Should I hire temporary staff?

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Labour shortages, COVID quarantines, long-delayed holidays and the winter flu season are all creating staffing problems for businesses. 

As we emerge from the pandemic, many companies are also back in growth mode with new projects and need extra people to ensure work is completed.

To fill the gaps, business owners are urgently looking for staff but recruiting is an intensive and slow process. If there’s a sudden resignation or several employees call in sick, people are needed immediately.

Temporary workers are an ideal solution, but what’s the best way to go about finding them, and when should you choose temp staff over permanent hires?

Managing fluctuating demand

Many businesses experience seasonal volatility. Retail businesses during the festive season, tourism companies during the holiday season and so on. Maintaining a roster of reliable casual staff makes it much easier to quickly expand your workforce, without being locked into a higher headcount during quieter periods. 

For example, the Royal Melbourne Show has a core staff of around 60 but expands to 350 for the duration of the show. Technology-based rostering systems allow for greater flexibility and efficiency, making it easier for businesses to scale up and down when needed.

One-off projects and campaigns

If you have a special project and only need people for a set time period, hiring temporary staff is not only convenient but can get you access to highly specialised skills. With certain skills in critically short supply globally, filling a permanent role is a long and complex process. It may take months, by which time you need the project up and running or the campaign completed. With casual contractors you can get the capability you need quickly – and when they come pre-screened and ready to work, they can hit the ground running.     

More cost-effective hiring

Visibility on costs is the key to managing cash flow. With casual staff, you have to pay casual loading, but you don’t have to pay for annual or sick leave. This can make it much more affordable to bring in workers when you need them. If your business is expanding generally and you need people longer-term, then it might make sense to recruit permanent staff. But if you need flexibility and a short-term increase in headcount, then temporary and casual contractors are a great way to bring in essential skills and increase capacity. 

Getting staff quickly

If staff call in sick, you may not even be able to open your business. The advantage with temps is that they can be hired at very short notice – sometimes within hours. Staffing agencies already have a pool of pre-screened people that you can access, such as already having Working With Children checks. A delivery company we worked with cut their speed-to-hire from ten days to 24 hours. Another transport company made an urgent request for help at 8 am and had a temp in the office by 11 am.

Less burden on HR

By hiring casual workers through a reputable agency, all the HR requirements are taken care of. This means that HR staff aren’t overwhelmed with having to sort out legal and tax paperwork, saving hours of admin. One company that supplies field-based retail staff has saved $100,000/year by not needing an internal HR management team at all.

The diverse, wider talent pool

People seeking casual work often have different backgrounds and skills than candidates for permanent roles. They may have worked for a wide range of different companies and have more exposure to different customers. This can actually be great for your permanent people and culture, with fresh ideas and energy brought in. Further, labour-hire firms will often train their casuals too, ensuring businesses have access to not only a diverse but highly trained and pre-vetted workforce. 

Casual and temporary staff can give a business much more agility in uncertain times. It means organisations can focus on what matters most to them, such as innovation and growth, without having to take the focus off core business and onto recruitment. There’s also the option of recruiting talented temps as permanent staff as your business grows: much more quickly, easily and with more reliable outcomes than hiring from scratch.

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