Whether you’re in retail, hospitality, tourism, or one of the many other industries that find their golden months in the hectic festive season, you’ll almost certainly find yourself snowed under (pun intended) as the final weeks of 2017 approach.

Chances are, you’ve already decided to get some additional help in the form of temporary staff. This guide is designed to help you get the most out of your temporary hire, so read on for our top tips and be sure to leave your own in the comments.

Benefits of hiring temporary staff

If you’re coming into this article blind, or considering a temporary hire in the coming year, then you should know there are a number of benefits to hiring a temp in busy periods.
Temporary employees offer your small business increased flexibility. It can prove too expensive, time-consuming and damaging to morale to hire and fire permanent staff as you adapt to the ebb and flow of your year. Temporary staff allow you to compensate by bringing someone in for a fixed or impermanent length of time.

Temporary staff can bring new skills into your business. Rather than simply hiring for ‘lower-level’ roles to cover workload, you could consider hiring specialists or individuals with a proven record in your industry to impart their wisdom and training on your permanent staff. If you’re a sole trader, this is a good way of plugging your skill gaps when you need to.

It can lead to a great company fit and permanent hire. Bad hires are expensive and can cause damage to a small business. Temporary hires can help in two ways: they give you the chance take your time on the recruitment process without rushing to fill an opening. Alternatively, if the temp shows potential but isn’t a great fit on paper, then a shorter contract gives you chance to evaluate them in the workplace ahead of making an offer.

Your obligations to temporary employees

Fixed term employees

If you hire a fixed-term employee, then they’ll only be with you for a pre-determined length of time. They’ll usually leave when a specific task or event is completed (such as a product launch).

Fixed term employees must receive the same treatment as permanent hires, unless there’s ‘objective justification’ (such as not providing a company car to a seasonal hire due to excessive cost).

Fixed terms employees will also have the same rights as permanent staff – including pay, equivalent benefits packages and protection against redundancy or dismissal.

You don’t have to give any notice of the contract ending, provided it naturally expires at the agreed end date. If the employee has been with you for longer than two years, however, then you’ll have to show there’s a fair reason for their dismissal – for example the completion of their project.

Agency temps

If you’re hiring from an agency, then you’ll have to pay the employee’s National Insurances contributions and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to the agency. It’ll be the agency’s responsibility to ensure workers get their rights, though you’re still responsible for their health and safety.

After 12 weeks of continuous employment in the same role, then agency employees are entitled to the same terms and conditions as permanent employees. As such, the agency needs to be made aware of these T&Cs.

Zero hour contracts

If your employee is on a zero hour or casual contract, then they’ll be on call to work when you need them. You don’t have to give them work, but conversely they don’t have to work when asked.

Zero hour workers are entitled to the same statutory annual leave and National Minimum Wage as regular workers. They’re also legally entitled to ignore any clause in their contract if it bans them from looking for work or accepting a job from another employer.

Keeping your temporary staff productive

Regardless of the contract type or number of hours your temp will work, there are ways to enhance their productivity and ensure they get the most out of their time working with you.
Before they start working for you, it’s a good idea to create an on-boarding program designed specifically for your temporary staff. This won’t need to be comprehensive – it just needs to cover the areas your temp will work in. Remember to specify their specific job role, any measures of success and who they’ll report into. If you’re particularly time-strapped, you might also want to list what does and doesn’t need regular updates – this way you’re not ‘bottle-necking’ any work as your temp waits for sign off or approval.

Once they’re inducted, get your temps to work in teams or pair up with permanent staff members. This way, they can learn the ropes of how your business works – while your employees can pick up some new ideas and ways of working.

If you don’t have a team, say you’re a sole trader looking for an extra pair of hands, then take the time to observe and train your temp up. Sparing a bit of time at the beginning of their contract will help them understand your way of working, which’ll help them integrate faster and spare you the hassle of correcting mistakes or chasing things up later down the line.

As temporary employees are usually on lower wages than permanent staff, money is often a higher motivator – especially around the holidays. Setting cash targets, or offering bonuses for perfect attendance or exceptional performance, is a great way to motivate staff and improve productivity.

Looking forward

Are you considering taking on permanent hires in the near future? Let your temp know, as this is a great motivator – with many temporary jobs taken in the hope of a permanent job offer at the end.

Even if you’re not hiring, offer temps the opportunity to develop new skills they can use in future jobs roles. They’ll be extra motivated in knowing they’re working towards their personal career development, and gaining valuable work experience and results they can point to in future job interviews.

And if your temp proves especially good, keep their contact information on file in the event of future work or roles becoming available.

By making the effort to include your temps in your business, you’ve not only improving their productivity while they worked for you – you’re also creating a lasting impression that can go on to help their future job prospects and enhance the reputation of your brand.

Further reading on temporary hires

Does your business turn over between £50,000 and £500,000? If so, you are eligible for the new Small Business Grants initiative from SmallBusiness.co.uk. We’re giving away £5,000 every month in a free-to-enter competition. Apply now by clicking here. Good luck!

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