One of the top reasons businesses hire temporary professionals is to help protect the jobs of a company’s 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 overstaffing followed by layoffs.
“This reveals that businesses are trying to avoid the costly consequences of over hiring, which include layoffs,” says Tyra Olson, branch manager of Accountemps in Houston. “It is a smart strategy to fill a short-term need with a short-term hire, rather than putting a full-time employee on board.”
Smart Business spoke with Olson about the various reasons companies should use temporary personnel, from avoiding gaps in productivity during peak periods, to evaluating prospective full-time employees.
Your 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 employees.
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 tempo-
rary 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 and their day-to-day duties are completed by the temporary help 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 business?
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. Hiring a person as a temporary professional is a perfect way to make that kind of evaluation. It is also a plus for the temporary worker, who can evaluate if the environment and work are a good fit.
What other ways can a business use temporary hires to ease staffing challenges?
Special project work is ideal for temporary 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 project.
Another way to utilize temporary workers is to bring them in during a peak time of year, such as hiring extra financial personnel during tax season.
Temporary professionals can also help 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.
Saying thank you for a job well done goes a long way. There may be times when the temporary worker needs to hit the ground running at the start of an assignment, but making time for these steps will ensure a successful project and a happier, more productive work environment for all.
TYRA OLSON is the branch manager of Accountemps in downtown Houston. Accountemps (www.accountemps.com) is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals, with more than 350 offices worldwide. Reach Olson at (713) 658-1772 or firstname.lastname@example.org.