Today's business climate can be volatile: Fast-paced one quarter, much slower the next. These ups and downs can make it hard to maintain an appropriate number of employees. Hire too many people, and you might have to lay off some when work slows down. Hire too few, and you're sure to have at least a few burned-out employees during crunch time.
But there's one solution many companies are using these days: a flexible staffing plan. Professionals from a temp agency can help during year-end close and when tax deadlines loom, periods when you know your accounting team will be busy. They can also assist when sudden growth in business activity or changes in financial regulations that create new audit requirements make your staff's workload too heavy to handle.
Temp agencies go by various names, including staffing agency, recruiter, employment agency, search firm and staffing firm. But they all provide the same basic function: They find job candidates for client firms for a fee.
A good temp agency can help your company identify when it makes the most sense to hire on a project, temporary or temporary-to-full-time basis. But to ensure everything goes smoothly, before you contact any staffing firm, consider the following:
Make a list of the qualifications you're looking for
Consider what you need from the temporary professional you're looking to hire. For example:
- What technical skills are needed for the role?
- How important are soft skills, like cross-functional communication or inductive reasoning?
- Are the tasks sensitive enough that you'll require the interim professional to work primarily on-site?
- Could the person filling this role convert to a full-time employee? If so, when and under what circumstances?
The answers to these questions will give you a good starting point when you're working with a temp agency to craft a job description.
You'll also want to tell the firm about your organization's culture. Information about dress code, normal working hours and overtime policy can be extremely helpful to your staffing specialist in finding the right interim worker for you.
Consult with your team
Let your employees know you're planning to bring in a temporary professional and think about including full-time staff in the process. Ask them which tasks or projects make sense to shift to a contingent staffer. Your team might be able to help with preparing orientation materials and advising whether to include a contractor in internal team meetings. This way, they'll be more invested in the process – less likely to feel their jobs are threatened by the use of a temporary worker and more likely to welcome the project professional when he or she arrives.
Prepare your office for a temporary worker
Decide who will provide day-to-day supervision for the interim professional you bring on board, making sure to choose an individual with a high degree of familiarity with the scope of the role to be staffed. Also, make sure you have a designated work area for the temporary professional that, at the very least, includes a desk with all the tools and equipment he or she might need to complete the job.
Even if a worker from a temp agency has all the specialized skills you require, he or she might still need training on your specific tools and projects. Provide him or her with guides to your systems or have his or her supervisor show the person the ropes.
Communicate regularly with your staffing specialist
Make sure you're talking with your temp agency staffing manager at key points: After the contingent staffer starts, partway through the assignment and as the contract comes closer to expiring.
Once the assignment is complete, stay in touch with the temp agency. Chances are your company may need contingent staff again. Asking for and providing feedback about how a placement went helps set the stage for the next time.