Hiring Temporary Employees: What You Need To Know

by Sandra Jenkins

Temporary employers are critical for your workplace. Whether your workplace has predictable seasonal over-capacities, are transitions, or is in the middle of a significant project, temporary workers can help bolster your ranks so that you can mount an adequate response.

Thus, it’s within your best interests to hire the best temporary employees you can, in the most efficient ways possible.

But how do you do it, and what are the things you should keep in mind when hiring temporary employees? Don’t worry – we answer all of that and more in this guide.

This article will explain everything you need to know about hiring temporary employees.

How Do You Define a Temporary Employee

Temporary employees, known in the more common term of “temps,” are employees that will only work for you for the short term. Temps have clearly defined roles and a short to mid-term stay with your company.

These types of employees have certain characteristics that distinguish them from regular employers. Here is a couple of them. 

  • Short and specific contracts. Temporary employees must have contracts that clearly define a limited set of responsibilities for a short period of time.
  • Does not have benefits. These workers don’t have the same benefits and perks as regular employees do.
  • Employment must be less than a year. If a temp is employed for more than one year, many states have a provision that the company must treat them as regular employees who enjoy regular benefits.
  • Covered by workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is a legally-mandated insurance service that protects employers from illnesses and injuries sustained during the line of work. Temps are included in workers’ comp; the expenses will be covered either by the employer or the staffing agency.
  • Temps have a rehiring limit. Temporary workers can only be rehired in the same position, for the same company, for a maximum of two years.

Hiring temporary employees is advantageous in many situations, but perhaps one of the most common benefits is that temp positions also serve as a trial to find out if an employee is a good fit for the company.

Companies can post “temp to permanent” positions that stipulate a trial period, with the automatic renewal as a permanent work if certain criteria are satisfied.

Why Should You Hire a Temporary Employee

For many businesses, it’s not advisable to create a primary workforce centered around temporary employees. However, temps work great under various situations and can sometimes even prove to be essential.

  • Time-limited needs. Time-limited needs are productivity gaps that you know will subside or disappear in the near future. Examples include seasonal over-capacities, employee leaves, or a one-time project.
  • Flexibility. In an uncertain job market, many employers increase the number of temporary workers they hire. This is because temporary workers can easily be let go or rehired depending on the market turns and how it affects your business.
  • Better assessment for employee-employer fit. Some businesses prefer to minimize or forego the interview process entirely, skipping instead to on-the-job assessments to get to know their top candidates and assess which one deserves the spot.

Qualities to Look Out For in an Ideal Temporary Employee

Great! Now we know exactly what temporary employees are, and why we might want them into our workforce. After reading all that, you might be eager to start hiring temporary employees of your own to solve your temporary staffing needs – but wait, how do you know who to hire?

Although the qualities of ideal temps and regular employees often overlap, hiring temporary employees to have several distinct requirements character-wise.

Before we get into them, keep in mind that these are ideal characteristics to have and that it’s very rare for one applicant to display all or even most of them. In light of this, the best temporary worker is really the one you have.

Nevertheless, be sure to snap up individuals who show these positive characteristics in the workplace. Here are a few.


You’re most likely going to be hiring temporary employees to fulfill urgent staffing needs – thus, you can’t afford for your hired temporary workers to cause more problems you need to fix.

Temporary workers must be dependable and work within the bounds of the rules you set. They must arrive on time and can do the task you set them efficiently. They must be able to follow complex instructions and complete the required tasks in the given amount of time.


Temporary workers need to show professionalism from the get-go. Temporary workers are only with you for a limited amount of time, so you can’t afford to take time to remind them to be more professional every day. Thus, choose temp workers who have no problem following your rules.


Hiring temporary employees to provide you with staffing during critical moments of your work is a common tactic by companies everywhere. Whether it’s a seasonal peak, a one-time project, etc. you need your temps to be flexible and adapt to changes quickly.

Temps might be needed on short notice and be called upon to work on graveyard or holiday shifts. You might even need to assign them to new tasks that you weren’t expecting, just to bolster specific parts of your workforce during critical moments.

They should be the types of people who rise to the occasion – just make sure that you give them suitable compensation for the effort they put in.


You might need additional hands urgently, thus putting temps to work the next day. Under these conditions, you most likely won’t have the time to train them properly.

Thus, they need to be self-sufficient and know how to figure out things independently. They need to be the kind of people who knows when to perform when to stand back so their inability doesn’t cause problems, and when to ask questions.


The best temps are willing to learn new things to adapt to your system, especially if they don’t have any experience working for your industry. They must be adaptable and be willing to learn how to do things your way and not the way they’re used to.

An ability to navigate the latest technology is also a plus; more and more work tends to be digitized, or involve devices and software of some kind. Thus, you might want to hire younger generations for these projects, as they are very digitally inclined and can quickly pick up new things.

