You’ve been hearing for months that the recession is over, but like many other business owners you might be adopting a wait and see attitude. The only fact that seems undisputable is that the economy’s next move is not easy to predict.

In an uncertain environment, one solution for employers is to hire temporary employees for any downturns — or upturns — they face.

“Businesses used to have a steady flow of business throughout the year and they were able to budget for what their staffing needs would be and hire full-time,” says Scott Adamonis, director of sales for Everstaff. “Nowadays, business ebbs and flows and having a relationship with a staffing company allows companies to be able to fluctuate.”

Smart Business spoke with Adamonis about how companies can roll with a changing economy using temporary employees.

How common is the use of temporary employees?

More companies are shifting toward a flexible workforce, especially with the instability of the economy over the past five or six years. It’s very unpredictable and having a staffing company able to provide contingent labor is a great business model that many have adopted. More often than not, the decision of how many temporary employees to use is based on the business environment and is not necessarily industry specific.

Temporary or contingent employees aid companies because of their flexibility. In the past, businesses would use temporary employees to cover for vacations, maternity leaves or something along those lines. Now business is fluctuating — based on what the economy is doing — so employers need to have a flexible work staff in order to ramp up and ramp down based on their business needs.

Along with flexibility, what are some additional advantages of temporary employees?

Flexibility certainly is one of the largest advantages as it fills the widespread need for an adaptable workforce, especially for companies that experience ups and downs in their business activity with project work or seasonal swings. Employers are slowly bringing people back into their workforce but in contract or in contingent labor positions as a test of the economy. Then, if business activity decreases again, employers can — with the help of a staffing agency — respond quickly to changes.

Hiring temporary employees is also a great cost-saving tool. For example, a company will utilize contingent labor to handle unexpected increases in workload and accomplish this without the burden of hiring additional full-time employees or forcing overtime hours on their current staff.

The most expensive item on a P&L or balance sheet is labor expenses — from salary and benefits to unemployment and employee taxes. Partnering with a staffing firm can help a company ease some of these burdens by providing a flexible workforce on an as needed basis

Using supplemental staff for large projects or seasonal work increases the morale of your core full-time employees. When you, as an employer, get major orders and you already have full-time staff working 10- or 12-hour days, you don’t want to increase their workload and risk those employees burning out.

Employers also can treat these temporary employment situations as working interviews, utilizing short-term work to assess work ethics, cultural fits and skill levels.

As a business owner in an uncertain environment, how do I identify my staffing needs?

Forecasting who, what, where and when those needs are going to arise is a difficult task in today’s world and partnering with a staffing company is an excellent solution. A lot of times you think projects are coming in and can anticipate them, but other times you might not be able to do that. You don’t want to have your workforce sitting around waiting, so you can build a relationship with a staffing company and use it as an extension of your HR department. A quality staffing company will recruit and build a specific pipeline of talent so the turnaround time of implementing your workforce is seamless.

You always want to ensure your full-time employees are taken care of first. Many employers offer extra hours to their permanent staff initially, but as the year goes on they need the additional help of temporary employees. It’s an added resource that companies can utilize as needed.

What should an employer know about hiring temporary employees through a staffing agency?

The most important aspect of partnering with an outside source is to have your relationship in place with a temporary staffing agency ahead of time. The more a staffing agency knows about your company, the better the agency is going to be able to find people who fit your needs. The staffing agency does much of the groundwork before placing someone, so a strong prior relationship will enable the agency to understand the company’s culture or the background checks and screening requirements that are necessary to work at its facilities.

A close relationship between a business and the staffing agency not only alleviates turnover but also speeds the hiring process. Employers may not have any staffing needs for several months, but when they do require temporary employees they will need them quickly.

When looking for the right staffing company, don’t be afraid to review all your options. There are many specialty staffing companies that are job-type specific, others offer employees for a variety of jobs such as general labor; office and administration; accounting and finance; sales; legal; call center; information technology; and engineering. Look for an agency that can blend your staffing needs, company goals and culture with the right skill set, service, and technology to deliver the solutions necessary to help manage an ever-growing need for a flexible workforce.

In the end, there needs to be a comfortable working relationship where the hiring managers and staffing companies share the same business philosophies and practices.

Scott Adamonis is the director of sales for Everstaff. Reach him at (216) 369-2566, ext. 111, or sadamonis@everstaff.com.

Insights Recruiting & Staffing is brought to you by Everstaff

Published in Cleveland