How to get the most out of temps

Temps (temporary employees) have become regular features of today’s workforce, filling in for permanent employees who might be unwell, on leave, attending to a family emergency, or involved in education or training. Most temps arrive and are expected to hit the ground running, causing minimal disruption to everyday operations. But rarely can they do so. Here’s how you can get better value from your investment in temps...

1. Prepare in advance.

If you know that the services of a temp will be required, start making enquiries so that a meeting can be arranged between the people involved. Consider this meeting as a one-on-one induction so that the temp will be able to hit the ground running on his or her first day. Arrange for the permanent employee to have uninterrupted time out with the temp. If a meeting between both people is not possible, ensure that the permanent employee leaves adequate descriptions of the tasks to be completed. If your organisation is IS9000 certified, procedures manuals and other relevant documents should be made available.

2. Delegate responsibility for employing temps.

It is unlikely that you will want to get involved in the process of appointing a temp. Ideally, the responsibility could be delegated to the person for whom the replacement is being organised or you may assign the responsibility for hiring temps to one person. If you use temps on a regular basis, it will be in your best interests to have a workable procedure in place for this activity.

3. Use an agency.

Unless you have an arrangement with a person who serves regularly as a temp in your organisation and with whom the organisation liaises directly, it is a sound practice to enlist the support of an agency. Those organisations have a larger pool to select from and have a replacement guarantee if you are not satisfied with a particular temp allocated. Any concerns you have about the temp can be communicated directly to the agency which, in turn, will inform the temp. In addition, if the temp needs to take time out for any reason, a replacement is forthcoming.

Select an agency that has relevant industry experience, understands your needs precisely, follows a code of conduct, provides ongoing support, and contracts its temps formally. When you choose an agency carefully, the time saved by using their services will more than make up for the fee levied.

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