Strategic hiring

One of the top reasons companies
hire temporary professionals is to
help protect the jobs of its full-time work force, suggests a new survey by
Accountemps, the world’s first and
largest specialized staffing service for
temporary accounting, finance and
bookkeeping professionals. More than
one-third of 150 high-level executives
(35 percent) recently surveyed said the
most important benefit of using interim
workers is to help avoid the cycle of
over-staffing followed by layoffs.

“Companies are staffing more strategically, and hiring a temporary professional is certainly a wise strategy to avoid
the consequences of over-hiring,” says
Randy Wolf, branch manager of
Accountemps in Chicago. “It is becoming more common among businesses to
fill a short-term need with a short-term
hire, so they can make use of specialized
skill sets on an as-needed basis.”

Smart Business spoke with Wolf about
the various reasons companies should
use temporary personnel, from avoiding
gaps in productivity during peak periods
to evaluating prospective full-time

The survey revealed that companies are
using temporary personnel to avoid layoffs.
Is this a new way of using temporary help?

It is not a new way, but more companies are using temporary help for this
purpose. Business executives are finding
that crunch times — when there isn’t
enough staff to complete a project — are
not the best time to hire full-time
employees. The workload often recedes
after the project is over, and the company ends up with extra people on the payroll who need to be dismissed. This is
not good for morale and does not make
economic sense, since unemployment
benefits often need to be paid for these

Another factor is what these ‘crunch
times’ do to the employees of a company. If there isn’t enough staff, burnout is
high and risk of employees leaving
increases. Companies are finding that using temporary professionals during
this time is an ideal arrangement. The
company benefits from skilled professionals, and employees are happy
because they can either work on a special project or the temporary staff does
the special project and employees are
not burdened by the extra work.

What other ways can temporary staff help a

It not only takes the burden off existing
employees and diminishes overtime
among permanent staff, but it is an
excellent way to find potential new

Twenty-three percent of the executives
surveyed said they use temporary help
to, in effect, audition a potential new
employee. This is a win-win for both the
employer and the potential employee. At
times, employers are hesitant to hire
because — while a potential employee
may look good on paper and do well in
an interview — it is difficult to evaluate
how that person will perform in a corporate culture, or how he or she will work
under pressure. It allows the company to
curb costs associated with poor hiring decisions, including start-up costs,
insurance and unemployment benefits
(as a result of the employee leaving).

Hiring a person as a temporary professional is an ideal way to evaluate the person’s job performance and overall fit
with the company.

What other ways can a business use temporary hires?

Special project work is ideal for tem-
porary professionals. They fill in where
the company needs it most, leaving full-time employees free to either learn a new skill set with a project or work
unimpeded at their job while the temporary worker takes on the additional

Another benefit is hiring temporary
workers at peak times of year, particularly when there is a surge in seasonal
work. Temporary professionals can fill
in for core employees out on medical or
maternity leave, vacation, long-term disability or other leaves of absence.

What can managers do to help temporary
workers better succeed at their jobs?

On the first day, it’s helpful if the manager reviews the temporary worker’s responsibilities and sets expectations.
Other ways to ensure success are to discuss the firm’s culture and procedures,
encourage questions, and provide the
temporary employee with the necessary
resources to succeed.

It’s important for managers to provide
ongoing feedback and tell the employee
if he or she performed well.

RANDY WOLF is the branch manager of Accountemps in
Chicago. Accountemps ( is the world’s
first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary
accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals, with more
than which 350 offices worldwide. Reach Wolf at (312) 616-8200 or [email protected].