30s young hipster man style working at office with ambient lightDoes this sound like you? You need help handling all the duties of your business, but you don’t want to hire additional permanent employees. Whether you’re looking ahead to holiday shopping season or suddenly need summer staff, temporary workers might be able to fill the bill.

Temporary workers can help a small business in many situations:

  • You are faced with sudden, unexpected demand for your product or service, but aren’t sure how long it will last.
  • You need workers to help with seasonal tasks, such as employees to help your accounting firm get through tax season or retail employees to handle the holiday shopping rush.
  • One of your permanent employees is on an extended leave, such as maternity or medical leave, and you need someone to handle their position.

The rise of the “freelance economy” has made temporary work more appealing for many people. Last year, the number of temporary workers in the U.S. hit an all-time high of 2.9 million, according to the Commerce Department. But temporary workers are also appealing to small business owners for several reasons:

  • Hourly temporary workers typically are paid less than hourly permanent workers in the same roles, the Commerce Department reports.
  • You don’t pay the workers directly, which saves you time and headaches dealing with payroll, withholding, insurance and benefits. Instead, the temporary agency handles payments to the workers. (However, keep in mind that the total, or “bill rate,” you’ll pay to the agency includes a fee for this service and any benefits the workers receive.)
  • If business slows down, you can let temporary workers go immediately, without having to provide any type of severance and without the emotional strain of laying off a permanent employee.
  • If a temporary employee doesn’t work out as expected, you can generally just request a replacement. No need for the time-consuming and costly process of advertising a job, conducting interviews and hiring a new employee.
  • If the temp does work out spectacularly, and your short-term need becomes ongoing, you can offer the temp a permanent job.

Most temporary workers are in industrial (37 percent) or office/administrative/clerical roles (28 percent), according to the American Staffing Association. But 13 percent work in professional/managerial roles; 13 percent work in engineering, IT or science fields; and 9 percent work in healthcare jobs. This growing specialization in the temp industry means it’s easier to find the exact type of temp you need.

Nor are temps just entry-level workers, the Wall Street Journal reports. Many skilled employees prefer temporary work for its flexibility and as a way to try out potential employers in hopes of getting a permanent job offer. (More than one-third of temps have received a permanent job offer from an employer according to the American Staffing Association.)

If you think temporary employees might be right for you, here are some steps to ensure a successful temporary hire:

  • Be clear with the temporary agency about your needs and expectations. The more specific you can be, the better fit they will be able to find for you.
  • Be sure you understand all the terms of the temporary agreement, including the fees the agency receives, whether you can make a job offer to a temporary employee and whether there are additional fees for doing so.
  • If you know going in that you want to hire temporaries with the potential to become permanent employees, ask about “temp-to-perm” arrangements. Not all temporary workers want permanent jobs, and you don’t want to find the perfect worker only to discover that he or she prefers being a temp.
  • Once temps come on board, treat them as you would any new employee — provide a work space, training and appropriate tools to do the job, and make sure they’re made to feel at home.

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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+  and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

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