How to hire a temporary employee for your small business in 7 simple steps
Deciding to hire help for your business can be stressful. You might feel uncertain about what the right option is and how to go about it. One of the most common challenges that small business owners face is hiring temporary workers.
Hiring a temporary worker is a time-saving strategy that can benefit many businesses. Even if you can’t afford to hire a permanent employee, your small businesses can get relief if you can’t meet current work demands.
When it comes time to hire temporary employees, try to think about what your business needs and find the best candidate that way. Here are the 7 most important steps you need to take when hiring a temporary employee for your small business.
1) Know when it’s time to hire a temporary worker
No one wants burnt-out staff. If your business is bringing in more work than you can meet, you might consider hiring a temporary worker to help you get through the demand. Many companies hire temporary staff to help cover:
- Seasonal work
- Long vacations
- Maternity leave
- Disability leave
- Employees taking other jobs
Signs it’s time to hire help
How do you know if it's time to hire a temporary worker? First, do a small business health checkup. Then, check out these signs to see if it's time to take the plunge:
- Your business is having a temporary or seasonal boost in business.
- Your team is struggling to keep up with projects and client work.
- You need short-term help as part of a long-term issue.
- You want to “test drive” the idea of hiring an employee long-term.
Explore the type of worker you need
If you’re ready to hire help, you have a few options: Part-time, temporary, or seasonal employees. The decision to hire a part-time, temporary, or seasonal worker is solely dependent on the business:
- Part-time workers are generally employed for less than 35 hours per week and can give you a pool of people who can work when needed.
- Seasonal workers are generally hired in the summer and winter months (during your industry’s peak season).
- Temporary employees can help fill a gap in employment needs for an understaffed business or a temporary vacancy because of a worker on leave.
What is a temp-to-hire employee?
Temp-to-hire employees are hired for a short period—usually a few weeks or months. You might consider them a type of freelancer or independent contractor since they are paid by the hour or by the project.
For example, let’s say you’re a business owner and you’re looking to hire your first employee in Georgia. If you’re looking for a full-time employee but can’t commit to the cost of hiring one, a temp-to-hire can be a good choice.
They’ve increasingly become an essential part of the workforce. Small business owners can use them to fulfill short-term needs for skills that are not available on their current team and create a more diverse employee pool.
2) Consider the good and bad of hiring a temporary employee
Temporary workers are an excellent solution for many small businesses. It’s a popular choice, too—about 16 million workers are temporary or contracted, according to the Statista Research Department.
But it isn’t right for everyone, and you must consider the pros and cons before hiring a temporary employee.
Benefits of hiring a temp
Temporary employees are a great way to meet your staffing needs without the commitment of hiring full-time employees. Other benefits include:
- Immediate availability if you need help right away
- “Trial period” before committing to a full-time employee
- Specialized skill sets
- High productivity
- Flexibility to increase and decrease according to your workload
- Lower cost and less complicated benefits
Drawbacks of hiring a temporary employee
Temporary employees can help your small business maintain staffing needs without being a drain on finances. But what are the downsides of hiring temporary employees?
- Increased training requirements as you hire new people
- Safety issues from not being familiar with your work environment
- Lack of teamwork or loyalty
- Legal issues if you treat your temp as a full-time employee
3) Attract the best temporary employees
So, you decided to hire a short-term employee. That’s great! But first, you must find job candidates. The good news is that the numbers are on your side—the number of people taking temporary jobs has gone up by 66% since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, according to a PeopleReady survey.
Create a clear and compelling job post
When creating a job post for a temporary position, attract the best candidates by having a very clear job description. It should be easy to understand while not sounding too generic and include some of your company's values and culture to attract the right candidates. You should also add:
- Job title
- Description of tasks
- Explanation of requirements
- Length of temporary employment
- Keywords or phrases so your ad can get found
You might use a sample to help write it, like the Society for Human Resources Management’s job description template.
Finding temporary workers
Job ads are usually posted on company websites or career sites, but you can also hand out printed copies of job postings or hang them on local community boards.
The internet is another option. Depending on the type of help you’re looking for, consider using a site that caters to temporary contract workers like:
Through these sites, you can browse the profiles of various freelancers with different skill sets. You can filter them by price or by their ratings and hopefully find the right temporary employee for your company.
You can also ask your current employees for recommendations—they can be an excellent source for referrals. Exploring local colleges and universities and reaching out to former temporary employees to see if they’re interested can turn up great candidates, too.
