When, and When Not to Hire a Temp Employee

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Temporary employees are part of our work culture. In an average week, American companies have three million temps working at least some hours. In an average year, American staffing companies hire sixteen million employees to fill temp jobs. 

There are different kinds of companies that recruit employees, but staffing companies, and temp employees, are the ones most people are familiar with. We already know that temp employees, and the staffing firms that source and provide them, can be a big help. The question is, when you should use a temp, and when you shouldn’t.

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When to Hire a Temp

When you need someone fast and painlessly

There are times when you need someone to start right away. For instance, if a permanent employee is out due to illness or if you need help on a big project. A good staffing firm is perfect to find a temp to fill, especially if the firm is familiar with your company. 

Beyond the fact that a staffing firm can find someone fast, they can also minimize the pain that can come with the recruiting process. There’s a reason most people don’t like being involved with the interviewing. Once a job is posted, someone has to receive and review all the responses, then screen them and sort them, then set up interviews with at least one, and possibly more, people. All of that takes time, energy and money. It also causes unnecessary stress and aggravation to managers who are pulled away from their primary duties and tasks. A staffing firm can not only find candidates for you, but they can also screen and qualify those candidates, so if you interview someone you like, they can start right away. A staffing firm can be as involved as much, or as little, as you like.


When you Want a Great Way to Audition New Talent

Most people put their best foot forward in an interview and can seem very professional for a few hours. That’s why one of the biggest challenges in the hiring process is trying to figure out just how well a potential employee will perform when it comes to every day. 

The beauty of using a temp is that you can have an accurate look at someone’s work habits. You’ll know if they show up to work on time, if they’re able to follow directions and if they mesh well with your staff. You can see how well they follow instructions and grasp the nature of their work. And it also works in the other direction, too.  Temporary employees have the chance to see your company up close and get a sense of whether becoming a permanent employee would suit their personal and professional goals.  So, ideally, everyone can win.

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When you Want to Reduce Labor Costs

When it comes to hiring people, everything from advertising to administration costs. Labor is usually the biggest item in a company’s operational budget. Having a good staffing firm in your corner can make a huge difference in controlling your labor costs

However, when you hire a temp employee, the firm supplying them becomes responsible for administrative costs, such as payroll and benefits. They also take on the cost of any employer tax burdens, such as unemployment, Social Security and Medicare. Additionally, if the temporary employee is not a good fit, it’s much easier, and faster, to replace them than it is to replace a permanent employee. 

There is a cost associated with using a staffing firm. However, when you balance the cost of the firm with the ability of the firm to find and hire good quickly while minimizing labor costs and risks to your company, a staffing firm is often the best solution.


frustrated man in office setting

When NOT to Hire a Temp

When the position is highly specialized

When you hire a temp employee, you will have to prepare your office for them and provide some training. They’ll need to know things like how to clock in and where they can park and how to work the copy machine. However, there are some things that can’t, and shouldn’t, be taught on the job. If a position is highly specialized, you would be wise to work with a firm that’s particularly experienced in finding and working with people who already have the kind of skillset you need. 

There’s a lot of misconceptions about temporary employees. When people hear the words “temp employee” they often assume that the person is fresh out of school, without a lot of business experience, or else they are working in a position that doesn’t require a lot of specialized training. There will always be a place for inexperienced or low-skilled temps. But today, thanks to the gig economy, it’s not unusual for very accomplished professionals to be working in temporary positions. This is another time when having a good relationship with a staffing firm can be helpful. Well-qualified people don’t grow on trees. A good staffing firm will have a network of temp employees who are experts in what your company needs so you don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to find someone with 


When you need someone long term 

It makes sense to hire a temp employee when you have a specific end date in mind, in part, because having a temp around too long may put your company at risk legally.

The longer you have a temp employee working for your company, the more likely it is that they may be found to be eligible for benefits. In fact, according to the DOL, temporary employees who work over 1,000 hours in a single year (or roughly six months at full-time employment) are eligible to participate in the company’s retirement plan. They may also be considered eligible for other company benefits and may even have their time as a temp employee be counted toward their overall tenure.

Working with a staffing firm can help mitigate your legal risk with long-term temps because the firm becomes the employer of record. On the other hand, if you need to hire a temp employee on a long-term basis, consider creating a temp-to-permanent position. 

team meeting in office

When it Disrupts your Team Dynamic

Sometimes, hiring temporary workers can damage morale, especially if a temp is brought in because someone has been terminated. Regardless of why someone was terminated, there may very well be resentment for the next person who has that job. Another factor can be anxiety, as in wondering if more terminations or even layoffs are coming. Other times, people may simply not mesh well with the company’s culture. That may have nothing to do with someone’s employment status, so much as the disruption to the team’s dynamic.

When you need to hire a temp employee, it’s important to make sure they are working well with their team. Make sure your supervisors and managers are keeping an eye out for any conflicts that might arise to keep everything moving smoothly.

Another way to prevent conflicts is to consider hiring a temporary team when you have a big project to be completed. By having a dedicated team, the project can be completed quickly while your full-time staff remains focused on their regular work. 

The right staffing firm can truly an asset for your company, as they will work with you as a partner and trusted advisor in helping your staffing needs. It’s a good idea to find the right firm before you need to hire a temp employee. Do some research on LinkedIn, talk to your colleagues and other people in your industry if you need some direction. To get you started, here are some questions you can ask to help you find the right one for your company 

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