How to onboard temporary employees to your team

The gig economy has made the temp work model popular for employers and employees to work together – with the employer paying for task-based work, rather than full-time employment. 

Often this happens when extra help is needed due to an increase in workload, but can also be the core business model of the company. Sometimes, these temporary employees are hired through staffing agencies, but they may also work directly for the company.

One should not forget that the temps are there to finish the gig and move on. With task-based assignments, the temps don’t have the luxury of shadowing an experienced colleague for multiple days, or going through a week-long onboarding process. 

A temporary employee at work

The temp worker is not a short-term version of the full-time employee. Their instructions and job description should be much more specific. Everything should be prepared for them to get straight to work and get things done. If you want to include temp workers into your business model as an employer, you should really invest in a temp staff onboarding strategy.

Some temps may be familiar with the nature of work if they are recurringly hired by the same company or staffing agency. But others may be brought on board for a single gig based on just a brief asynchronous video interview.

How to set your temp employees up for success

The brief time that can be spent on onboarding is a vital component of the temp worker’s experience. It may be tempting to just match a temp with a work buddy, but this puts a lot of pressure on your full-time employee and their mentoring skills. Even the field supervisor may be too busy to be fully trusted with temp onboarding. 

To ensure the temps and gig workers provide most value within the short time they spend on the task, it’s best to refine and adjust the standard onboarding process for them. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the temp worker, figure out what they need to give their best, and then provide them with the necessary tools, information and support.

Make your temps feel welcome

Although temps may be with your organization for a very brief while, you still want them to have a good time. If they genuinely enjoyed the gig, they may be excited to come and work with you also another time. They might also spread the word about their work experience, and it will be much better marketing for your company if they had a great time. 

Because there’s not much time to introduce company culture to temp workers, you’ll need to create a quick elevator pitch instead. Can you convey the values and attitude with a single sentence? Or just a few words?

If you successfully get your company culture across, you won’t need the temps to read through the whole detailed rulebook about the do’s and don’ts of your job site.

Delegating tasks to temp employees

If the tasks are very simple, it may be enough to provide written guidelines. There should still be someone available to answer questions and clarify the guidelines so the temp worker understands what is expected of them. Make sure that it’s clear how to contact this person, and that they are actually available and willing to deal with the possible avalanche of questions from the temp workers.

Different people may receive information better through different formats, so it can help if you repeat the information in a few different ways. Include images that explain the task in addition to written instructions. Have the instructions recorded as audio or video, if it makes sense for the task. 

A screenshot of temp employee schedule in an app
Communicating tasks and gigs clearly is the foundation of positively engaging your temp employees.

Test your temp staff onboarding strategy

While your instructions may seem clear as day for anyone within your organization, you should still double-check whether it’s the same for a fresh person with no previous experience at your company. 

Put your job onboarding process and instructions through a user testing session, and learn what can be upgraded. It can really upgrade the productivity and effectiveness of the temporary employees if they are able to jump on board quickly and effortlessly.

Common mistakes when onboarding a temp employee

  • Too much information
    Temp staff shouldn’t receive the same volume of onboarding as full-time employees. If you can’t boil it down to a paragraph, you should pay them for the additional time it takes to get acquainted with your company and materials.
  • Not enough information
    No onboarding is not quick onboarding. Everyone’s productivity will drop when temp workers need to pester your full-time colleagues for advice and support.
  • Too complex instructions
    Temp workers don’t know your organization structure or internal lingo. Testing with a friend who doesn’t work at your company will reveal these shortcomings.

Onboarding your temp staff 

Spending time on designing your onboarding process is a great investment if you engage temp workers on a regular basis. 

You can choose various methods to communicate onboarding information to your temp workers. But it doesn’t matter whether you’re sending them an e-mail with instructions attached, give them a sheet of paper with instructions printed on it, or making them sign in to a learning management system – as long as you are clear about what is expected of them. 

How we can help

If you’re here looking for better software for your temp worker management, have a look at what Zelos Team Management has to offer. It’s a simple app that lets you easily schedule and communicate with your temp employees and gig workers.