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Is It Time For HR To Change Its Attitude Towards Its Temporary Workforce?

Posted by Kate Smedley on 26 Jul 2017

As the skills shortage preoccupies HR, employers are increasingly relying on temporary agency workers to fill the gaps in their organisations.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) most recent JobsOutlook[1] found that 87% of businesses intend to maintain or increase their use of temporary staff in the next three months amid anticipation of an ongoing candidate shortage.  

Traditionally, agency workers have been seen as a short-term solution to resolve seasonal or short-term gaps in your workforce. Today that is changing as those temporary jobs are turning into long term assignments. Nearly a quarter (24%) of employers surveyed by REC suggested that they would appoint at least half of their temporary workers to a permanent role within the next year.

Is it time for HR to change its attitude towards its ‘temps’?

Understanding your obligations as an employer

While recruitment agencies are responsible for ‘employing’ agency workers, HR also has a number of legal obligations towards its temporary staff under the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR). A recent article on Recruitment Buzz provides a useful summary of the regulations. After a 12 week qualifying period agency workers are also entitled to additional benefits including the same pay as a permanent employee doing the same job. Failure to comply with these obligations can result in a tribunal where both the employer and recruitment agency can be deemed liable.

The Taylor Review also recommended that temporary staff working through an agency for the same employer for a minimum of 12 months have the right to request a direct contract of employment.

Changing your relationship with agency workers

Managing your agency workers in the same way as you would a permanent employee can lead to better engagement and productivity among your temporary staff as well as improved cohesion within your teams. A new report Tune in to temps emphasises the benefits of this approach. Produced by The Involvement and Participation Association (IPA) in association with REC, the report recommends that all agency workers are treated in the same way as permanent hires.

The following strategies can help to achieve this:-

Expand the definition of employees : Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends Report urges employers to expand their definition of employees from the people ‘on the balance sheet’ to include what it refers to as ‘freelancers, gig economy workers and crowds’. This also enables employers to identify the temporary workers in their organisation and bring everyone into an inclusive talent management strategy. 

Onboard all of your workforce : A temporary worker can prove to be a valuable long-term addition to your team and should be processed through your recruitment software in the same way as permanent hires. This includes effective onboarding and carrying out your own background checks. 42% of employers skip candidate screening but even a short-term temporary hire can cause disruption to your business and your customers if not properly vetted. Depending on the type of job, periodic checks should also be carried out. A PageGroup survey carried out in 2016 also found that 58% of companies now extend onboarding to include both temporary and gig economy workers to improve engagement, participation and retention. Advorto’s recruitment software automatically tags agency candidates as they are added to your system enabling HR to monitor onboarding.   

Pay attention to feedback : The IPA/REC report suggests providing feedback to all of your temporary workers. Jon Younger of the Agile Talent Collaborative suggests six strategies to improve performance management of gig economy professionals. These principles can be extended to agency workers, especially those on long-term assignments or covering key positions:-

  • Provide context.
  • Look beyond cost, quality and schedule.
  • Encourage communication.
  • Ensure two way feedback.
  • Focus on providing all necessary training and feedback.
  • Recognise excellence among all of your employees.

The IPA report also encourages involving temporary workers in all staff activities and social events.

Focus on workforce planning : In an article published on the CIPD website, Barry Flack and John Dunning highlight the need for HR to take responsibility for all contingent workers within an organisation. A lack of visibility around freelance (and agency) workers can lead to ‘unnecessary hiring’ and ‘phantom skills shortages’, exacerbated by ‘unchecked and mismanaged recruitment processes’.  This is only possible with effective workforce planning and streamlined hiring procedures to manage your candidate sources. Invest in recruitment software that offers instant visibility relating to your entire workforce and tracks the progress and effective management of agency sourced hires.

Support your entire talent recruitment system effectively with Advorto’s world class HR technology that offers a fully featured agency management system. Start your 30 day free trial today.

You might also like to read:-

How Your Disengaged Workforce Affects Your Hiring Success

The Gig Economy : The Good, The Bad & HR

Image : 123rf.com/profile_olechowski

[1] Sources : https://www.rec.uk.com/news-and-policy/research/jobsoutlook

Topics: industry-article

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