Want Better-Performing Temps? Onboard Them

worker trainingTake job descriptions, take matched skills and abilities, take high scores for aptitude, fit, or technology testing — take all the indicators that point toward success for a temporary employee and set them aside. If you’re serious about your contingents’ performance, then you’ve got to onboard them when they arrive for a new work assignment. You’ve got to get things right from the start, from the moment a temp walks through the door. And I’m not talking just tours and introductions.

PREMIUM RESEARCH: How Staffing Firms Incentivize Their Temps

The days of greeting temps, showing them their desk and the phone in less than ten minutes, then leaving them to figure things out on their own should be long gone. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. Perhaps this is due to the belief that temps easily adapt to any work environment. While temps are very flexible and independent, each work environment is unique, just like the companies themselves that hire them. Leaving temps on their own to muddle through with no or little direction is ultimately counterproductive and costly to a company.

Productivity. I would go so far as to say that temps probably need onboarding more than new full-time hires when you think in context of timing. The temp’s timeline to productivity is expected to be much shorter than a new hire’s. Often a new employee has a larger window of time to learn the ropes in their new position. And, they are usually provided additional support to get them there, such as an assigned mentor and formal training.

Compliance. There is also the important issue of a temp’s compliance with company policies. This is something that can be buttoned up through an onboarding process. While this aspect of onboarding may not be as extensive as a new hire’s, there are legal exposures for companies that hire temps that do need to be addressed.

Culture. Another key area that is often overlooked with new contingent workers is company culture. Temps need to know about the work environment and how the permanent employees relate to each other. Otherwise, they’re on the outside looking in and stay there. When temps “get” the environment because they were properly onboarded, they may not know exactly how to walk the walk, but they’ll at least know what the walk looks like. And that glimpse will help them accomplish more. Not knowing the company culture can be one of the most frustrating experiences for a temp and a real time waster for them in trying to figure it out.

Consistently outlining expectations, highlighting priorities, and setting the tone for temps at “Hello” through a structured onboarding process will ultimately yield better temp performance. Why? Because it’s inclusive, it’s transparent, and it’s engaging.  Such a process demonstrates that a company takes their temp strategy seriously because they have a plan. It shows the company values their temp staff enough to provide a purposeful welcome and the necessary information their temps need. It shows support for their success. Onboarding engages employees, regardless of temporary status or not. When workers are engaged, they tend to be higher performing and more productive.

Temp onboarding is another area in contingent employment that is evolving. For staffing services with an eye towards innovation, this is an opportunity to provide a valuable service in educating clients. Every client could benefit from knowing about the difference a planned onboarding process can make and how it will bring them positive returns. When temps clearly understand areas such as a company’s expectations, policies, and corporate culture, it is reflected through better performance and ultimately that makes clients more profitable.

MORE: Effective Contingent Worker On/Offboarding 

Cathy Reilly

Cathy Reilly
Cathy Reilly is an author and entrepreneur in the field of temporary staffing and has worked in human resources for more than 20 years. She can be reached at thetempfactor (at) aol (dot) com

Cathy Reilly

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