Wellbeing for temporary workers

The topic of wellbeing in the workplace has been prevalent for several years now as more and more employers latch on to the fact that job satisfaction and wellbeing in the workplace are integrally linked to productivity and performance.  

Yet one area that remains somewhat neglected is the wellbeing of temporary workers.    

Ultimately the same logic applies – a business invests in temporary workers to support their team and so should equally aim to achieve positive productivity. Yet, there isn’t the same discussion around promoting temporary workers’ wellbeing, even though the benefits for employers can be just as important.    

With this in mind, thisresource aims to pull together our key advice to employers when it comes to working with temps.  

 

Why temp wellbeing should be on your agenda

According to researchers at the University of Warwick, being happy raised people’s productivity by between 7per cent and 12 per cent. But that’s nothing new to the modern workforce – we are all quite familiar with the concept of happy workforces getting more done but there are important nuances to consider.   

In an interview for the BBC, economist Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, succinctly explained that satisfaction in a job is about being engaged in the work you are doing but also “being positively absorbed by the work you’re doing, identifying with and promoting the mission of the company you’re working for.”  

In fact, there are realms of scientific research exploring the fact that satisfaction leads to stronger corporate performance through recruitment, retention and motivation, as this US study suggests 

Yet researchers from the University of the West of England found that, broadly, temps reported lower wellbeing than their permanent counterparts. But the UK is expected to have 1 million agency workers by 2020  so businesses would be wise to start thinking about temp wellbeing in the workplace too.  

Resolution Foundation, who carried out this research, refer to temporary, or agency workers as ‘the forgotten face’ in the debate about insecure work. Yet we know that without this type of work, many businesses would struggle. It isn’t just about protecting workers and ensuring that their needs beyond just the basics are covered, maintaining wellbeing for all workers has a positive impact for employers too.  

What benefits can a happier temp workforce offer you?

As previously suggested, a happier workforce is linked to more productivity but how does that specifically relate to the benefits you can reap in using temporary workers? 

In many instances, temporary workers are brought in to support a business with a flux in workloads – perhaps that’s due to sickness, holiday or seasonal changes. Regardless of the reason, businesses in these situations will want a temporary worker to get up to speed and start adding value quickly. Making their wellbeing a priority will ensure they are equipped to start adding that much needed value as soon as possible.   

We see it time and time again – businesses find a fantastic fit with a temporary worker and decide to make their position permanent. By prioritising their wellbeing you will be ensuring your business makes the right first impression with potentially valuable members of your workforce.   

It’s incredibly important for your employer brand too. You don’t know who a temporary worker may be speaking to so by leaving a good impression – by taking their wellbeing seriously – you will only encourage positive word of mouth.  

Temporary workers often have a suite of skills as a result of working in many different roles demanding different things from them. In making sure they are happy and comfortable in their workplace you will be far more likely to recognise where their skills may lie – and how else they may be able to support your business. Exactly that happened when the RAF Families Federation welcomed temp Chloe, read their story here. 

How can you achieve a happier, more productive temp workforce?

When people feel unsafe at work, their more primitive brain structures are activated, and they can’t access their frontal lobes to innovate.”  David Hassell  

Treating employees with respect and care is not just the right thing to do, it’s also good businessHere is a small snippet of motivations for any employer seeking to have a good wellbeing agenda for ALL staff: 

  • increased staff satisfaction 
  • increased staff morale 
  • improved staff retention 
  • increased productivity 
  • reduction of absenteeism 
  • reduction of presenteeism 
  • promotion of open communication to foster better relationships between management and staff 

There is a feeling amongst employers that investing in wellbeing in the office will need to be costly to be effective. But, according to the Warwick University study mentioned earlier, it has the opposite effect. In fact any costly input may cloud the benefits.  

This brings us into the realm of “nudge economics”: in which the aim is to influence behaviour through policies which cost almost nothing. 

Encouraging wellbeing in the office can be a simple as giving positive feedback, which might not seem like a thing to do with temp staff, but in fact will make them feel equally valued and incentivised to work to the best of their capabilities 

Ensuring that your temp worker is comfortable within their work environment is also important, have you asked them about what helps them perform better in the workplace? You might be surprised at how it easy it is to accommodate productivity. For example, you wouldn’t sit someone that gets easily cold under the air con unit.   


How can your recruitment agency support wellbeing initiatives for temporary workers?

Of course, the responsibility for maintaining temporary workers’ workplace wellbeing is not just yours – it is the responsibility of the temping agency you work with, too.   

We recommend working just as closely with a candidate, as with a company, to find the right fit in the first place. Placing a temporary worker should require the same effort as placing a permanent member of staff. Culture, ethos: these are vital to a company’s success. For example, placing a person who requires lots of support, into a role that needs someone to hit the ground running, would be a fundamental error on the agency’s part. 

