The economic downturn has seen a rise in the use of temporary and part-time labor. These two resource capabilities allow a small company flexibility and cost savings. Temps are typically hired through an agency and are seen as short-term solutions. Part-timers are viewed as lower cost since they don’t usually qualify for benefits such as medical insurance or paid-time off.
These differences can lead to an environment where these individuals feel like, and sometimes are treated as, second-rate team members. As a boss, your job is to ensure that temps and part-timers are used effectively in your organization, and that labor regulations are not inadvertently violated.
Temps are typically straight-forward: there’s a particular project or position that needs a temporary worker (employees on leave are common needs). Make sure a realistic timeline is established and that you have the commitment from the individual and the agency. Understand that a temp typically wants to find a full-time position, so s/he may likely look around while still with you. Clearly define the role and responsibilities and periodically check on the progress. If a temp exceeds 3 months full-time and the work has no end in sight, consider making the position full-time. By then, you will have a good idea of the fit and competencies.
Part-timers can be trickier because you have to determine how to best schedule their limited hours. Since part-timers are not around all the time, they may not be aware of activities and issues that occurred in their absence. It’s a good idea to spend 10 minutes with them at the start of the day to provide any updates and check on their progress (see link #5).
As far as labor regulations, the best advice is to treat both groups like you would any other employee. Don’t assume that a temp can’t sue you because s/he works for the agency, even if the agency is fully insured (which you should ensure anyway). While it’s clear that temps don’t qualify for any benefits, part-timers MAY be eligible, depending on your company policies and agreements with insurance carriers. It all revolves around the number of hours (a typical criteria is 30-32 hours).
Treat these groups with the same respect as a regular employee and they will be effective team members. Put yourself in their place, understand their concerns and limitations, and address them as best you can.
- The rise of the permanently temporary worker (CNN Money)
- Legal concerns about part-time, temporary and seasonal employees (FindLaw)
- 7 Tips for Managing Part Time Workers (Inc.)
- Managing Part Time Employees (AllBusiness)
- Article on the dynamics of managing part-time employees (E. Carmichael)