Temporary Workforce Engagement Matters – Part 1

Pen And Calculator On Financial Spreadsheet

With about 15 percent of the Canadian workforce in temporary positions, more and more companies are using temporary workers as part of lean operations.  According to Tavia Grant, economics reporter for The Globe and Mail, temporary work is growing three times faster in Canada than permanent employment, with the most growth in British Columbia and Ontario. While temporary employment can offer flexible work schedules and arrangements that are beneficial to many, it is also described as precarious work according to a study by McMaster University and the United Way.

With companies using temporary labour at this growing rate, employee engagement for temporary workers becomes just as important as it is for permanent workers. Disengaged workers have lower productivity, lower morale, and higher turnover than engaged workers. It’s a mistake for staffing agencies and employers not to provide engagement to the temporary workforce they need for their business success.

Why Engagement Matters for Temps

Investment in engagement has traditionally been used with the permanent workforce to attract top talent and develop high performance and productivity. With employers increasingly in need of temporary workers, many of whom are younger millennial generation workers with different expectations of work and employers, issues of high turnover and quality standards quickly come into play. Ed Frauenheim, writing for Workforce in “Contingent Workers: Why Companies Must Make Them Feel Valued,” reports that people like Mary Ann Davids, a performance support specialist at a large insurance company call center, see the real results of providing engagement to a younger temp workforce. With her coaching, weekly evaluations and live monitoring, the company gets higher call-service quality from temps and has seen turnover drop from 95 percent to around 25 percent. Davids says the temps she works with crave feedback.

How to Engage Temporary Workers

Employee engagement for temporary workers may not include the same types of formal benefits offered to permanent workers, but many other engagement factors apply to temps. Providing a full orientation, making sure temps have all the necessary resources to do the work, and being prepared to avoid problems will make a big difference in how temporary workers feel and work.

A full, engaging orientation that includes introductions to full-time workers, company culture, and strategic business goals is essential to assimilate them in the workforce. Partnering temp workers with permanent workers as guides or coaches ensures a level of comfort and information that creates collaboration and high productivity.

Provide resources for temporary employees to do the quality work you need. Don’t stick someone in an abandoned conference room with an outdated laptop and minimal instructions and expect the same quality of work as you get from employees with full resources. Training, supplies, and dedicated workspace are as important to temporary workers for productivity and morale as they are for other employees.

Preparing for Temps is Part of Engagement

When no one is ready for temp workers, it creates awkwardness and interrupts normal workflows. Whether you are bringing in temps to take care of a crisis situation or you use temporary employees for a trial period before making permanent hires; prepare for temporary workers. Avoid surprising permanent staff with temporary workers by fully informing everyone about when and why temps are coming in, what they’ll be doing, and how they’re expected to work with them. Have complete workspaces set up for temporary workers before their first day.

Engagement is the key to getting the highest productivity and value from the temporary workforce that you need to take care of customers, fill operations gaps, and build your business.

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