Read this case study to find out more about how we support businesses as a temping agency. Nicola Eastwood – for whom we’ve helped place 15 candidates said: “Since working with ACR the quality of placements has improved. Staff remain in post for longer; a great benefit for them and us.” 

Good agencies should have a commitment to providing as much support as possible before, during and after a placement. We have a wealth of information on our website, and more detailed information on our confidential portal that we use to communicate with our temporary workers and our clients. It is a significant part of an agencies job to provide information to employees, that inform and protect them of their rights, ensuring they are entitled to breaks and holiday and that pay is on time, with the correct tax code.  

An agency will provide the necessary pre-employment skills tests and interviews that obtain information about the worker, which will help support with wellbeing issues. The aim of this resource is to provide employers with an understanding that although, the agency will be responsible for this from the outset, delivering fairness within the workplace towards your temp worker will have lasting benefits for you too.  

That doesn’t mean that issues are to be ignored, if there are any problems with an employee, from lateness to poor performance, we would expect to be informed so that we could step in to avoid lines being blurred. After all, it is important to distinguish the difference between an agency worker and regular staff, and an agency must be involved in any disciplinary procedures.  

Finding a good fit from the outset, is more likely to lead to temps becoming permanent members of staff. We love it when this happens and offer support throughout this transition, to make it as seamless and stress-free as possible.  

Temporary worker induction checklist:

As an employer, you will have your own new starter procedure in place, full of detailed plans such as setting goals and ensuring they understand the ethics and codes of conduct are understood.  

However, you will probably leave most of this out when training temp workers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a tweaked version for them. Many employers have made the mistake of not having an induction in place for temporary workers 

Here are a few pointers that, from experience, we have seen either go wrong, or be reported back to us as being extremely right: 

  • Set up all IT and work platforms before your temp startsThis might sound extremely obvious, but you would be surprised by how many temps say that it took days for them to properly get started because their permissions access to applications wasn’t set up, or they had to wait a few hours before they could access their desk whilst their PC was being set up. 

This is often seen as a flippant attitude towards the notion of a worker being there ‘temporarily’, and one you should avoid at all costs 

  • Have your new starter arrive an hour later than the usual start timeThis will give you time to get yourself ready and avoid any awkward projections of ‘oh no, you’ve started and we’re not ready for you’. It also eases a person into the role and the day itself, which for all new employees, is the most mentally exhausting day of their work life. There’s so much for a new starter to learn and remember – whether they are a temp worker or permanent employee 
  • Take time to talk to your new hire about the office. Trust us, this isn’t silly thing to do: ensure your new starter understands all your offices nuances will help them settle quicker. Make sure that they know that they are entitled to any of the perks that you might have for regular staff, such as fruit or flexi start/finish times.  
  • Flexible working – speaking of flexi start/finish times, if your company already promotes this, think about extending it to your temp worker. After all they will have a work/life balance to juggle too, and any understanding in this regard will leave a good impression. 
  • Appoint a ‘buddy’ – your new starter might only be in your office for a short period, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to eat lunch alone, or feel uncomfortable for the whole duration – not asking questions. With this in mind, if you appoint a buddy for your new temp starters, it might also make sense if this person has a good knowledge of what the role is, and can support the tempIf your company projects social benefits, such as pizza Fridays or even pub Fridays, invite the temp too! 
  • Inform ALL of your staff that a new temp is starting and what role they will be doing. This is extremely vital so that your new starter doesn’t feel invisible whilst at your company. A simple email the day before asking staff to be as friendly as they always are and introduce themselves, will have the biggest impact on the wellbeing of your new starter. A simple, cost-effective, but hugely beneficial act.  

 

Remember, helping a temp employee to fit into the company isn’t just about making sure they feel comfortable and happy, it is also about preserving your brand too. In an age of social media it isn’t just people looking for work, that need to check their online presence. Your company should also check its reviews, monitor any improvements that can be made; and never forget that temps’ opinions matter too; they are just as entitled to review your company as any permanent employee.  

According to research in 2017, carried out by Glassdoorparticipants who saw a positive review formed a better opinion of the company, were more eager to apply and to recommend it, and said they would ask for smaller salary increases than participants who saw a negative or neutral review. 

wellbeing in the workplace study by Gallup said, on average, business units in the top quartile of employer engagement surveys, performed 1 to 4percentage points higher in profitability, for many organisations in the competitive market this is the difference between failure and success.   

Happiness helps to shape job market outcomes, productivity and firm performance. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve 

 

Further temp wellbeing resources

If you are interested in learning more about how temporary workers can support your business, look at our other resources:  

 

Equally, if you are interested in working with us for temporary staff, please do get in touch with us via 01733 235 298 or email info@annecorder.co.uk