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How to use a staffing agency to hire temporary workers

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A staffing or placement agency usually has a roster of qualified, pre-screened workers ready to start on short notice. A temporary worker (or “temp”) can be especially helpful if your business is small and lacks hiring expertise.

Temp workers are typically hired for periods ranging from a day to a few months. They are paid by the staffing agency, which signs a contract with your business for the temp’s services.

Here are some tips on how best to use staffing agencies to fill non-permanent positions.

1. Fill in gaps

A temp worker is worth considering when you have unexpected or short-term labour gaps—for example, because of medical leave, vacations, a sudden large order or extra seasonal demand.

Staffing agencies traditionally supplied lower-paid workers, such as secretaries, movers and labourers. But many now also offer higher-paid staff, including salespeople, bookkeepers and programmers.

2. Hire the right agency

Ask around in your industry and among your business associates for names of reputable staffing agencies that serve your type of business. Look for an agency with a proven record of providing reliable workers for the position you need as well as a good reputation for communicating with clients and record-keeping.

3. Don’t neglect onboarding

While temps are used to jumping from job to job, you’ll get more out of them if you do adequate onboarding. Orientation can be less extensive than for employees, but you should still greet the temp on their first day, introduce them to your team, show them around, set up a workspace, provide needed instruction or training, and explain company policies and procedures. It is helpful to assign a mentor or buddy to help the temp integrate and answer any questions. The mentor and/or supervisor should check in regularly with the temp to sort out any integration issues.

4. Consider hiring

If a temp worker is a good fit, your company may want to hire them for a long-term position. Staffing agencies often charge a fee if a company hires a temp within six months of their start date.

5. When a temp may not be best

Hiring a contract or permanent worker is probably a better choice than a temp if you have a longer-term staffing need—for example, six months or longer. Staffing agencies charge you a premium on top of the temp’s income to cover overhead and profit margin. That means over the longer run, hiring an employee directly is likely to prove cheaper.

A contract or permanent hire is also probably more suitable for complex or responsible positions that require a larger investment in training and integration and are more critical for your business.

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