To Get the Most Out of Your Temporary Employees, Use People Management Basics!

To Get the Most Out of Your Temporary Employees, Use People Management Basics!

by Jeanne Knutzen | May 1, 2020

0 Author-Jeanne, Blog, Flexible Staffing Strategies, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS, Management.Supervision get connected


As Northwest companies utilize more temporary and contract workers to manage business uncertainty, the focus will shift back to how these employees are managed to optimize performance.

As an employer of a fairly large team of temporary and contract employees, we pay close attention to what they tell us  are elements of their experience that most impacts their  assignment  satisfaction.   We have multiple  conversations with them throughout their assignment, plus  ask them to participate in a survey of their  “assignment experience” when the assignment ends. What we’ve uncovered is that there are specific things that both PACE and our employer clients can do while our employees are on assignment that make a big difference to their attitude towards their job, and ultimately their performance.  We think what we have learned is worth sharing!

When it comes to managing temporary workers, PACE and our clients are co-employers, requiring both of us to do our part in keeping our employees motivated to perform at their best.

There are components of their overall work experience that our team has to manage.    Timely and accurate pay, for example, often tops our employee’s list of things that matter, and only PACE touches that.  Other components of the assignment experience are more directly controlled by our client.

Here’s a short list of things we know will have a positive impact on the productivity and retention of the employees we assign to your work-site.

Most of these ideas are not new, and represent the same or similar factors  important to their core employee counterparts.  The good news is that most of the items on this list are “little things”, easily implemented.

1. First Day Stuff.

What we have found is, there are some activities that happen on our employees first day of work that set the stage for higher levels of engagement (and productivity) down the road.

Personal contact with their on-site manager.

Temporary employees, just like core employees, want to know how you view the work they are being asked to do – why it’s important to you, the team and the company.  A sense of purpose for what your temp will be doing – very specifically, how they will contribute to your larger goals – appears to be one of the important links to ongoing engagement.   

They also like to hear from you (not just us) on how long their assignment is scheduled to last.  As their employer, we  let them know what we believe about assignment length,  but hearing the same message from you, learning more about your business need,  has apparently even more impact.

Obviously, its important for your information and ours  to be in sync – “staffing 101”.

Meet the Team.  

Personal introductions to teammates help the team get comfortable with who they will be working with and their respective roles on the team.  If you’re managing a large department, or if the employee will be required to interact with team members in other departments, a list of who they will be talking to, what they do, and how to reach them, can be a valuable road map for new employee’s.  We’ve found these things impact their ability to solve problems and get work done quickly as issues arise.

Rules of the Road.

Discuss any team specific policies or practices that the temporary employee should know about.  Although our part is to make them aware of any company wide policies that may impact them, going over all those “how we do things around here” stuff, is best communicated by their on site supervisor.

2. Availability of Support Matters!     

Most clients provide their temporary  employees with information about who to go to for what.   Making sure those on site supports are available when needed is what our employees tell us matters most.  

The majority of temporary employees have a high need to be busy and productive.  They hate wasting time waiting for instruction, but they don’t want to make a mistake that will require a work-over either.    Not having an “available go to” is frequently on the list of assignment detractors.

3. “Temp Relevant” Training/Support    

Many temporary jobs require some form of on- the- job training or instruction before they can begin work.  When the “training” is not quite right, the impact on the performance or retention of your temporary employees can be immediate.   Most important is that onsite instruction be organized into manageable chunks – not too much, not too little.   (Training programs designed for core workers are often over kill for temporary workers, requiring them to learn material that may or may not be relevant to them as a temp.)

Keep in mind that training models that lack the flexibility to accommodate differences in learning style, will often leave some employees over whelmed, others bored – and can result in issues with attendance and ultimately assignment turnover.

Don’t know if your training program is or is not working for your temporary employees?  Ask them.  We’re pretty sure they’ll let you know if they feel ready to “make it happen”

4. Supervisors Who Know the Rules of the Road  

The relationships involved in temporary staffing – between the client company and their agency, the  temporary or contract employee and their agency, and between you and the temporary employee – are getting more, not less,  complex as employment regulations grow.   When the supervisors managing our temporary employees, are unclear about how this “whole temp thing” works, chances are they will do or say something that will confuse our employees about those relationships, or worse case, put your company at risk.

This is our short list of what temp supervisors need to know as part of a well run temporary staffing program.  In some cases the specifics of what they need to know are the specific processes  that have been addressed between HR and PACE … but in others is just basic “co employer” information that needs to be shared with anyone who interacts with a workforce made up of people who don’t work for you directly.

  • How absences and tardies will be handled……the importance of having a way for the temp to let both PACE and their on sigte supervisor know if they are going to be absent or late to work
  • How they handle a temp who is under performing or who they suspect of misconduct
  • How best to give feedback – to who, about what
  • When and why they can request a temp be removed
  • What to do if a temp asks for an increase in pay
  • How their temporary employee can apply for a permanent job with their company
  • When they can hire a temp for what cost
  • Limits of duties they can assign to the temp
  • Who to talk with about a change in an assignment – regarding how long the temp will be working, changes in work requirements. etc .

For employers with multiple hiring managers, the PACE team would be glad to do an online presentation to teach supervisors how to handle these and other common temporary staffing issues.

5. Pay Attention to those “Moments of Truth” in the Assignment Cycle.

There are several.

  • The critical first day stuff was described above.
  • The first week sets the tone for how the employee will expect to be treated throughout their assignment and in many cases, determines if they view the assignment as just a job or an opportunity to contribute.  An onboarding plan that pays attention to everything that needs to happen in that first week can have a big pay-off down the road.
  • If you permanently hire a temporary employee who was brought on board at the same time as other “temps”, pay close attention to those not hired.  Keep them in the loop of your hiring plans.  Let them know if there is something about their work they can improve upon in order to be considered for hire.  Let them know how they are contributing as a temporary employee, even if you are not yet ready to hire them.
  • In strategic staffing scenarios, where temporary employees are 70% or more of a workforce doing mission critical work, you can use the employee’s own performance metrics to see where they likely are in their motivational cycle.  In an industrial or call center setting, for example,  you can actually statistically identify the point in the assignment where an employee’s performance starts to deteriorate.  Some employers use these points to re-staff the role, or change the work content of temporary employees they want to retain.
  • Long term temp assignments create special challenges, as it is easy to assume the employee will  just keep doing what they’ve always done.   While pay and benefit programs are the responsibility of your staffing agency, not you, pay attention if you suddenly see a lull in motivation or performance as it may signal the need for some change in pay or benefit eligibility that is causing the employee to feel under employed. Also consider providing your own special recognition of their contribution to your team at the key benchmarks.  Never take long term temps for granted or assume they don’t want to be hired directly.  Most do.

6. Thank Yous Matter!

Last but not least on your list of  “ things you can do” is ongoing recognition for your temporary worker’s good work and contribution.   Temporary employees are just like all employees in that they work best when their work is recognized and appreciated – when they know their work matters, and that someone noticed.

At PACE we have a variety of internal recognition programs that acknowledge the work of our high performing employees achieved over multiple assignments.  When it comes to work  done on individual assignments, small and frequent recognition’s can go a long way to keep temporary employees  motivated to do their best!


PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 40 years.

A  4 time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditions, direct hire professional recruiting services, Employer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

To learn more about how partnering with PACE will make a difference to how you find and hire employees,  contact our Partner Services and Solutions team at 425-637-3312, e mail us at or visit our website at www.



We’d Love Your Comments on this Blog…

In today’s market, its never too early to get started on your next staffing challenge…..

Connect Now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Post Next Post