Temporary hires can help your small business adapt to changing seasons and demands, but they also come with their own unique challenges. To help, our Seasonal Workers Series is providing expert advice on hiring and managing temporary employees.
Last week, we explored the interview questions that will help you find the best temporary employees.
This week: integrating your temporary hires into existing staff.
No matter what the atmosphere of your workplace, bringing in temporary hires can sometimes result in a strained relationship between them and permanent staff. “It is very common,” says Danny Nelms, president of Work Institute, an employee engagement and retention consultancy in Tennessee. “Temporary and seasonal staff are often bullied or simply ignored by permanent staff.”
Unfortunately, bullying in the workplace isn’t new. A 2012 survey found that 45% of Canadian full-time employees had felt bullied at work, 26% of which ended up quitting their jobs to get away from it. And turnover isn’t the only repercussion: a hostile or tense work environment can lead to reduced productivity and make it much more difficult to find quality talent in the future.
Luckily, there are steps you can take as an employer to prevent bullying and hostility before it starts. When it comes to navigating the relationship between temporary and permanent staff, here are a few things you can do:
Explain why your company needs temporary help
Your most important tool is communication. “The number one issue is to ensure the permanent staff understand why it is important to use seasonal and temporary staff,” says Nelms. That tension arises out of a lack of understanding – meaning, they don’t understand why temporary or seasonal staff have been brought on in the first place, and they don’t see the benefits that extra help might bring. “They often see it as not hiring enough full-time employees or even taking money out of their pockets by limited overtime,” he says. Clearly explain the role, or roles, that temporary hires will be taking on, and how they will alleviate stress or workload for the existing team.
Create a mini onboarding program
It’s very common to forgo onboarding for temporary staff in favour of more specific training on their task or project. “Very seldom are they provided the cultural and social onboarding that full-time employees are provided,” says Nelms. Integrating even a truncated version of your onboarding program will help your temporary staff to integrate more seamlessly into the office landscape, and connect with their coworkers organically.
Clearly outline your stance on bullying
“Bullying or mistreating seasonal or temporary workers cannot be tolerated by the organization,” says Nelms. “Set high standards for how those individuals are going to be treated.” In other words, don’t leave them work it out among themselves. Be sure to check in regularly with all temporary and permanent staff, and keep an eye out for any signs of a problem.
Set an example for your team
As a leader, you should always be treating all your employees with respect. But when it comes to preventing friction between team members, it becomes all the more important to lead by example. Engage with your team members often, and encourage interaction between permanent and temporary staff. If you hear members of your team gossiping or talking negatively, address it directly.
For the most part, the steps you can take to assimilate temporary staff – like communication and respect – are key components of any healthy, engaged office. Incorporating them into your workplace, whether you’re integrating temporary staff or not, is a great way to boost employee happiness and productivity.