Temp Works!

Published: Jan 24, 2019
Modified: Mar 26, 2020

By Keith E. Ayers

Looking for committed and passionate employees that can be hired on a temporary basis? Yes, it sounds like an oxymoron, but if managers approach the issue the right way, it is possible.

Beginning 2011, all signs point toward further economic recovery and an increase in hiring. However, as witnessed in previous recoveries, the initial stage of this process begins by adding more temporary positions to the private sector.

The New York Times reported that the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 26% of 1.17 million private sector jobs added during 2010 were temporary. In light of this, the challenge for managers will be to engage short-term workers and help them become passionate about what they do, even if the job only lasts a limited amount of time and the benefits are not as great as they are for full-time workers.

Why is employee passion important? According to Human Resource Magazine, employee disengagement costs the U.S. economy 350 billion dollars each year. As temporary workers become a larger part of the overall workforce, it becomes vital that managers understand how to unlock the full value of their short-term employees.

Define Your Motivation

The first step to engage temporary employees begins before the job offer. In the initial phases of hiring short-term workers, managers need to define the motivation behind their decision. Defining the motivation should produce a statement that looks or sounds something like, “I am hiring this person as a temporary worker because…” or “I’m not hiring this person on a permanent basis because…”

Using this statement will help determine whether they are hiring workers for the right or wrong reasons. The wrong reasons include hiring a temporary worker to fill a full-time position solely to save costs or to have an employee that is more easily “disposable” than a permanent one. Workers will not give their full commitment when they sense that they are being used or abused by employers. Skeptical employees will ultimately translate to a bad customer experience and to loss of revenue in the long run.

There are a number of reasons when hiring short-term help is useful. These reasons include:

  • There is a need for more labor over a short period of time
  • There is a need for an employee with a certain skill for a particular project
  • A position is contracted out and both parties are mutually satisfied

Employees should be told during the hiring process why they will be working on a temporary basis. Managers should not leave their motivation up to the employees’ imagination. Otherwise, they will most likely assume that the manager is just trying to cut costs. Managers who are open about their intentions and motivations will start the relationship off right, allowing employees to focus on the job ahead and set the stage for them to climb the Passion Pyramid™.

Climb the Passion Pyramid™

In order for temporary workers to feel passionate and engaged about the job they do, they have “needs” that have to be filled. As these needs are filled employees move up the Passion Pyramid™ and managers build a powerful business. The advantages to having employees at the top of the Passion Pyramid™ are virtually endless. They are more productive. They produce higher quality work. They are an advocate of the company. They are willing to go the extra mile. The list goes on. Here are the five needs and the methods for filling them:

Need 1: To Be Respected. Because managers are in a position of power, disrespecting employees can happen easily and unintentionally. Many times managers aren’t even aware that they’ve done anything wrong. As a result, one of the most important things leaders can do to demonstrate respect is listen.

Need 2: To Learn and Grow. Managers should explicitly offer to help new employees learn aspects of the job they don’t understand. However, they should also be careful not to micromanage the work that the employees have a good handle of.

Need 3: To Be an Insider. Employers should be creative about forming ice breakers, including involving all workers in company events and allowing for situations beyond work where employees can talk. Connection is key to feeling like an insider.

Need 4: To Do Meaningful Work. To help provide meaning to a job, employers should show temporary workers what the purpose is behind what they do and how it contributes to the company’s success. Additionally, setting goals for employees and offering the possibility of “temp to perm” can help make work meaningful.

Need 5: To Be on a Winning Team. While there is no single factor that guarantees the creation of a high-performing team, empowering employees and focusing on performance greatly increase the odds. This involves having an extremely clear vision for the company and allowing employees the space and responsibility to help make it a reality.

Why Focus on Passion?

The flood of temporary hiring is most likely a sign that the economy is recovering and will lead to more permanent jobs. However, in order to get to that point, temporary employees need to help create the additional revenue to allow managers to feel comfortable enough to create full-time positions. As a result, leaders need to inspire short-term workers to give their best work. They can do this by defining their hiring motivations and helping employees climb the Passion Pyramid™. Ultimately, the leaders who do follow through will reap the benefits of the 350 billion dollar cash pile that managers of disengaged companies leave sitting on the table every year.

About the Author(s)

Keith E. Ayers is president of Integro Leadership Institute, a global business, management, and leadership consultancy firm with offices in Australia and associates located around the world. He is the author of Engagement is Not Enough (Elevate 2008) which show leaders how to create an organization of passionate workers in pursuit of a common purpose. For more information visit www.integroleadership.com.