Ability To Work Under Pressure

Temps are hired in crucial moments when your work is overflowing and pressure is increasing. Thus, your temporary workers must be able to rise to the occasion without breaking apart and causing problems for anyone.


As temporary employees are mostly hired in high-pressure situations, they must be able to maintain civility and good conduct. Basically, they must work well with your regular staff and not cause any friction, even during the high-pressure scenarios that you hire them for.

Good Work Ethic

Temporary employees must show good conduct at work. They are hired to bolster your workforce, and thus they need to have a net positive impact on your ability to operate on that set time.

Thus, your temporary employees should be good workers: hard-working, diligent, and honest. They must not waste time, can give their all on whatever task they’ve been given, and can be counted on not to lie or cheat their way out of work.


Temporary workers need to know how to communicate; whether it’s to ask clarifications on a task or ask questions about any area of the work that they don’t know. Good communication is important, especially in the high-stress situations that you might find yourself in and thus need temporary workers.

Thus, be on the lookout for applicants who perform well in their interviews. They need to be able to answer and ask questions clearly and can follow up on conversations.


Confident applicants do not hesitate to act or are not afraid to ask questions or clarifications. Temp workers need to be certain about what they’re doing, especially since you might not have the time to nurture them as you would regular employees.

Naturally confident people are fairly rare, which means that you need to be on the lookout for one even more. Keep an eye out for applicants who don’t hesitate to answer during the interviews and admit that they don’t know something without being embarrassed.

Where to Find Temporary Employees

Now that we know how to spot the ideal temporary employees for your needs, it’s time to attract them to your cause.

After all, if you’re thinking of hiring temporary employees, you need to be able to find them in the first place.

Knowing how to get to your workers allows you to easily market available positions to them, allowing you to attract candidates even while on short notice.

Your Careers Page

Many potential applicants are always looking for temporary employment opportunities.

They might want to test out your industry, or they might want to put their foot in the door and prove themselves worthy of permanent status. Whatever the case, your careers page is the first place they will look.

Your careers page is becoming an increasingly important tool for funneling potential applicants into your recruitment process.

Research by Engage2Excel shows that 82% of applicants they surveyed stated that having an active careers page will influence their decision to apply for that company.

Data by SHRM also shows that the best career sites convert at least 8.6% of the page visitors into applicants, and the last three years of data also show that this rate has grown to about 11%.

Thus, always announce your temporary employee vacancies on your careers page; it’s going to be one of the most important resources you will have in spreading the word.

Online Job Boards

Arguably the most common form of online recruiting, online job boards is still relevant and much needed today.

While job boards can’t be as personalized and dynamic as your own careers page, websites like Career Builder, Dice, Indeed, Monster, and many others, can reach millions of job searchers according to your specifications.

Online job boards are still among the first places people look at when job searching, so you must cover this particular area for recruitment.

To post on job boards effectively, make sure to:

  1. Market to your ideal candidates.
  2. Write a clear and comprehensive job description.
  3. Communicate the job titles and responsibilities properly.
  4. Create a simple job summary
  5. Include salary, compensation, benefits, and other perks
  6. Include simple qualification requirements, and
  7. Proofread your work for errors before posting.

Local Groups

In most cases, businesses in need of hiring temporary employees will be localized. The most common jobs that hire temporary workers include those with significant manpower needs such as retail, food service, and hospitality.

In cases such as these, it pays to invest time in recruiting from local groups in your area. Reach out to local bulletins, career organizations, and even local social media groups (such as Facebook), etc. to spread the word.

When doing so, please make sure to leave clear instructions on the requirements needed, the recruitment process, and how interested applicants might contact you. This avoids misunderstandings and saves you time.

If you’re not an in-person business, you can still leverage local groups especially if it gains you an advantage. For example, businesses requiring temporary freelance writers might reach out to local newspaper websites, writing groups, etc.

Staffing Agencies

When hiring temporary employees, staffing agencies are usually the most common go-to solution.

These organizations can mobilize their experienced and efficient sourcing network to round up large amounts of applicants in a short time. They also take care of most of the paperwork, such as employment taxes, social security payments, and even payroll.

Staffing agencies take the hassle of recruiting a large number of temporary applicants, who will be gone in a short time anyway.

However, keep in mind that most staffing agencies prioritize quantity over quality. This might not matter much for many businesses looking for unskilled labor, but if you want temporary workers that you hope can become regular employees, staffing agencies might not be the best choice.

This is because staffing agencies can’t market your brand and company values as well as you can.

Thus, staffing agencies are ideal if you want to quickly hire a large number of minimally-skilled workers. But if you’re thinking of hiring temporary employees to assess company fit, you’re better off doing it yourself.

Hiring Temporary Employees: Conclusion

Temporary workers serve a crucial purpose in your workforce. They augment your staff when needed, create an opportunity for you to “test out” employees, and keep your company working during uncertain times.

Thus, you must know what to do when hiring temporary employees. With the help of our full guide, you will soon be hiring the best temporary workers for your needs.

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