A Competitive Edge through Better Onboarding

Back in October I wrote about the importance of sourcing and retaining top talent:

“Happy employees are more productive and have higher retention rates—and their happiness is contagious. Happy employees make your clients happy. And happy clients mean more work orders for you. In short, employee happiness translates to a better bottom line for your staffing firm.”

Few staffing managers would argue with those statements. But I’m surprised to see how many of them think they apply only to permanent hires and not to temporary employees. Maybe they think they’re saving some effort—and money—by not paying attention to those workers’ needs. In my opinion, this approach is penny wise and pound foolish.

Regardless of how long someone is scheduled to be in a placement, you must always remember that he contributes to the function of the organization. Each employee (whether temporary or permanent) has an opportunity to help—or hinder—a company, so you always want to be sure to have people at the top of their game.

There’s another, pragmatic consideration: you never know when a temp could turn into a permanent hire. It happens all the time, whenever companies seek to expand their ranks, or when they recognize talent in a temp and decide to move her into a permanent position. If you start from the beginning by cultivating the temp’s ability to do a job and her happiness at an organization, she’ll be more willing (and able) to stick around when asked.

With all of this in mind, consider the benefits of improving your onboarding program for new temporary employees. Regardless of how long you expect to place them, they need to understand their jobs, do them well, and function within their companies’ cultures. Putting the resources into this up front not only increases a placement’s effectiveness but also demonstrates to a client the added value you bring to your relationship.

And what does effective onboarding entail? Every organization has its own way of doing things, of course, but good onboarding recommendations usually include the following:

  • Have work stations (including technology access), employment paperwork, and a written list of responsibility and expectations prepared before new hires show up on their first day of work

  • Introduce new hires to their coworkers and to the company culture

  • Provide goals and incentives

  • Plan regular communication and assessment meetings, both as casual one-on-one chats every week or so and as formal reviews every few months

Although a comprehensive onboarding program does have an up-front cost to you, in the long run it will pay dividends. Communication and clarity are key. With those in place, your placements have a better chance to hit the ground running when they go to work for your clients. And when that happens, your employees do their jobs well, your clients reap the benefits of that work, and you strengthen your relationships with your clients. It’s a win-win-win situation—you can’t lose!


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