But you don’t have to do it alone. For example, if you’re hiring your first employee in Texas and looking for a temporary worker, you might consider a staffing company or temp agency. Staffing agencies can act as recruiters because they specialize in finding skilled temp workers for short periods.
4) Narrow your list of temporary worker candidates
Hopefully, your job post brought in several promising candidates. Now the hard part—narrowing them down.
If you hire a temporary staffing agency, they’ll take care of screening your applicants to find the right temp employee. If you’re doing it on your own, a few tips can help:
- Study the applicant’s past work history and see how they have performed in previous jobs.
- Check if the applicant meets your company’s specific requirements in terms of education and experience.
- Conduct a phone interview with the applicant and observe their attitude towards your company, themselves, and their skills.
- Set up a face-to-face interview where you can observe them closely and find out more about them personally.
Interview top candidates
Be careful about how many in-person interviews you set up. You probably don’t want to interview more than 5 applicants for a seasonal job or temporary work, but sticking to 3 or 4 is better.
Stick to open-ended questions during the interview. For example, a small business owner hiring their first employee in California might ask:
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What are some of your skills?
- What are some of the tasks you would be able to perform in this job?
- How would you go about measuring your output for this job?
- Is there anything that would prevent you from doing this job consistently?
5) Make an offer
Once you find an excellent candidate, make an offer right away. If you wait, you risk them taking another temporary role, and you may have to start the process over. Ideally, you’ll have a job offer letter drafted and ready to go.
Job offer letters are a company's formal way of inviting someone to join their team. They may include information about compensation, responsibilities, and company culture to entice the candidate to accept the offer.
Indeed has a job offer letter template you can use as a guide, but here are six points that you should include in your job offer letter:
- The position for which the candidate is being considered
- Salary, location, and how long the candidate can expect to work per week
- Benefits (if available)
- Start date and end date (if applicable)
- A deadline to accept the job offer
- Who to contact with any questions or concerns about the offer
6) Follow legal requirements
The U.S. Department of Labor and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) offers several guidelines about temporary staff for part-time or seasonal employment:
- There’s no limit on the number of hours per day (or per week) an employee can work, so long as they’re aged 16 or older.
- Depending on the role, you may need to pay at least federal minimum wage and overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
- You can change an employee’s hours without giving prior notice or getting consent from the employee—although this can depend on the terms of the contract agreement.
- You don’t need to provide payment for vacation, sickness, or holidays.
- You’re not required to provide breaks or meal periods, although your state may have different guidelines you must follow.
However, the employment laws depend on the type of employee you hire. For example, a part-time temporary worker has different guidelines than a temporary contracted employee:
- An employment contract (for a contractor or freelancer)
- A non-disclosure agreement (for both types of workers)
- A Form W-9 (for temporary contractors or freelancers)
- Forms W-4 and I-9 (for part-time temp workers)
You may want to create a standard contractor agreement if you frequently hire temp workers for projects or short-term positions. It should outline compensation, project scope, business policies, and job requirements.
Both parties should sign the written agreement and provide information about what will happen if there is an emergency or what to do if one party wants to terminate the agreement before it expires.
7) How to retain your best temp workers
Finding a temporary employee is a lot of work! Now that you’ve attracted the best candidates for your small business, you want to make sure to keep them engaged and happy with their work. Onboarding is the last step in the hiring process—the key to success is to make it personalized, memorable, and informative.
An effective onboarding process starts with you (or the hiring manager) meeting the new hire in a public space like the lobby or coffee shop on their first day of work. This provides an opportunity for socialization and makes it easier for them to find their way around.
The first day of work for a new employee is crucial—it sets the tone for their experience and how regular employees will treat them. An orientation packet that includes contact information for all departments and resources such as phone numbers and office locations can help employees feel welcome. You can also:
- Give them a tour of the building
- Collect all required forms
- Run through their schedule for the week
- Arrange a team lunch (if applicable)
- Make sure they have a fully functioning computer and network access
- Review tasks to be performed and job expectations over the employment term
- Issue their first assignment
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t overwhelm the employee with too much work right away. You might be tempted to load them up with a pile of work and tell them to get started—but that might be too much for someone new to the company.
You also want to make sure your bases are covered when it comes to liability. At Huckleberry, we specialize in protecting your business from unforeseen events. For peace of mind about your company’s future, get a quote for small business insurance today (it’s paperwork-free because everything you need is online).