According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people working in temporary help services has increased almost 25% since January 2010.  This is astronomical growth, especially when compared to a growth rate of less than 2.5% for all employees (non-farm payroll) during that same time.  Companies in all industries and in all sectors are increasing their use of temporary workers, because they provide a flexible staffing solution that is necessary in today’s work environment.

But with the increase usage of temporary workers, comes a difficult onboarding process.  With a steady stream of temporary workers walking through your door, how do you ensure that this process is as smooth and seamless and painless as possible?

Before we start, let’s look at a couple of reasons why you should make this effort in bringing temporary workers onboard.

  • Just because a position is “temporary”, it does not mean that a new person should be brought in every day.  Most temporary workers have embraced a flexible schedule.  You want them to choose to stay so you don’t have call in and re-train someone new every few days.
  • It is very easy for temporary workers to feel isolated if they are not successfully integrated into the organization.  This can be extremely counter-productive.  They (as well as any other type of worker) will worker harder for an organization that they feel connected to.
  • The sooner everyone gets to know everyone else, the faster trust builds and the stronger communication becomes.

So, now that we have the “why”, let’s discuss the “how”:

  • Make them part of the team. Seasonal employees can easily feel isolated if an onboarding program doesn’t successfully connect them to the organization.   Introduce them to others on the team, and not just with their name and job title.  Temporary workers need to know who else is on the team, their roles, and their specialties.  This works in reverse also.  Employees need to know who the temporary workers are and what they can do. The sooner people are comfortable turning to each other, the faster work gets done and the less time you spend being a point person.
  • Don’t just tell the temporary worker what they will be doing, tell them why.   Just as I did above, give the person some context for their role. Everyone needs to know the “why” in addition to the “how”.   Explaining to the new arrivals why the tasks are done and why they need to be done in a certain way, frames the job for the temporary worker   It gives them perspective. Once this is done, you will be amazed at how quickly temporaries can become effective contributors.
  • Teach them to be self-reliant.  Make sure that the temporaries know where to go for answers.   Part of the team member introductions should include informing the temporaries on everyone’s expertise and areas of responsibility.   Otherwise, you will always remain the point-person.  This is ineffective, since you will have to re-direct them constantly to the right person.  In addition, make sure (if applicable) they know how to access shared drives and web sites for needed materials and information.

By treating temporary workers like the rest of your team, you’ll create a more cohesive and efficient workforce.   Temporary workers who have been effectively onboarded are usually more willing to accept a direct hire offer when available or accept another chance to work with your company. These returning workers will be more knowledgeable about your policies, processes and culture, allowing the onboarding process to be even more seamless.