Many businesses find themselves in a position of needing short-term or temporary staff, for example, to cover an unexpected event like illness or maternity cover or when your business needs help fulfilling a large and/or unexpected order. As a result, short-term hiring is often a knee jerk reaction and based on a desire to get someone in quickly. The pressure to fill the vacancy can often suspend the normal processes used for hiring permanent staff.
Let’s look at 5 common mistakes that even experienced leaders make in this situation and, more importantly, how you can avoid them.
1 Do you need someone?
It may be an obvious starting point but one which you overlook in your desire to act and employ someone quickly. No matter how tight your deadline, make time to work out:
- What role/jobs do you need someone to perform? Write down exactly what tasks you need fulfilled to meet your job description, workflow and tasks you need doing.
- Is there someone already in your organisation who could do these tasks? For example, do you have part-time staff or regular staff who may welcome extra income working more hours?
- Would you be better outsourcing the job rather than bringing someone in-house? For example, if you need someone to help with your payroll, would it be cheaper and/or more effective to ask another business, such as an accountant to do part or all of your payroll for the limited time you need?
2 Maintain your budget
Before you employ someone calculate what the costs of employing temporary staff are in terms of bringing them up to speed with your business and the time it will take them to be working at 100%. Clarify whether this will keep you within your budget. So, for example, unless there are other factors involved (such as retaining a good customer/client) you don’t want to bring on temporary staff to find that the amount you are being paid means that you are able to fulfil an order but not make a profit.
Bear in mind that
- You will usually need to pay more per hour for temporary staff than regular staff and this can be a deciding factor when determining whether to employ short-term staff as opposed to outsourcing the tasks.
- You will also need to calculate the time cost spent in “training” temporary staff. No matter how easy the tasks may seem or how qualified the individual worker is they will need at least basic support whilst they find their feet. Someone must provide this and whilst they are doing their own tasks will remain undone too.
3 Fulfilling your criteria – getting the best person for the role
Whatever the role you are filling, you need to make sure that you get the best person, even if you are intending to employ them for only a short time.
Every business should have a recruitment policy and process and you should follow this irrespective of how long the staff member will be employed by you because employing the wrong person can be disastrous for your business.
Your policy should include making sure that you not only have a job description but also a person specification to outline the qualities required for the role before you start recruiting.
At the same time make sure you follow your own checking procedures. For example, if your business requires your staff to have professional qualifications or criminal records checks take the time to make the same checks that you would for a permanent member of staff, otherwise you could be placing your business in a very precarious position.
4 Get it in writing
It’s all too easy to think that because you’re employing on a temporary basis you don’t need to have a written contract or follow the same employment laws and regulations.
Failing to get an agreement in place could be the downfall of your business. Imagine the impact on your business if
- you breach any employment laws because of your failure to confirm the basics in writing
- your temporary employee feels it is acceptable to disclose confidential information because you have failed to cover this aspect in an agreement
- your employees must have a clean driving licence or a particular professional certification but you fail to get their agreement to adhere to this
5 Plan ahead
Finally, working on the basis that you may need to employ a temporary member of staff at some time it makes sense to think about this eventuality before it happens.
- Take simple steps such as for potential outsourcers and obtain essential information
- Take the time to examine other potential resources such as local colleges and universities who may have students who want part-time roles
- Build up a bank of people who may be suitable – for example semi-retired people who do not want to work full-time but are often available at short notice
- Keep job descriptions for every role up to date
This way, and when you do need someone at short notice at least some of the groundwork will have been covered.