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3 Factors to Consider When Using Temporary Staffing to Fill Hiring Gaps

Christine Proffitt
Christine Proffitt

Though it might not feel like it's the right time to hire permanent staffers, consider temporary staffing services as a bridge to get you through this crazy year.

When the pandemic first hit and unemployment skyrocketed, businesses immediately tightened their budgets. Some even began laying off workers in anticipation of economic woes. Six months later, unemployment is still nearly twice what it was when COVID-19 shutdowns began, though it is improving. 

Managers, team heads and executives are questioning whether they should wait to source job candidates. They might see a growing need for new part-time or full-time workers, but they hesitate to bring anyone aboard. While some reluctance makes sense, not pursuing strong potential hires could prove problematic for businesses primed to scale, grow and adjust.

When is it time to hire an employee?

How are leaders supposed to know it's time to start sourcing for anticipated openings? A good first step is to weigh sourcing pros and cons based on what happened during the initial stages of the pandemic.

For instance, the immediate aftermath of COVID-19 caused quite a few industries to skip hiring and instead make do with their current teams as a wait-and-see maneuver. The companies that had the ability to interview job seekers at the time were able to choose from the best of the best, and they could close deals faster with superstars who were eager to get back in the game.

With unemployment rates dropping, talented applicants are naturally beginning to leave the job market. It doesn't mean that they're necessarily prepared to sign on the dotted line, but it's not a bad idea to get your name out, work on branding and manage your corporate reputation to win some high performers.

Throughout the pandemic, our philosophy has been to continue to source great people regardless of whether unemployment rises or falls. This allows us to avoid the trap of a "there's enough to go around for everyone mindset" or relegate ourselves to accepting the closest fit rather than the best candidate. Nothing is worse than making a bad hire, even if that hire is a temporary worker. Underperforming temp workers can severely impact business outputs, negatively affect culture and increase attrition just as surely as full-time employees.

Of course, some businesses still waffle even as they realize that they're limiting themselves by not considering any talent sourcing. After all, waiting to source does save money, at least in the short run. Plus, a reduced headcount requires less managerial and leadership time.

Nonetheless, not snagging prospective hires now could be a mistake. If business needs suddenly shift and prompt an influx of orders for a company, it could be unable to manage the intense flow effectively. Similarly, a surprise need for new talent may lead to ineffective, rushed onboarding and poor training of applicants who are not quite right for the role or the environment.

Those missteps can have long-term consequences: More than a quarter of participants in a LinkedIn survey said they would actively discourage other people from applying to a company if they had a bad hiring experience.

Does this mean companies should immediately push to hire new team members on a full-time basis to lock in prime candidates before they disappear from Glassdoor or Indeed? Not necessarily, but there are other options. One clever way to keep stellar applicants in the pipeline is to fill open positions with well-vetted, high-achieving temporary staff members.

Ready to join the many companies hiring temporary workers?

If you're feeling the need to use temporary staffing in the coming months, you'll want to consider a few matters first. Below are some steps to help you feel more comfortable with your decision and ensure that anyone who starts working – whether in-person or virtually – is a good fit with your team.

1. Understand your temporary staffing options.

Hiring a temporary worker isn't a one-size-fits-all endeavor. For example, you might want to hire a classic temporary worker who fulfills a role that’s needed for a specific length of time. Perhaps it’s a seasonal help desk representative. It could also be a floating administrative assistant during periods when executives tend to take their vacations, or it could be 20 or more temporary workers to cover your hectic fulfillment season. On the other hand, you might be more interested in a temp-to-hire candidate that enables you to test the applicant on the job.

Full-time staffing agency professionals may also offer a direct-hire choice, allowing you to outsource your recruiting needs entirely. Instead of sinking employee time into hiring, you can pay someone else to do the heavy lifting on your behalf. The more you learn about the vast possibilities of temporary work and workers, the more easily you can set up a flexible workforce that gets work done effectively and on time.

2. Determine your peak season headcount.

To make the best use of temporary workers, you want to understand how many people you need on your payroll at any given time to support demand. As an example, some companies are heading into peak holiday shopping and buying season. They're planning for the fourth quarter and may need to adjust the number of people working first shift, second shift, or all shifts to meet demand and keep service at a high level.

Although forecasting staffing needs might be more challenging in 2020 than in years past, plan to use your legacy data as a guide to your ideal headcount. Sift through past records to figure out how you can flex temporary staff should your business demands shoot through the roof.

Look for the most cost-efficient way to maintain your business continuity staffing model without adding to your permanent headcount. Have the discussion sooner rather than later so you can spring into action when it's necessary.

3. Accentuate your positives.

Highlight the benefits you can offer while recruiting traditional temporary or temp-to-hire workers. Even if you're hiring a temporary worker for a few weeks, make sure the candidate's assignment experience is the same as if the worker were a permanent hire. Include any temporary employees in team activities and meetings, for instance. By including their voices in the discussion, you'll benefit from a more diverse workforce and strengthen your culture.

In fact, having many people from a variety of backgrounds has been shown to be profitable for companies of all sizes. Companies that are inclusive are about 1.7 times more likely to be innovative, and highly diverse workforces tend to exceed average industry revenue expectations by 35%.

Are there significant challenges in the talent sourcing and acquisition process right now? Absolutely. But it's important not to lose the opportunity to set your business up for a record-smashing 2021.

Image Credit: Ridofranz / Getty Images
Christine Proffitt
Christine Proffitt,
business.com Writer
See Christine Proffitt's Profile
Christine Proffitt is the vice president of sales at Integrity Staffing Solutions, a full-service staffing agency that ranks in the top 2% of agencies across the country for quality service based on ClearlyRated’s “Best of Staffing” client survey.