Here today gone tomorrow: getting the most out of your temporary workers

Ross Bentley explains what UK managers should do to make full use of temporary workers and help them utilise their time

An estimated 26 million UK workers are set to take a holiday over the summer, so who’s going to do all the work? Inevitably, many companies will turn to the 1.4 million registered temporary workers to fill the gaps.

But managers welcoming temps into their places of work must ensure they maximise the temps’ time and help the temp to assimilate into their team.

Personnel Today offers some tips on how to get the best out of temp workers.

1) Show them the ropes:

“It is essential that at the beginning of an assignment all temporary staff are provided with a full description of the role and an understanding of the company’s expectations,” says Shelley Bolton, business manager at the Telford office of recruitment firm Manpower.

“A full health and safety induction should also be provided, alongside any particular company policies regarding breaks, dress code and hours of work.”

Managers are also advised to spend time introducing a temp to the rest of team so they feel comfortable from the start. Assigning a member of the permanent team as a guide for the temp may be a good idea and will also give a junior member of staff the chance to shine with this extra responsibility.

Don’t be afraid to ask temps to learn a new software system  – many will be used to going into new surroundings and picking things up quickly.

2) Show respect:

Today’s temps aren’t just dumb paper pushers, so respect their intelligence.

According to Tom Hadley, director of external relations at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), many temps are experienced, well-skilled workers who have chosen to work temporarily to fit in with their circumstances. “They may have young families or be returning to work – so make the most of their knowledge,” he says.

Hadley suggests inviting temps to comment on how processes can be improved, as they may add a fresh insight to the work. Also, he advises not to discriminate between temps and permanent staff when discussing team issues – this will help the temps to feel part of the team.

3) Inclusion and pay

“Encourage temps to accompany the regulars for informal drinks after work and make sure they’re included on official company-organised events,” recommends the website of recruitment company Hays.

“Encourage your staff to make an effort to chat to your temps – don’t allow your temps to be dumped in a corner and ignored while all and sundry have a good chat.”

As for pay, the advice is: “Don’t make the mistake of thinking temps are cheap labour – they’re not – your recruitment consultant will be able to advise you on the going rate, based on current supply and demand.

Further suggestions are to offer completion bonuses as an added incentive to finish a set project or assignment and, if you have temps on a long-term basis, consider paying them for Bank Holidays too.

Other ‘soft’ perks that could be extended to temps include free car parking, and access to gym facilities if they’re available.

4) Praise and feedback

As a temp there’s nothing worse than not knowing whether you’ve done a good job or not.

Sam Lumb, regional manager at recruitment firm Office team says: “Let temporary workers know when they’re doing a good job. They’ll respond to the same motivational methods as any full-time employees and will be encouraged to do the best work possible.” 

According to Lumb, managers should let the recruitment consultancy know about the temporary employee’s job performance, good or bad.  “If they’re doing an outstanding job, tell the agency, as you might want to request them for future assignments,” she says.

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