With a decline in the unemployment rate to 5.5 percent, according to the Labor Department, the U.S. is nearing full employment. A robust jobs report and a strong trend in quarter-over-quarter growth in GDP and an increase in consumer retail spending indicate signs of sustained growth. As the economy gains momentum, competition for top talent will remain fierce. Many companies will continue to rely on an employer of record or an HR outsourcing agency to hire or source temporary workers to fill skill gaps, augment permanent staff or eventually transition to full-time employees. Here are some guidelines to help organizations get the best performance from their supplemental workers.

Clearly define the position
Determine the skills necessary for the job. Consider both soft and hard skills. Does the position require sharp written and oral communication abilities in addition to core job functions? Will the person in this role work with a team or independently? Consult with employees who are successful in the same or similar position and get their insight into the skills and knowledge a temporary worker needs to be successful in the role. Provide as much detail as possible to your staffing agency or independent recruiter so that they can help find the most promising candidate for the position.

Prepare permanent staff
Permanent employees can feel threatened by the introduction of temporary or contract workers, which can lead to a decrease in morale and productivity. To encourage a positive response, tell staff members about temporary employees and explain how, why and where they will be used, and how the workers will help or affect their responsibilities.

Provide clear expectations and deadlines
Companies often underutilize temporary workers, especially those filling short-term staffing gaps, by expecting less from them than from permanent employees. Set clear expectations and establish deadlines for tasks and projects. This helps workers and their supervisors gauge performance and make necessary adjustments. This also provides temporary employees with tangible goals and a sense of accomplishment when targets are met.

Train, evaluate and manage
Hiring managers can ask their employer of record or staffing agency what types of skills training they can provide. However, even the most highly skilled and experienced workers will be unfamiliar with a company’s specific processes, approaches and procedures. Assign a supervisor or staff member to help orient and train temporary employees and to check in on them regularly the first few days to answer questions, evaluate their progress and productivity, and make any necessary corrections.

Make temporary workers part of the team
Temporary and contract workers often feel alienated from permanent employees or like second-class citizens, which can crush morale and cause their productivity and effectiveness to plummet. Treat them as regular employees and make them feel like a valuable part of the team. Introduce them to coworkers and supervisors, pair them up with a “buddy,” or create teams of permanent and temporary workers for events or competitions. This builds camaraderie among temporary and full-time staff, which increases morale and fosters a positive, productive work environment.

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