Can you motivate a temp?

TempIf you are having difficulty finding work, one strategy is to join the “temp community.”

Like many of you out there, I have friends who work as temps while actively seeking regular full time employment. That’s what I would do if I were in their shoes. But what does that mean for the company who hires the temp? It probably means that the company doesn’t have a fully engaged employee. Of course, when a person is hired as a temp, mutual engagement isn’t the first message the temp receives. The situation can be likened to a sofa bed – not quite a bed and not quite a sofa. Or in the case of a temp, “You work for us, but not quite.” Is there any way to push the envelope a bit so that a temp can become more engaged, even while looking for work elsewhere? I think there is.

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  • Spend time getting to know the temp at the beginning of the engagement.
    I have seen employers hire a temp, set them up at a desk and just start them on the task at hand. There is no sense of welcome or attempt to bring the temp into the work culture. For most of us, social interaction is an important part of our work day. If you are the contact person or supervisor for the temp employee and you essentially isolate her for most of the work day, you can bet that the connection to the work effort will be diminished. Spend a bit of time getting to know this person and I’m pretty sure that will pay off down the road.


  • Share information about the company and thoroughly train the temp for the assignment.
    If you are the contact person for the temp, tell her about your company and how the work she is doing fits into the team or unit she is working with. Tell her where she can eat lunch, get extra work supplies or who to see if she needs assistance outside the scope of her work. Give your temp an understanding of the bigger picture. What the company does, information about some key employees, more detail about the managers and employees she is working with will provide a sense of engagement. Give her a sense that what she is doing is important to the overall project. Provide training that will help her succeed at the assignment. Monitor her progress and provide feedback. The temp needs to get a sense that, while the company may not be able to commit to a long term position at this time, it does care about the people who help it accomplish its goals.


  • Become an advocate for the temp.
    If the temp is demonstrating qualities you want in a full time employee, engage in a conversation with her so you can determine if she is interested in working for your company and learn more about her career interests. You can keep your eyes open for internal opportunities, even if those opportunities are elsewhere in the company. Acknowledge to the temp that you understand she may be looking for full time employment. Tell her you would like to accommodate that goal. Once she has a sense that you understand her need for full time work and that you are advocating for her, you will more likely have a temp who will manage her need to take time off with consideration for the work she is doing at your company.


And so, the bottom line is:

[message type=”info”]When a person feels she matters, the work she’s doing for you will matter more.[/message]



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