Temporary Workers

Definition: Employees who are not permanently hired but hired just for limited periods of time

If your business's staffing needs are seasonal--for example, you need extra workers during the holidays or during busy production periods--then temporary employees could provide the flexibility you need to grow. Temporary employees, as the name indicates, are hired only for limited periods of time. So they are only there when you need them for specific growth spurts.

Temps also have other advantages. Because most temporary help companies screen--and often train--their employees, entrepreneurs who choose this option stand a better chance of obtaining the quality employees they need.

In addition to offering pre-screened, pre-trained individuals, temporary can help contain your overhead and save time and money on recruiting efforts. The cost of health or unemployment benefits, workers' compensation insurance, profit-sharing, vacation time and other benefits doesn't come out of your budget, since many temporary help companies provide these resources to their employees.

A growing number of entrepreneurs use temporary workers part time at first to get a feel for whether they should hire them full time. As a result, many temporary help companies have begun offering an option, temporary-to-full-time programs, which allow the prospective employer and employee to evaluate each other. Temporary-to-full-time programs match a temporary worker who has expressed an interest in full-time work with an employer that has like interests. The client is encouraged to make a job offer to the employee within a predetermined time period if the match seems like a good one.

How do you make the most of your temporary workers once they've come on board? For one, "don't treat them any differently from your other employees," the American Staffing Association (ASA) advises. "Introduce them to your full-time workers as people who are there to help you complete a project, to relieve some overtime stress or to bring in some skills you might not have in house."

And don't expect temporary workers to be so well trained that they know how to do all the little (but important) things, such as operating the copier or answering the phone. "Spend some time giving them a brief overview of these things, just as you would any new employee," advises the ASA.

Another strategy for building a better relationship with your temporary workers is to plan ahead as much as possible so you can use the same temporary employees for an extended period of time-say, six months. Or try to get the same temporary employees back when you need help again. This way, they'll be more productive, and you won't have to spend time retraining them.

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