Construction and Human Resources

How do you view temporary help?

October 23, 2014
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How much respect do we give those who come into our companies to assist for short periods of time throughout the year? Is it okay to treat them like they are less important than us full-time veterans just because their employment has a known expiration date?

I think many companies struggle with how to treat their short-term hands. It's hard to invest emotionally in "temporary measures" after all, right?

In the construction industry, it is common to supplement existing staff with temporary workers during the busy summer season here in Michigan. We have to make hay (or in our case, pour concrete!) when the sun shines! This past summer we had a great backlog of work and a healthy supply of these employees. Many were just passing through as they took summer breaks from high school or college. Some of them had formal internships, while others were happy to simply make some cash.

As our temporary workers helped throughout this summer, we modified our approach. We treated them just like any other new, full-time employee would be treated. This included putting them through our complete on-boarding program, having them spend time getting to know our executive staff, teaching them about our company’s rich history and finally, giving them an "Employee Satisfaction Guarantee." 

We pledged to them that in return for their labor, they would receive more than just a check. They would build friendships, learn new skills, receive respect from their coworkers, and fortify their personal brand. In short, at the end of their work period, we wanted them to have no doubt in their minds where they wanted to work next summer or perhaps after they graduated.

During the week before these young, temporary hires went back to hitting the books, we had a chance to appreciate them in front of all E&V employees at a company-wide meeting. They stood up, we commented on how incredibly appreciative we were of their work efforts, and the entire crowd of people exploded into applause! 

Our young workers left with smiles, a sense of pride and a feeling of belonging.  Oh, and some cash, too.

Your temporary employees are not temporary measures. Their impact on your company lasts far after they leave, and their attitude during their short stay either positively or negatively affects your company long-term. So treat all your employees – even the temporary ones – with great care and respect. You may even find your next “star employee” in a batch of these bright, promising workers.

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