How to Hire and Manage Temporary Employees

Do you need an extra set of hands for a few weeks or months? You may opt for a temporary employee. Temporary employees can cover for employees on leave, help during your busy season, or fill in gaps in the workplace.

Hiring temporary employees can help you avoid overhiring. It’s a commitment-free approach to hiring that many businesses—particularly industries like healthcare and retail—use for consistency. 

 Read on to learn when to hire a temporary employee, best practices for hiring, and more.

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What is a temporary employee?

A temporary employee, or “temp,” is a worker hired for a limited period. You can hire them yourself or use a staffing agency. Generally, the temporary employee works for you for the established period and leaves. In some cases, you might extend a full-time offer to keep them. 

How long is a temporary position? You may hire temporary employees for a few days, weeks, or months. The contract length depends on your business’s needs. The average temporary duration is 10 weeks.

Typically, you do not have to offer employer-sponsored benefits, such as health insurance, to temporary employees. There are several reasons for this. If you’re using a staffing agency, the agency typically handles benefits. Not to mention, temporary workers have a limited duration of employment with your business, which may end before the typical waiting period for benefits (e.g., 90 days). 

You will likely set up a temporary employment contract that outlines:

  • Compensation
  • Length of employment
  • Work hours
  • Responsibilities

Should you hire temporary employees?

Like any hiring decision, hiring a temporary employee takes careful consideration. Here are some situations where it might make sense to hire a temporary employee. 

1. One of your employees is taking family or medical leave

Do you have an employee taking a leave of absence (e.g., maternity leave)? You can hire a temporary employee to fill the employee’s position while they are on family or medical leave. 

Hiring a temp can ensure business continuity without overburdening your existing employees or pulling them away from their tasks. 

2. You don’t want to extend a permanent offer just yet

A temporary employment situation can be a great way to test the waters. You might hire an employee temporarily with the potential to become a full-time employee. 

You can extend a full-time offer to the temporary employee if they are a good fit and your business needs extra help. Or, the temporary arrangement might prove that the employee was not a good fit or you don’t need someone in the position full-time.

3. You need a seasonal employee during your busy season 

Does your business have a “busy season?” For example, the busy season for accountants is during the first quarter of each year. Retail companies are often busier during the holidays, such as on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday

You may hire temporary employees to help your business during periods of high demand, aka your busy season. 

Hiring temporary employees instead of permanent workers during peak seasons can help you avoid overhiring and needing to lay off employees when demand returns to normal. 

4. You’re in an industry where temp employees are common 

Any business can hire a temporary employee. However, temporary work is more common in certain industries.

Here are some of the industries that may rely on temporary workers:

  • Retail
  • Manufacturing
  • Information technology (IT)
  • Administrative
  • Healthcare
  • Marketing
  • Finance

5. You need to fill short-term gaps in your workplace quickly

Let’s say you have a specific project you need an employee to do. However, none of your employees have the bandwidth or skillset to handle it. 

Or, let’s say an employee leaves. Your business doesn’t need to replace them with a permanent new hire. But, you need someone to help you during the transition. 

You might hire a temporary employee in either of these situations.   

Benefits of hiring temporary employees

From covering busy seasons to providing specialized skills, temporary employees can be a valuable asset in your business. 

Benefits of hiring temporary workers include:

  • Flexibility: You do not have to commit when you hire a temporary employee. 
  • Specialized skills: Temporary employees may have specific skill sets for filling gaps and completing work in your industry. 
  • Quicker hiring process: You can generally hire temporary employees faster than permanent employees, especially if you use a staffing agency. 

How to hire a temporary employee 

Ready to hire a temporary employee for your business? Hiring temporary employees involves several steps, including the following:

  1. Determine the details
  2. Source candidates
  3. Interview candidates

1. Determine the details

Like any new hire, iron out the details before posting a job application for a temporary employee. 

Determine things like:

  • The length of employment
  • Whether the position has the potential to become a full-time job
  • The position responsibilities
  • How many hours the temporary employee needs to work

Once you’ve determined the ins and outs of the temporary position, it’s time to create your job description. List the qualifications, skills, and experience you’re looking for. Consider getting input from your employees. For example, you might consult an employee whose role you’re temporarily filling while they’re on leave. 

2. Source candidates

Next, use your fleshed-out job description to start sourcing candidates. You can source temporary employee candidates through:

3. Interview candidates

Do your due diligence before extending a job offer. Take your time reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates, and conducting background checks. 

Are you using a staffing agency? The staffing agency may conduct the initial screening to help speed up the hiring process.

How to manage temporary employees

Even if you use a staffing agency to hire temporary employees, you should know how to manage your temporary team members. 

Here are a few tips to help you manage your temporary employees alongside your regular workforce:

  • Complete all necessary paperwork: Draft applicable contracts, confidentiality agreements, and new employee forms
  • Train the employee: Set temporary employees up with the tools, equipment, and information they need for success. 
  • Follow the temporary employment contract: Again, your contract should outline the length of the relationship, compensation, and responsibilities. 
  • Communicate with the temporary employee: Like any employee, your temps should know who to report to and understand deadlines.
  • Monitor their performance: You should provide constructive feedback directly to the temporary employee or the staffing agency. This can help address any issues and let the temp know what they’re doing well. 
  • Follow labor laws: Understand and follow applicable federal, state, and local labor laws, such as overtime pay and minimum wage laws. 

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This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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