Temporary workers can serve a vital role for SMEs at various stages in the business lifecycle. They’re a boon for businesses requiring an extra set of hands to cope with busy work periods and for those needing to urgently cover absences due to, for instance, parental, sick or annual leave.
They’re especially useful for start-ups looking to get up and running as quickly as possible without incurring overheads associated with full-time staff. Crucially, temps can help carry out day to day tasks until the owner finds a candidate to fill a role permanently in their start-up or until they get a better idea of the scope of the job they hope to fill. Additionally, they only pay for the hours the candidate works; sick and annual leave don’t apply.
It’s not uncommon for companies to base a hiring decision on what they think they want from a permanent employee, only to realise a month into the employment relationship that they needed something else entirely. Instead of making a hasting hiring decision, a company might consider engaging a temp. They can operate with a lot more flexibility than a permanent employee, pivoting in response to changes in what the business needs. Secondly, they can be flexible around the length of time they are at one place, staying on from anywhere from one day to a few weeks to a few months. This sort of flexibility buys the business time to figure out what they want from a permanent employee. It also enables the business to take a ‘buy before you buy approach. In fact, if the temp is working out, it might be advantageous for the business to offer them a permanent position. After all, the business now knows how they work and they know the business – it’s a win-win situation.
Drawing on my experience as a recruitment consultant, I’ve pulled together some tips on engaging and getting the most out of temps:
Act quickly or you will lose them
We all know that saying ‘move it or lose it’. In the temp world this couldn’t be truer. its a fast-paced market and they can’t afford to wait around and lose potential roles, income and experience. Temps want work as soon as possible so they will jump at a role as soon as it arises. Consequently, when a recruiter sends you a candidate and you like the sound of them, act now or forever kick yourself for missing out.
Experience doesn’t always equal pay rate
The most common thing I hear from a client is “The role is just Reception, but you’ve sent me an experienced EA, they’re not going to want it”. That’s where you’re wrong. Candidates who are temping are a lot more flexible in regards to roles, titles and pay rates, because they’re only in the role for a short time. Don’t be deterred from hiring this person because you think they will be bored. A recruiter will have assessed their interest level.
Communication is absolutely critical
Often when a temp is in your team you can treat them as one of your own and forget that they are working through an agency. While it’s great that they’ve settled in so well, one thing to remember throughout any placement is to keep the recruiter in the loop with any changes you make to the candidate’s hours, duties, etc. In addition, to ensure they are getting the best out of the candidate, businesses, when communicating with recruiters, should be forthcoming with feedback, both positive and negative. To avoid any confusion, keep the lines of communication open and honest.
Don’t be afraid to give temps plenty to do.
Temps are hired in times of busy workloads, short staff, impending deadlines, etc. You are paying them to be there and help, so why not use them to their full capacity. Often a temp is capable of more than the role they are in and will be looking for extra work to do. Once they have completed the main tasks, continue to utilise them as an asset. Load them up with whatever is going to make your life easier. In the end that’s what they’re there for.
About the author
Emily Milner is a consultant with Kingfisher Recruitment specialising in administration and office support.