Temporary workers offer a number of benefits for Canadian companies. You can test out someone’s skills and fit with your team before you make a firm commitment—an important benefit in compliance-heavy HR environments. Temp workers also help businesses scale up and down to meet contract demands or fill skills gaps quickly.

Employers aren't the only people seeing value in temp processes. 84% of temporary workers say that these types of positions are important stepping stones in their careers. But knowing when to hire temporary workers is the first step to ensuring everyone can benefit from this relationship. Here are six times you might want to consider hiring temporary workers for your business.

women talking
women talking

1. to fill in for sick employees or other absences

When someone calls in sick or takes planned time off for a holiday, you have a few options for handling the gap they leave behind:

  • ignore it and hope it goes away. This is the least effective choice. It lets work pile up and assumes the person will handle it all when they get back—creating processes that are bad for customer experience and employee morale. 
  • ask other employees to cover it. A temporary hole can be filled by other employees working faster or longer hours, right? It's possible, but you increase the risk of errors that drive down quality. Rely on this option too much and you also reduce employee morale and increase turnover.
  • hire temp workers to stand in the gap. Qualified temp workers can step in to handle some of the work, reducing your reliance on other staff and increasing customer satisfaction, efficiency and productivity.

2. to cover employees on leave

The longer a position is left vacant by someone, the greater the consequences of not filling it can be. If someone is on maternity, parental, disability or another type of leave, you probably can't afford to ignore their workload and hope it gets taken care of when they get back.

At the same time, you can't necessarily hire another permanent staff member to take care of that work. What happens when your employee returns from leave? You'd have two staff members when you only needed one.

A clear answer to this is hiring temp workers who are qualified to do the job when your employee goes on leave. When the employee returns, the temp worker steps out of the role and the permanent staff member picks up where they left off.

3. to fill temporary skills gaps

Sometimes it's not people you're missing—it's a specific skill. Hiring temp workers is a great way to fill skills gaps while trying out new employees and processes without a more serious commitment on your part.

You might only need the skills for a short time while your permanent staff members complete training, for example. Or, you may be dealing with a specific short-term project that requires skills you don't normally have a need—or a budget—for.

4. to complete short-term projects

Hiring permanent staff for short-term projects doesn't make business sense and can be a serious drag on your bottom line. At the same time, relying on your existing resources doesn't always work. Here are just two examples of short-term projects that might call for hiring temp workers.

  • IT or other types of upgrades. For example a business migrating from on-premises solutions to the cloud might need developers and other IT resources to support the transition. But following implementation, the need for IT resources usually goes down to maintenance-related tasks. You could hire temporary IT specialists to complete a migration and only keep resources you need for daily support following project completion. Any type of short-term or implementation-based project is a perfect time to hire temp workers.
  • Annual inventory. Imagine you have to count everything in the stockroom or all the medical supplies in a clinic over the weekend. You could demand that existing staff volunteer to do the job, but are people who answer your phones, manage sales calls or care for patients going to be the best at accurately counting inventory? Not necessarily, and overtime it might get expensive both monetarily and in terms of employee goodwill. Instead, you could hire temp workers adept at inventory management to get the job done fast, right and without long-term team culture consequences. 

5. to support permanent staff who are overworked

You can only squeeze so much productivity out of existing employees, no matter how dedicated or high-quality your teams are. Time, energy, creativity, problem-solving capability—these are a few examples of resources that are simply not infinite within each person. 

At some point, if you need more of those types of resources, you need to bring in more people. Hiring temporary workers is a great way to scale up teams to supply that much-needed support and relief.

6. to cover urgent increases in business 

Market forces and other factors that lead to increases in your business may call for agile scaling on your part. Whether you're facing increased sales or customer calls due to the pandemic or planning for the normal ebb and flow in your organization’s seasonal demand, temp workers help you meet the growing needs. Hiring temporary staff also lets you scale up without committing yourself to long-term worker relationships, so you can scale down easily if the time for that comes.

work with an HR partner to hire the right temp workers no matter the job

Download our guide to why you should partner with a staffing firm to support your temp worker hiring processes. Find out how we can help you fill positions fast, accurately and with an eye toward a successful future.