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Retaining temporary workers: how to build an engaged talent pool

Although there are obvious differences in the way you engage temporary and permanent workers, they often play an equally important part in an organisation’s long-term talent strategy. In many businesses, temporary workers play a crucial role in filling skills gaps and are rehired and redeployed time and again for future assignments. Keeping this pool of talented contingent workers engaged and loyal to your brand, then, is crucial.

But retaining temporary workers isn’t as simple as replicating the engagement strategies you use for permanent staff.

So, what can organisations do to fully engage and ‘retain’ this crucial segment of the workforce?

Consider the contingent worker experience from day one

Hiring temporary workers requires robust recruitment processes, from thorough screening and vetting to in-depth skills assessments, all of which reduce the risk of making an expensive hiring mistake. However, the process is a two-way street and the individuals will be looking to form a connection with your brand from the start.

Be open and transparent about the nature of the assignment while communicating and behaving consistently. Along with making a good first impression, these are key factors in creating positive psychological effects on temporary workers. Organisational engagement and commitment begin long before the person has started work, whether they are a full-time member of staff or supporting on a project basis.

It is crucial to onboard new temporary workers thoroughly and make them feel part of the team and organisation. Introduce them to everyone and set up meetings with relevant people across the organisation. Take them on a tour of the office or site so they know where to find things such as stationery, breakout areas, and tea and coffee. If you’re managing temporary workers remotely, welcome them into the virtual team as you would a full-time employee. Remember, the first days and weeks will set the tone and will be a key factor in an individual’s view of your employer brand.

Break down barriers to retain temporary staff

Think about assigning a ‘buddy’ to your temporary workers, someone who knows their way around and can help them become familiar with the surroundings. Managers should lead by example and involve temps in their team meetings, and ensure they are accepted and welcomed by other team members. When it comes to contribution, there should be no distinction made on contractual grounds – everyone is part of the team and everyone’s time is valuable. Temps add to the diverse mix of skills and opinions, are able to provide a fresh perspective, and can be just as motivated as permanent employees.

A happy employee who feels like an integral part of the team, and who is supported by their manager and colleagues, is far more likely to give you maximum effort rather than just coast along with little dedication to the cause. This is where the environment and company culture are so important to the integration process. Small gestures count. Do you keep a list of team member birthdays so you can send them cards and gifts? Add your temporary workers’ birthdays to the list so they feel included and cared about. If you’re organising a team get-together, don’t forget your temps. Establishing these personal relationships is critical in fostering connectedness, loyalty, productivity and wellbeing.

Create a sense of belonging for temporary workers

Any hire that doesn’t work out – whether temp or permanent – can add substantial cost to your recruitment budget. Organisations need to think long term, even with temporary staff, as the contingent workforce is becoming an increasingly important pool of specialist skills that can be engaged and rehired at short notice. You might need to use that person again and extend their contract or even hire them in a full-time capacity. If you’ve treated them well and shown your support and appreciation, they’ll jump at the chance to continue working for you and bring their expertise and talent back into your company.

When temporary workers say they would likely stay on with their temporary employers, they often say that a sense of friendliness and inclusion is the reason why. It’s that positive attitude to temps, acknowledging that their contribution is just as important as that of permanent employees, that will encourage people to come back to your business again. Provide your temp staff with an environment in which they can feel a valued member of the team and you’ll get loyalty and hard work in return.

Contact us to find out how Guidant Global’s contingent workforce solutions experts can help your organisation boost its retention of temporary talent.


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