Catering giant Elior training temps alongside staff

Agency workers at a catering giant will receive training alongside permanent staff for the first time in an attempt to attract good temporary workers back to the firm year-on-year.

Paul Reynolds, HR director at caterer Elior UK, pledged to extend a training programme, which focused on serving and presentation skills, to agency workers after he believed the same scheme helped play a major role in cutting employee turnover since its trial introduction last summer.

Staff turnover had fell from 45% to 32% in the twelve months to April 2009, Reynolds said. If the same temps were encouraged to return to Elior each year during busy periods, the firm would save on recruitment and induction costs, Reynolds claimed.

Reynolds told Personnel Today: “Based on the success of the scheme in trials on permanent staff, we believe we could get similar results from our seasonal and temporary workers by providing them with the training.

“This way we’re more likely to have good temporary workers come back to work for us again in future, which leads to reduced recruitment costs and a better service for customers.”

The training will begin in time for the busy summer period between May and September, where temporary staff are brought in to fill up to 95% of vacancies for some events.

Elior currently employs nearly 8,000 full-time permanent staff and about 4,000 casual and agency workers in the UK, with numbers increasing in the summer months.

Last week ministers launched a three-month consultation with employers and unions over plans to give agency workers the same rights as permanent staff after just 12 weeks in a job.

Reynolds said he was not concerned that the new agency workers legislation would adversely affect the firm’s reliance on temporary staff. “We currently fully engage all our workers – fixed term, casual, permanent and agency – and provide parity [from day one] in terms of pay, benefits and access to training and development to ensure a consistency of service for the customer,” he said.

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