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How to Motivate Temporary Staff

Published May 16, 2019 (last updated November 18, 2020) -

Motivating Temporary, Casual and Seasonal Workers

Every now and then, small businesses need to rely on temporary staff. Whether it’s casuals who help at peak times, seasonal workers who come and go, or fixed term employees to help deliver a specific project, an extra set of hands can help employers meet their long and short-term goals.

While it sounds great in theory, in practice it can be a bit more challenging. The short-term nature of their work means that temporary staff may not always buy-in to the vision, goals and mission of the workplace where they are stationed. Motivation may be a struggle, and the bare minimum can become standard.

Conversely, other temporary workers may be energised and excited to contribute to a new workplace or project, seeing at it an opportunity to showcase their unique skills and add to their experience. Yet, due to the temporary nature of their work, employers may miss an opportunity to maximise the enthusiasm or skills of temporary staff — which can be a deflating and disappointing exercise for everyone involved.

But what if there were ways to capitalise on the full potential of temporary staff, and give them the motivation to perform at their best for your business, whether it’s for one week or one year? Let’s look at some practical ways you can motivate your temporary staff.

Induction and Onboarding

While a business induction and onboarding is common for full time hires, it can sometimes be an after-thought for temporary staff. Their short-term presence means that businesses don’t often see the need to induct and onboard temporary staff. Yet this is precisely the kind of initiative that gets temporary staff excited about the business, its goals and their role in delivering them.

Oftentimes, this means taking extra time to properly introduce them to the business, its objectives and key people. But it can also be much more simple things like buddying them up with a full-time member of your team, making sure their equipment is available and set-up, and giving them a heads-up on the best place to get coffee near the office.

Goal and Deadline Setting

Don’t let your temporary staff work in a silo, with no clear idea of how their works contributes to the broader organisation. Just like anyone else, temporary staff are motivated by clear goals and deadlines. Giving them something to works towards and how it fits within the overall objectives of the team, and a timeline in which to achieve it, can be a powerful motivator.

Be Inclusive

This applies to any employee, but it’s especially true for temporary staff — make them feel part of the team. Invite them to business events, include them in team activities and ask for their input in team meetings. Making someone feel valued and that they have an opportunity to participate and contribute to the team is a simple way to spark motivation and encourage people to perform at their best, especially for temps who can feel on the outer.

Appreciation and Affirmation

Temporary staff play a pivotal role in the success of many businesses and are a vital resource. Yet it’s all too common for this fact to be ignored or overlooked. Interestingly, one study from Psychometrics found that when asked what business leaders could do to improve staff engagement, 58% of respondents said that giving recognition would be their top choice. It seems simple, but validation works.

Taking the time to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of temporary workers and how their contributions support your business go a long way to making sure they are motivated and productive members of your team.

Need a hand with temporary staff?

From policies through to contracts, Employsure Advisers can help you manage the employment process and help you understand your obligations. Contact Us today to learn more about how we can support your business and help you get it right.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small and medium businesses, with over 5,500 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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