One of the challenges of hiring temporary and seasonal employees is figuring out how to motivate them to do a good job. When this motivation is lacking it can seriously compromise the impact and productivity of your entire company. Learn what you can do about it.
Why Having Motivated Temporary Workers is Important
Often, businesses bring on temporary staff as a way to keep expenses down, since these workers typically don’t require the costly benefits and constant paycheck that permanent, full-time employees do. But it is amazing how many of these busineses overlook the extra “costs” associated with bringing in temporary help such as, poor customer service, less attention to quality, little commitment to the company, and higher levels of turnover, and the more apathetic the worker, the greater are these costs. Moreover, when temp workers are unmotivated and unhappy, it can create an unpleasant situation for everyone involved, and this in turn can affect the overall productivity of the entire company.
How to Improve the Motivation of Your Temporary Staff
The following five tips are grounded on a simple fact of human nature: everyone wants to feel valued and that they are making a difference. To the extent that the employer truly values the position (as opposed to going through the motions) and the people who are filling it, then to that extent the these people will rise to the occasion. Period. You don’t have to include them in company-wide meetings (because sometimes in may not be appropriate) and you don’t have to make sure that the job is stimulating (because sometimes it’s just not, and there’s nothing you can do about it.) But you do have to recognize that the person you hired to stock your shelves during the holiday season or answer phone calls or help with a company project is filling a vital business need.
So how do you go about doing this? Consider these five tips to help motivate the temporary staff in your small business:
1. Lay the groundwork. Before you bring in a temporary worker, be sure that you are clear about what you want to get out of the situation. You should create a thought-out, detailed job description and plan of action for any temporary hires. Goals and overall expectations should be realistic and in line with the amount of compensation being offered as well as the experience and skill of those being hired. Why is this important to temporary employee motivation? Because by doing all this, you are giving the implicit message that position is important. If this fundamental element is missing, it will set the tone for the entire temporary employment experience.
2. Check in with your permanent workers. Since your regular employees will typically be working along-side your temporary hires, make sure you recruit their feedback and support in the process. Their positive attitude will in turn rub off on your temporary staff.
3. Make an effort in the vetting process. Spend time bringing in the right people. There are some very good temp workers out there. You just need to know where and how to look for them. If you hire temporary staff on your own then make sure to check up on their references and ask interview questions that will help you to gauge their attitude and motivation level. If you are working with a temp agency and are having difficulties with the people they are sending, then communicate that to them. If your gripes are reasonable and the agency doesn’t respond, then maybe find a new temp agency to work with.
4. Act respectfully to your temporary staff. Acknowledge their work (and their existence as people), offer compliments, and feedback, and maybe even a small bonus along the way.
5. Illicit feedback from previous temp workers. If you let your temporary staff leave without asking them for feedback on the experience, then it’s as if you’ve thrown money down the drain. Based on this feedback you can make any necessary tweaks and improvements to the process, which will help you when you hire temporary staff in the future. Moreover, where more than one person was hired, you should consider handing out an anonymous questionnaire. By doing so, your temporary workers will be more likely to give you an accurate assessment of their experience.
Keep in mind that it’s possible to do all of the above and still be stuck with an unmotivated worker. But he or she will very much be the exception, not the rule. Bottom line: If you consistently value what your temporary staff brings to your business, then they will value it also.