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The Ins and Outs of Hiring Temporary Workers

| May 10, 2018
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Recruiting temporary workers can be a flexible alternative to hiring permanent employees, especially when your company’s workload varies according to season or market conditions. But before hiring temporary staff, it is important to be aware of potential legal problems, as well as the challenges involved in training workers and integrating them into the organization. 

If you are thinking of hiring temporary workers, you first have to decide whether your company will handle recruitment or rely on staffing agencies to identify and screen candidates. While some agencies hire people on less-than-generous terms, some professional agencies that employ skilled workers, such as electricians, offer competitive pay and benefits packages. The conditions and compensation provided by the agencies will generally correspond with the quality of the employees they represent. If highly qualified and experienced people are needed for a job, it is best to avoid agencies that offer temp workers at suspiciously low rates. 

Before entering into a relationship with a staffing firm, tap your professional networks to find out about the agency’s reputation within the industry. In addition, verify that the agency covers worker compensation, has all necessary insurance in place, and conducts thorough screening and training of all workers. Make sure that you understand fully the agency’s fee structure, and watch out for hidden charges. Have your attorney review contracts with staffing agencies to ensure that your company’s potential exposure to liability is minimized. 

Once you have found an agency, provide them with regular feedback about the workers they have sent. This will help the agency better understand the needs of your company and make it easier for their placement specialists to identify appropriate candidates in the future. 

Recruiting workers without an agency can save money, but it can be a time-consuming process. If you are looking for seasonal workers, consider putting in requests with job placement offices at local schools and universities, or attending job fairs. Even if you only plan to employ workers for a short period of time, it is essential to conduct basic interviews, review resumes, and check references and Social Security numbers. No worker should be allowed to enter a job site unless he or she has passed all relevant background checks. 

Before placing want ads or interviewing candidates, consult trade publications or use online benchmarking tools to gather information about prevailing pay rates in your area. If your firm does not have a human resources department large enough to handle seasonal hiring, consider outsourcing some aspects of the recruitment process to an outside agency, while still maintaining overall control of candidate selection. 

Another key issue that must be addressed when hiring temporary workers is training. Even experienced workers may need help adjusting to a new work environment. If possible, appoint a foreman or senior employee to show recent arrivals the ropes, explaining basic rules and procedures, as well as outlining performance expectations. It is, of course, essential that all temporary workers understand safety procedures and are supplied with proper equipment and protective gear. Depending on the project, it may be necessary to provide formal training sessions, followed by testing to ensure the information has been understood. If language is an issue, interpreters should be available. 

Avoid using temporary employees for long periods of time, as resentments can arise when workers doing the same jobs are subject to different terms and conditions. In addition, temps are less likely to be loyal to the organization and, therefore, should not be relied upon to make the same long-term contributions as permanent employees. 

Even if your primary goal in hiring temporary workers is to meet demand during busy times only, ask your supervisors to keep an eye out for temps who are especially productive workers and who might be suitable candidates for full-time positions, should they become available. In the meantime, recruiting temporary workers may be a viable alternative for your company. Awareness of the ins and outs can help you make the most educated decision according to your business needs.

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