• Sally Eubanks

Onboarding Temporary Staff Members

Updated: Mar 21


Milton Berle once said, if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. For many companies wanting to fill positions, opportunity has not knocked and there have been no qualified candidates to fill full-time positions. This has required companies to think outside the box and open doors to new ways of doing things. One such door is the use of temporary staffing using a staffing agency.

Staffing Agencies Yesterday and Today

The use of a staffing agency to find temporary staff has been around for over a century. During World War Two they were used to fill the many positions left open by the draft. Oftentimes they were used to fill unskilled labor positions and low-paying factory work. That is no longer the case today. Although most staffing agencies do still work with unskilled laborers to find work, they also work with Fortune 500 companies, hiring positions in marketing, software engineering, and finance. Even hospitals are using temporary staffing to fill positions for doctoral and nursing staff.

Why Onboarding is Important to Temporary Staff

Temporary staffing or contract work is the way of the future. It is the perfect solution for filling the 11 million positions open in America today, especially when it allows positions to be filled while companies test the waters with recruits. It is also a popular choice of work for professionals in all fields today. 39% of workers looking for work say they would consider doing contract work as their full-time career. This means that companies can expect to see a lot more temporary staff members.

It is important to pay special attention to the onboarding process for these workers. Even among professionals who work for their company full time, only 30% felt their onboarding process was very effective. Among short-term contract workers, the percentage who had successful onboarding was even less.

Remember that for all employees, onboarding is a tone-setter. It is often their first bird’s-eye view of a company’s culture and day-to-day processes. A slap-dash onboarding or lack of one at all shows two things to your temporary employees. The first is that management lacks preparedness and may not be counted on for needs in the future. The second is that they are not valued as members of the company’s team. This can lead to a negative experience for temporary employees and also leave them with gaps in knowledge that they may need on the job.

Remember that as much as the company is evaluating a staffing agency’s choice in a candidate, a candidate is also evaluating the company they were sent to work for. They will be sharing their negative experiences with the company with the staffing agency. They may even be asked to let out of their contract early.

Poor treatment or low retention on a part of a company can led to loss of a contract with the staffing agency. This means the company would be losing, not only highly qualified candidates already working with them, but would also be losing a valuable recruitment partner for future positions. Even in the best-case scenario, a lack of a proper onboarding process leaves the company with an employee, however temporary, that is not aware of all of their policies and procedures.

What to Include in the Onboarding Process

Introductions: Contact lists are nice, but it is important to be able to put a face with the name. Introductions also make temporary employees feel less like a number and more like a person. Even if they are only with your team for a short period of time; temporary staff members should be made to feel as if they are valued.


Introductions are a great way to welcome these temporary employees to the team and also give them knowledge of who they can turn to for various needs. They should be introduced to members of HR, managers in their department, and anyone else important they may be interacting with on a regular basis. You may even set them up with a mentor to help show them the ropes.

Tools of the Trade: There is nothing worse than showing up for your first day of work and not having access to the hardware and software needed to be successful. It’s a bad look for the company and even worse for productivity. Make sure all necessary hardware is updated and ready for the temporary employee’s use. Be sure to have all emails and logins activated and give them to the employee during onboarding. Familiarize temporary employees with systems unique to your company. Communication tools especially can vary greatly from company to company so be sure to provide a brief overview of how yours works.

Company Culture: Company culture is what binds all employees together. It is both a way of doing business and a way of celebrating people. Each company has a unique culture with its own set of values. Coming into a company without having an understanding of its culture is like being invited to dinner at a fancy restaurant when you do not know what fork to use. You can still eat but everyone will notice if you make a faux pas.


Give your temporary employees a little taste of what your culture is like. Do you have a set of values you prize? Are things in your office done more formally or is it a more laid-back sort of atmosphere? These are things all employees should know. Many companies even provide videos during onboarding that briefly reflect their ideology.

Expectations: The single most important part of onboarding is making sure the employee is aware of the expectations you have for them. They should be made aware of the responsibilities they will oversee in their day-to-day job. Imagine sitting at a desk and staring blankly at a screen because you have no set tasks to do. It's a waste of productivity.


They should also know how it fits into the bigger picture on their team, how their work affects their teammates. The temporary staff members know they will only be a part of your company for a short while, but they should be made to feel that they are no less important. No matter how long they are there, their duties affect the work of their coworkers and are a part of the cog that keeps your company moving.


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