How to effectively use temps and part-timers

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.

  1. The rise of the permanently temporary worker (CNN Money)
  2. Legal concerns about part-time, temporary and seasonal employees (FindLaw)
  3. 7 Tips for Managing Part Time Workers (Inc.)
  4. Managing Part Time Employees (AllBusiness)
  5. Article on the dynamics of managing part-time employees (E. Carmichael)
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