For more than five years, the logistics industry has struggled with employee shortages. Now, on the front lines of the pandemic crisis, logistics employers are scrambling even more to meet demand and manage overhead, in an unpredictable and intensely competitive hiring environment.
One approach to hiring that has become increasingly commonplace in response to current market uncertainties is the use of temporary and temp-to-perm workers. In fact, a recent Gartner survey on COVID-19-related workplace trends states that nearly one in three companies will be hiring more contingent workers as a way to reduce costs and achieve greater workforce management flexibility. The recent shift away from in-person to online shopping has caused a surge in demand for supply chain, warehouse and distribution center workers. As competition for temporary workers intensifies, employers are boosting wages and perks, and promoting more opportunities for full-time jobs.
Simply put, a temporary worker is brought in to fill an immediate gap in skillsets or bandwidth. With fewer interviews compared to those for permanent hires, the decision to hire a temporary worker is much faster. The focus is traditionally on skillset and availability for the duration of the assignment, with less attention given to team and cultural fit.
Over the past eight months, hiring more temporary workers has helped logistics companies deal with spikes in demand while minimizing risk. However, combined market uncertainty; talent shortages; and the need to expedite hiring of skilled roles such as maintenance technicians, control system technicians and production operators, opens the door for more hiring process errors. In recent months we’ve seen more instances of employers failing to:
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, here are five best practices to help avoid some of the most common pitfalls — and streamline the hiring, retaining and transitioning of temporary workers.
Think long-term. Today, there’s an increased likelihood that your new temporary worker may be your next permanent hire, so screen for core skillsets and cultural or team fit as you would for other employees. Consider the following:
Make interviews personal and welcoming. No candidate, temporary or permanent, should be treated like a commodity or required to fit into a role for which they aren’t a good match. All communications with the candidate should be genuine, personalized, and demonstrate the value of working with your company, regardless of the role.
Just as with permanent hires, be clear on what you expect from temporary workers in terms of their role, responsibilities and level of performance. Personalize the interview by helping the temporary worker to visualize a future with the company, but don’t guarantee it. Share examples of employees that started on a temporary basis, converted to a permanent role, and have contributed to the growth of the company. Throughout the interview, continue to emphasize the opportunities of the role, including the longer duration of contract terms (six months plus), solid company brand or product, approachable management, and the real prospect of going perm. Providing timely candidate feedback also contributes to a positive candidate experience.
Invest time in onboarding. Although temporary workers typically go through some training, most get to work fairly quickly, as they already have the skill required for the job. Ramp-up time is further reduced since part of the onboarding process (employment agreement, benefits, background checks, drug screening, timekeeping and payroll) is typically done with the recruiting or staffing firm, rather than the internal human resources department.
While the goal is to get them up to speed quickly, temporary workers still benefit from gaining meaningful insight into the company's mission, culture and customer value. Like permanent employees, you want to set them up for success, get them connected to co-workers, and be confident about their roles and contributions to the organization. Other onboarding orientations should include safety and procedures training and an overview of policies on disability, workplace harassment and discrimination.
After the onboarding process is complete, call (and e-mail) the temporary worker and provide instructions on what to expect for the first day, such as where to report and when, whom to ask for, applicable technology, and a point of contact for future needs. Even better, have a hiring manager do this call, to make the temporary worker feel extra welcomed.
Streamline the temp-to-perm transition. While logistics companies already hire temp-to perm on a regular basis and have practices in place, here are a few tips to help further improve the process:
Optimize the relationship with your external recruiting firm. Considering the competitiveness of recruiting logistics talent, you want to be sure your recruiting firm is doing the best possible job for you. Start by making sure they do the following:
As demand stabilizes and we move beyond the pandemic, temp-to-perm hiring will become increasingly commonplace for more diverse supply-chain roles than in previous years. Sustaining a pipeline of quality talent over the long term requires employers to make the temp-to-perm transition an integral part of their overall hiring plan, in order to keep pace with demand, stay competitive, and deliver first-class customer service.
Keith Garrett is vice president of talent solutions for Orion Talent, a provider of recruitment process outsourcing services for the mid-market.
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