The benefits of a temporary employee Featured

8:00pm EDT August 26, 2007

As recently as 12 months ago, it was not difficult for companies to find employees willing to work on a temporary basis. At the time, it did not matter what the salary was or how long the assignment would last. Temporary job opportunities were limited, and there was little risk that the temporary would leave for a full-time job. With a thriving job market, things have changed and temporary employees now have multiple temporary job opportunities from which to choose. Consequently, recruiting firms and companies that rely on supplemental work forces are having to educate themselves on how they can attract and retain sought-after temporary employees.

Smart Business talked with Michelle Cook, vice president at Delta Dallas, to learn more about how to attract and retain temporaries in this market and how companies and staffing firms can adapt to it.

How do companies benefit from hiring temporaries?

Some of the benefits include flexibility, reduced liability, and time and cost savings. Whether it is a temporary job lasting a few hours or several years, using a temporary allows companies to adjust their work forces to meet their ever-changing needs and to remain fully staffed during busy times. Since temporary employees are fully employed by the staffing firm, companies are not financially responsible for their unemployment or workers’ compensation claims. That translates into reduced liability and costs for them should problems arise. Companies also save time by working with a staffing firm to design a screening process that fits their hiring strategies. It might include personality tests, credit checks, background checks, drug tests, and/or software evaluations. As a result, companies will only see qualified candidates — saving them time from going through resumes and interviewing unqualified candidates.

How can companies attract and retain temporary employees to be competitive in this tightening labor market?

In order to attract temporary employees, companies need to know why someone would want to work for them and should be able to communicate the reasons clearly. Those reasons are typically the same ones that attract permanent employees. Pay and perks are high on the list. Regarding pay, temporaries are becoming more educated on their market value. The pay of a temporary position should be in line with the salary the company would pay for the position if it were full time. Taking the annual salary for the position and calculating it on an hourly basis is a practical approach. In the current employment market, candidates are shopping around, so perks such as paid parking, casual dress codes or even free lunches are attractive.

Should companies interview for temporary positions?

If your company is requiring interviews for temporary positions chances are you are losing out on top talent. Those candidates will take other temporary positions that start immediately and do not require interviews. The person you should be interviewing is your staffing firm or H.R. Department. Making sure that they have a clear understanding of your needs and expectations will result in a successful selection for that position. After all, that is what you are paying them for.

Once temporary employees are aboard, companies are now faced with ways to retain them. It is always a good idea to do a modified orientation for them and cover items like parking, bathroom and break room locations. Anything you can do to make a temporary employee feel more at home will benefit you greatly.

Is mentoring more important than training?

With retention as the ultimate goal, training and mentoring are equally as important. Companies need to make sure they clearly define the goals and objectives of the job, thereby setting the expectations from the beginning. This will help ensure that companies get the best ROI. Providing a mentoring program can be a nice addition. This means designating someone in the company to whom the temporary employee can go to for guidance and answers to any questions they may have.

Remember, attracting and retaining qualified temporary employees is all about supply and demand.

MICHELLE COOK is vice president of Delta Dallas. Reach her at (972) 788-2300 or

Michelle Cook
Vice president
Delta Dallas