Temporary workers offer convenience
and flexibility -- for a price
you need to beef up an assembly line for a short-term project, produce
a customer database or just cover for a vacationing receptionist,
temporary staffing allows you to expand and contract your work force
with the ebb and flow of your business.
With temporary staffing, you only
pay for workers when you need them and eliminate the expense of
recruiting and training. But such just-in-time staffing doesn't
always come cheaply.
"Typically, depending on supply and demand,
the service company markup over pay rate will run from 50 to 80
percent for a non-volume buyer," says Marc Goldman, vice president
of sales and marketing for AppleOne
Employment Services. The markup is not pure profit for the temp
agency -- it helps cover costs of recruiting, testing, training
Other factors that will influence your costs
include location, job category, the size of your request and which
company you call.
Companies that hire more than 50 temporaries
at once can use exclusivity as a negotiating tool, according to
Greg King, industrial services manager for Manpower's Janesville,
|How to get the most from
your temporary employee
Write a detailed description
of the key functions the temp will perform. Include a
general overview of your operation and any necessary passwords
and file locations.
Appoint a full-time
employee as your temp's mentor to show your temp around,
make introductions and answer questions. Temporary workers
who feel that they are part of the office tend to be more
Plan in advance where
the temporary employee will be working. You are paying
for every minute wasted finding and setting up a station
for your temp.
Check with your temporary
employee every 15 minutes during the first hour and a
half of service. Investing a few extra minutes early in
the day will guard against mistakes resulting from misunderstanding.
Businesses requiring 100 or more employees should
find out what a staffing service will do if it cannot fill the order
from its own temporary pool. Some staffing services partner with
competitors to fulfill large orders. "It's always best to call a
couple of services in a case like this," says Holly Lewis, president
of the Florida Staffing Service Association. "That way, if one firm
falls short on your order, you will have another one to help pick
up the slack."
agencies for different jobs
Staffing services come in all shapes and sizes. Some specialize
in office administration, others in technology. Still others cater
to the needs of a particular professional area. Some companies are
generalists offering assistance in many areas.
Consider the position you are trying to fill
as you talk to representatives from different companies. Remember,
the lowest hourly wage does not always result in the lowest bill.
While a firm specializing in a particular profession may charge
a slightly higher hourly fee for their employees, the skills and
experience their people bring to your workplace may allow them to
actually save you money by getting the job done faster.
Begin your search for a temporary service provider
before you actually need one. This gives you time to research your
decision and prevents any last-minute glitch from disrupting your
business. Some companies require credit checks on new accounts,
a process that may take a day or two.
Start by clearly defining your staffing needs,
including training, skill levels and just how long you will need
the temporary service. Talk to representatives from several companies
before narrowing your choices down to one or two.
- How long has the firm been in business at
- How long have the agency manager and permanent
support staff been with the firm?
- How does the company recruit temporary employees?
- What kinds of testing, preliminary interviewing
and background checks does the company conduct?
- How many workers specializing in your field
does the company have on file?
- What kind of benefits does the agency offer
- What kind of training is available to employees?
- Will the staffing service compensate your
company if a temporary employee is unsatisfactory or takes longer
than expected to train?
- Will an account executive be checking on
the temporary worker's performance?
- What is the billing rate?
You can find staffing agencies in the Yellow
Pages and through the National
Association of Temporary Staffing Services and the National
Association of Personnel Services. These national organizations
include published codes of ethics and searchable membership databases
on their Web sites.
they really temporary?
From an employer's point of view, a big advantage of using temporary
workers is that you don't have to pay them benefits, withhold income
taxes, withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, or pay
unemployment tax on wages.
But be cautious. The dividing line between temporary
workers and employees is less clear than it used to be. The IRS
has established a 20-point checklist that employers must review
to determine who is an employee. It's an important distinction --
court cases have awarded some workers big settlements because they
were wrongly excluded from benefits.
In general, the more control you take over temporary
workers, the less you are able to exclude them from benefits. The
IRS has published a lengthy
set of rules to help employers decide whether a worker is an
employee or a contract worker.
-- Updated: April 24, 2002