Chances are, temporary workers are playing an increasing role in your workplace. And with good reason! In addition to filling in for call-offs or unplanned absences, temporaries can:
boost productivity improve focus increase capacity
complete special projects support your core team
test new ideas save money
But when temporary employees leave the job early -- or have to be dismissed for poor performance -- they leave a dispirited trail in their wake. Projects are delayed, regular employees are frustrated, and productivity drops.
Worse, you're out money. To calculate just how much, consider what you spent onboarding and training that person, the cost of covering for her until a replacement can be found, costs of mopping up and figuring out what has and hasn't been completed, and possibly greater losses such as proprietary knowledge.
A recent survey of North American temporary staffing firms found the "quit" and early termination rates to be as high as 10 percent in some industries.
But there's good news, too: according to the same survey, early termination rates can be as low as two percent. Wouldn't you rather be at that low end of that scale? Here are some tips to help you motivate and retain your temporary employee until his project is complete -- so you're not left in the lurch:
1 - Define the job clearly. Work with your regular employees to develop a detailed job description AND a clear list of the skills and experience required.
In addition to functional aspects of the job, share information about your company's culture and the personality traits or soft skills that will lead to success. Invite your staffing representative to tour your location, so he can get a feel for what it will really be like to work there. The better he understands both the assignment and your organization, the more accurately he can meet your needs.
Lower-than-market pay is one of the most commonly cited reasons for temporary staff to walk away before the end of an assignment.
2 - Work with an experienced staffing firm to determine appropriate parameters and pay scale for the job. Experts in pay rates for your local market, a reputable agency can help you calculate a competitive wage that attracts the best people.
3 - Prepare your staff. To be comfortable in the job and perform well, your temporary employee will depend on the goodwill of those around him. Reassure your direct employees that this person is not a threat nor a new gofer, but a valued temporary addition to the staff with a defined role that meshes with theirs.
4 - Orient the contingent worker as soon as he comes on board. Introduce him to colleagues and be sure he has a copy of your HR manual and knows whom to report to. Bring him up to speed on policies regarding lunch and other breaks, parking, safety rules and other regulations, and directions. If he will be using company computers, explain pass codes needed and other quirks of your system.
5 - Deliver clear expectations. Assignment performance and satisfaction depend on strong communication, so make sure your temporary employee understands exactly what you require from him.
6 - Include It could be as simple as making sure his e-mail address is added to the list for company-wide communications...or as big as sharing the company's mission and strategy. It's harder for a temporary employee to leave a place that offers him a feeling of belonging.
Praising solid job performance is free -- and boosts both productivity and retention.
7 - Meet his needs Find out what motivates your contingent worker and try to provide it. For example, if he's under 30, you may find he desires frequent praise and recognition (a characteristic of tech-raised millennials). Praise for a job well done is easy and free to provide -- and it can ultimately improve both productivity levels and retention rates for temporary employees.
8 - Challenge and stimulate your contingent employee if the assignment parameters allow for it, especially if his assignment is to last more than a few weeks. Most temporary employees hope to move eventually to full-time employment, and they welcome opportunities to buff their skill sets or add experience. Even those who do not harbor long-term aspirations can be motivated by stimulating work.
9 - Respect your contingent worker as you do your core employees. A safe and comfortable work environment, equal treatment, and general courtesy go a long way in making your temporary feel an obligation and desire to complete his assignment.
Final Thoughts Temporary employees hope to return to their staffing agency with a good report that will set them up for an even better assignment next time around. But even more, they hope for satisfying, remunerative opportunities. The better you can meet these needs in the short term, the more likely they will be to complete assignments and give their best performance, contributing to your competitiveness and your reputation in the industry. And that's a win-win situation all around.