more intense specialized work on a wider schedule, making them industrious, and ideal for future available positions

However, temporary workers also have disadvantages like customer connectivity and cost. Customers like the comfort of the same employees on many occasions and respect a company that is loyal to full-time employees. Cost can vary among temporary employees too, and motivation can quickly become an area of concern if the pay is not high enough.

Kevin Callahan

Kevin Callahan

Kevin Callahan, Co-Founder & CEO of Flatline Van Co.
Corey Ashton Walters

Corey Ashton Walters

Corey Ashton Walters, Founder, and CEO of Here.

Temps can Suffer from Low Morale

These workers will put in the same hours, if not more, than full-time employees and receive none of the benefits while knowing there’s an end date for their employment. Temps can be working for the same department for over two years and still won’t get hired by the company. While they started the job excited and hopeful, it leads to little engagement and low spirits.

Less Dedicated to the Company

This group of employees has a reputation for being less dedicated to the company. The commitment to the organization is less than that of permanent employees. Because trust hasn’t been built up with new employees, there may be a lot of friction between your staff and temporary workers.

Chris Von Wilpert

Chris Von Wilpert

Chris Von Wilpert, Founder of Content Mavericks.
Jaya Aiyar

Jaya Aiyar

Jaya Aiyar, Founder & CEO at Créatif.

Lack of Teamwork, Shortened Training, and Safety Issues

A business that is unexpectedly expanding needs to produce more supply. To comply with the demands of external forces, a company will decide to hire specialized skills for a limited time only; a temporary worker. As a business owner, I observed that hiring a temporary worker is not helpful.

Lack of teamwork
Temporary workers have limited time to blend in with full-time or regular employees. Since the regular workers are aware that they won’t be around for long, they are hesitant to create camaraderie. Temporary workers may not feel like part of the team.

Shortened training
Limited training is given, and they need to learn rapidly what they are supposed to do. A substandard way of working occurs because of a shorter training period, leading to low-quality production.

Safety issues
Since they lack full training, some safety precautions have been neglected. Never assume that a temporary worker is ready to work alone or unsupervised.

Know the Laws, Avoid Hasty Decisions

As simple as it may seem, hiring temp employees should be done with caution. Here’s what I believe companies should know when hiring a temp employee:

  • First, regardless of whether the hiring is done directly by your company or by a third party, it is important to ensure that everything is done within the law. In the case of outsourced employees, check that the responsible company complies with all regulations to avoid legal problems.
  • Second, companies must avoid making hasty decisions in hiring a temp employee. This attitude considerably increases the chances of choosing an employee who does not have the right profile. This can cause problems in the relationship between employees and impair the quality of services. When hiring a temp employee, think about an old popular saying: Haste is the enemy of perfection.
  • Third, be specific about the assignments of a position and the qualifications to fill it. In this way, you will be able to hire an employee who meets expectations. By acting with transparency, the company shows respect even for temp employees.
Ronald Williams

Ronald Williams

Ronald Williams, Founder of BestPeopleFinder.

Anjela Mangrum

Anjela Mangrum

Anjela Mangrum, President, Mangrum Career Solutions.

Treat Temp Employees like Full-time Employees

  • I’ve found a surprising number of employers still unaware of the fact that temps are covered fully by all employment laws. Just because temps technically work for staffing agencies rather than the companies they’re at, it doesn’t exempt them from employment-related federal and state laws. These include health and safety regulations, anti-harassment, and anti-discrimination policies. This means if a temp gets injured doing their job, they’ll be entitled to workers’ comp just like your regular full-time employees.
  • Temps are best trained quickly, with a simpler module as compared to full-time employees. I’ve noticed many employers make the mistake of training their employees the same way, offering comprehensive onboarding that goes on for weeks or up to a month.

While you can benefit from extensively training your full-time employees, I see lengthy training periods for temporary workers as a waste of time and resources. The best approach, in my opinion, is to hire temps only for simpler job roles and train them just to perform those, with the timespan being a maximum of one day’s training for each month you expect them to be with you.

For instance, if a worker is on board for four months, you shouldn’t be spending more than four days training them; whatever is left can be learned while on the job.

  • Temps should be treated the same way as full-time employees. While I believe this goes without saying, I have noticed many workplaces where the leadership and full-time employees treat temporary workers like second-class citizens. Some even go as far as excluding temps from in-office events, leaving them at their desks while the team celebrates a birthday or an achievement.

This kind of toxicity will only give a bad name to your business – the employees will move on, but it’s very easy for companies to ruin their own reputation with careless or discriminatory behavior. I believe employers should take responsibility for creating a welcoming environment for seasonal workers. This can eventually pay back as you discover highly talented people through seasonal hiring and onboard them full-time to form a stronger team.

Limited Knowledge About the Company’s Policies and Procedure

When hiring a temp worker, companies should be aware of the potential benefits and pitfalls. On the plus side, temp workers can provide much-needed flexibility during periods of high demand or turnover.

They can also be a cost-effective way to staff up for special projects or events. However, there are also some risks associated with hiring temp workers. For example, they may be less knowledgeable about company policies and procedures, which could lead to mistakes or accidents.

Additionally, they may be less engaged with their work, which could negatively impact productivity. Ultimately, the decision to hire a temp worker should be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the specific needs of the company and the ability of the worker to meet those needs.

Max Benz

Max Benz

Max Benz, Founder, and CEO at BankingGeek.
Mila Garcia

Mila Garcia

Mila Garcia, Co-founder at iPaydayLoans.

Cultural Alignment

Despite the fact that most temporary workers are usually knowledgeable in their industry, most of them will still need some time to get up to speed on how your business operates, as well as the specific duties of the job. As such, you shouldn’t expect a temp to be effective in their role from day one, as they will usually need some time to get settled in.

Aside from that, you should also make sure that you place a good amount of focus on cultural fit when hiring a temp worker because cultural alignment can often influence performance outcomes.

After all, if one person is pessimistic, uncooperative, or just unmotivated, it can often result in a negative working environment that affects productivity and workplace morale. In fact, when the position is temporary and the new recruit needs to get up and running quickly, the importance of good cultural alignment tends to be even greater than for permanent hires.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors' statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.