How to fail with onboarding temp staff at a staffing agency

If your organization frequently hires temporary staff to keep up with client demands or seasonal fluctuations, a standardized onboarding process is key for efficiency and consistency, especially given the high turnover rate common in such scenarios.

For projects with tight deadlines and a need for swift integration of temporary staff, it’s best to set up a standardised process in your onboarding software. A repeatable onboarding process ensures new hires can quickly get up to speed, optimizing project timelines.

Onboarding temporary staff should focus on swiftly integrating them into their roles, emphasizing job-specific training rather than overwhelming them with exhaustive company policies. Time constraints often make it impractical to have lengthy mentorships or organic immersion into company culture.

Anticipating growth or an increase in temporary staff hiring? A repeatable onboarding process facilitates scalability, ensuring the organization can efficiently accommodate a growing number of hires. Designing a functional onboarding process for temporary employees is crucial to their success. To begin, steer clear of these common pitfalls that will stop your temps from integrating to the team.

Pitfall #1: No onboarding

The job is pretty simple, and they can ask questions if anything comes up. So let’s just get them straight to work! 

​​Skipping onboarding is like starting a road trip without a map. Even for seemingly uncomplicated roles, onboarding is the GPS that ensures temp staff know exactly where they’re headed—understanding their role, responsibilities, and what the company expects from them. It’s the smooth on-ramp into the workplace, even if the job appears straightforward.

Simple jobs often involve the use of specific tools or following particular processes. Onboarding is the place to provide an introduction to these tools and processes. Even if these are common procedures across the industry, it’s likely that every company has minor custom details that may need attention.

Also safety is non-negotiable. Just like fastening your seatbelt before a journey, onboarding ensures temp workers know the safety protocols and rules. It’s about equipping them with the right gear for a secure ride, reducing accidents and ensuring everyone stays on the right side of the law.

Pitfall #2: Full onboarding

We already have the onboarding built for our full-time employees, so let’s just use the same process! Maybe we can remove some paragraphs that don’t apply, but otherwise it’s for the same job, right?

Imagine trying to dive into a thrilling computer game, only to be handed a dictionary-sized instruction manual that you NEED to read first. It’’s overwhelming and you are very likely to just put the controller down. The same goes for a short-term employee faced with a mountain of onboarding information at the start of their shif. It’s a surefire way to send them running.

The golden rule here is balance. Just as you wouldn’t pour a gallon of milk into a small cup of coffee, onboarding for temp staff needs to match the time they have to actually get work done.

Unlike full-time employees, temp staff don’t need the whole onboarding buffet. Instead, think of it as a ‘tapas’ approach, a taste of what they need to know.

Typically, dedicating about 10% of their total assignment duration to onboarding strikes the right chord. For example, if they’re on the job for a month, investing 3 days for onboarding is a fair deal. For week-long gigs, a half-day of onboarding is the sweet spot. It’s like a quick tune-up before hitting the highway, ensuring they’re set for the rest of the journey.

And for those scheduled for an 8-hour shift? An hour of onboarding is the perfect ‘appetizer’ to get them into the work groove without feeling like they’re drowning in information. Just enough to get them up to speed and ready to hit the ground running.

Pitfall #3: Irrelevant onboarding

We don’t really have a specific job description for the temps, but we do need extra hands all the time. I’m sure they’ll just fit right in and be useful. We can show our corporate presentation at the onboarding session to inspire.

When a company brings in staff without a clear plan, it’s already a chaotic scene. Adding an irrelevant onboarding session to that confusion just pours salt on the wound. Are you giving them a script for a play they’re not in? Presentations that don’t link to what they’ll be doing will leave temp staff feeling like they’re in the wrong show. If the play’s plot (their job description) is vague too, a lackluster orientation makes it feel like they’re being invited to participate with no real purpose.

If the job assignments are too scattered to provide material for a focused onboarding, the session can focus on fostering adaptability and instilling an understanding of the organization’s culture and processes. 

Pitfall #4: Keeping the big picture a secret

If they’re only doing their specific part, they don’t need to know anything else! It’s not like their part is actually related to the before and after. Our full time employees can check for quality at handoff and micromanage with feedback, if necessary!

Not understanding why you’re doing a task at work can lead to hours of effort down the drain and a hit on employee motivation. Off-goal assignments need to be reworked, and multiple hours of effort going down the drain is an obvious hit on employee motivation and engagement. When temp employees understand how their tasks contribute to the broader goals and mission, they can align their efforts to meet these objectives more effectively.

Introducing a big picture at orientation does not mean that temps need to learn about the early history of the company, or align themselves with long-term business goals. But it will be very useful for them to know the origin of the tasks that end up on their table, and what will happen after they’ve performed their job.

If there are specific metrics that are used to measure the success of their performance, it’s a good idea to also explain the metrics that determine a win for the whole department. When the roles and responsibilities of temporary employees are relatively consistent across different hires, a repeatable onboarding experience ensures that each individual is equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to fulfill those roles effectively.

How we can help

Are you looking for onboarding and management software for your staffing agency? Zelos is a very simple staffing app that gives your temps a quick and soft landing to picking up tasks and assignments.

Get in touch with our team for more information or sign up for your free account on our website!