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Tips for Working with Temp Agencies

December 9, 2014 | Jennifer Goodwyn

In certain situations, temporary workers can be beneficial – they're available right away, can meet the needs of your small business at a much lower cost than a regular full-time employee with benefits, and can be used on an as-needed basis. In recent years, more American companies of all sizes have been turning to temp agencies for support. If you're considering using a temp agency for your small business, here's some tips for selecting and working with a temp agency.

Consider the Agency a Business Partner

Staffing agencies have your company's best interest at heart and will be working as an extension of your company; therefore, they should be considered a business partner rather than a service. Spend as much time talking about your company and its needs to a temp agency as you would to a prospective full-time employee; if you pick a good temporary staffing agency and treat them in a professional manner, you might be surprised at the quality of temps they send your way. To keep the relationship strong, stay connected even if you're not currently in the market for their services.

Assess the Costs

If you work with a staffing agency, you could find yourself paying highly hourly rates to temporary workers than permanent employees. This is due to the fact that you'll be paying both hourly wages and an agency fee. Before you choose to work with a temp agency, do the math. In many cases, it's more cost-effective to hire a couple part-time employees and, once you've had time to evaluate their skills, promote one of them to a full-time position. If you plan to turn a part-time temp position into a full-time permanent one, be sure to budget for the permanent salary. It's also a good idea to make sure the temp is interested in staying with the company in a long-term, permanent position.

Provide Detailed Descriptions

This is an extension of the first point – the more information you provide to the agency, the more qualified the employee will be for the position. Not only does the agency save you time and money by sorting through a massive stack of resumes, but they'll choose a handful of candidates they believe are qualified for the position. By providing a surplus of information about your company, the position, and the experience you'd like an ideal candidate to have, you'll speed up and improve the process. If you need someone with highly specialized skills, consider working with more than one agency.

Offer the Agency Feedback

If an agency sends you a temp you're unhappy with, let them know you'd never like to work with that temp again. Similarly, if you believe one of their temps needs more training or is under-qualified for the position, provide the agency with constructive feedback. In doing so, the temp agency will be better informed and can send you a better qualified candidate the next time you use their services. With that in mind, it's important to be realistic when working with temporary employees: don't expect them to come in and do the same quality work as the employee they're filling in for.

Make Temps Feel Comfortable

Once you've selected a temp agency to work with, you'll want to keep their great finds. To be successful with using temps, assign each one a mentor on the staff. This way, all their questions will be answered which will help increase their commitment to your business and the quality of work they provide. On the temp's first day, provide them with a basic orientation that covers basic company policies, and share your company's culture with temps: treat temps as a part of the family, and they'll be happy to stay.