Engaging Contractors in a Candidate Tight Market

With Australia continuing to recover from COVID-19, our unemployment rate sits at the lowest it has been since 2008. We are witnessing firsthand the growing challenge of recruiting staff with fewer job seekers in the market to meet demand. This, in turn, has led to an increase in businesses engaging more contractors/temps to fill gaps in order to meet their company objectives. Whether your requirements are short or long-term, if you are looking to engage temporary contractors, here are some of my tips to ensure that you are optimising the experience for all parties involved.

Clarity is the key: If you are looking to engage staff via an agency or directly yourself, you need to be clear on what requirements you are engaging them to do. The more detail you can provide to both your agency and potential hires, the better the outcome will be. If you have a position description for the role you’re trying to fill, be sure to share this along with your knowledge of the team they will be working with and its culture. Culture fit is still a key factor for temporary placements and the more information you can provide will result in a better outcome overall. It’s important to give prospective candidates the opportunity to determine if it is a role they are willing to commit to. It’s best for them to decide with all the information and a clear understanding of the role, rather than two weeks into the assignment (and you’re back to square one).

Short-term pain for long-term gain: Every time we place a temporary staff member with a client, our aim is to ensure we are placing someone who has proven experience and knowledge in the role they have been engaged to do.  To gain the most value from your temporary staff member, you need to invest time to train them to perform their role within your business in order to get them up to speed as quickly as possible. Whilst it feels like the whole reason you engaged a temp is because there aren’t enough resources in your business, remember “short-term pain for long-term gain”. Make sure you’re allowing adequate time to get them up to speed. Don’t rush them in too quickly otherwise mistakes may occur down the track (or corners cut) due to a lack of sufficient training. To avoid this, check in and ensure they are performing their tasks competently before you leave them to work independently, knowing that they are working at the level you need them to be.

Beware of the honeymoon period: If you’ve ever had a position in your business that has been vacant for a period of time, engaging in a contractor can bring a massive sigh of relief. Staff morale can increase with an extra pair of hands to share the load and you start thinking about a potential permanent solution to your needs. You may very well have uncovered a potentially great long-term solution for your business, but it is important to be mindful of the honeymoon period. If you are considering offering a temporary contractor a permanent offer of employment, give them adequate time working in the temporary role before you begin these conversations. In many instances, a temp is often not performing all aspects of the permanent role initially. Make sure they have exposure to all aspects of the role and see how they handle the workload. Allowing adequate time also gives you a chance to assess their reliability and commitment. Prior to making an offer of employment, it’s important to have a formal discussion/interview to assess their long-term career aspirations and how they align with what you are offering.

Remember contractors are still people too: Whilst this is common sense, it does get forgotten from time to time. Your contractual obligations may differ to that of a permanent employee, but there shouldn’t be a second set of rules for contractors and how they are treated. Having temped early on in my career, I still remember sitting at my work station while the entire office gathered around me for morning tea. I wasn’t invited to attend because I overhead one staff member saying to another that I was “just a temp”. On the flip side, I’ve also been on the receiving end of farewell morning teas and thank you gifts (as have many of our current temp staff!) and felt truly welcomed into many businesses. It doesn’t need to be grand gestures, but simple common courtesy and respect for those who are working in your business temporarily. Contract staff may come and go throughout your business from time to time and they will be great advocates for you and your business, sharing their own positive experiences and promoting your brand through their own networks. A positive experience also leaves the door ajar with temps and contractors keen to return to your business for future opportunities.

In today’s market, it’s not just about engaging the right candidate for your temporary needs, it’s about retaining them too. They are an asset to your business that continue to appreciate it the longer they are with your team. If you would like to discuss a temporary need that you have within your business or learn more about the calibre of candidates we are currently working with, please feel welcome to contact me on 0427 539 233.

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