The long-term benefits of a short-term temp

We’ve all had that last minute panic on a Friday afternoon after realising Jon is off on holiday come Monday, Rita’s on jury service for two weeks and deadlines are due. How will the team cope with the workload? While situations are rarely quite this extreme, to avoid burn out, employers have to stay current and balance escalating work demands, the needs of today’s workforce and increasing requests for flexible working. This, I believe, is one of the reasons we’ve seen a significant boost in temporary workers. There’s been a real shift in mindset among my clients, with temporary workers no longer seen as just a short-term ‘necessary evil’ but, instead, as long-term value-add resource. 

So why do businesses use temporary employees? Historically, it was just to cover annual leave (short or long term), sick leave, maternity leave or to help hold the fort during peak periods. The decision to bring in an ‘extra pair of hands’ to provide short-term holiday cover or assist during a particularly busy time is often a gut reaction and clients alert their agency at short notice. These searches can frequently be more time consuming than anticipated and the rush can sometimes prove costly in relation to making the wrong hire. However, in the last couple of years, employers have approached us for locum cover much further in advance with a view to improving productivity amongst staff and the wider business. Anticipating changes in legislation faster than your competition, thinking about maternity leave 3+ months in advance or even pre-planning holiday cover really makes a difference with the quality of locum cover your agency partner can provide - and the value that locum can bring.

A particular client of mine has truly embraced this approach and we’ve enabled them to build a relationship with a professional Badenoch & Clark locum who now provides all their short-notice and short-term requisitions. The candidate understands the company structure, systems and processes and has established a genuine level of trust and rapport with the permanent employees. Ultimately, this provides the company with an improved level of stability in a potentially volatile situation and the team with a better work/life balance, granting them peace of mind that their work is covered diligently while they’re out of the office.

Locums are accustomed to entering situations where they need to hit the ground running quickly, accurately and efficiently and my client has realised that when the locum is working elsewhere – sometimes within competitor companies – they pick up skills and processes from different environments. My customer recognises the importance of this and sometimes involves the locum in wider business planning to ensure their permanent employees stay at the forefront of market trends and best practice.

In the last 12 months, I’ve also seen an increase in clients opting to ‘try before they buy’. The high street legal sector is extremely candidate led and applicants with the right skill set are hard to find. So employers are often left with vacancies which seem impossible to fill. Bringing in a temp while searching for the ‘ideal’ permanent hire helps take the pressure off – and, if your agency partner provides the right temporary cover, your short-term solution can often reveal themselves as the perfect candidate.

While employers may have never considered a particular temp as having potential as a permanent recruit, watching a worker deal with the day-to-day demands of a role gives hiring managers a valuable preview of their long-term performance and, most importantly, their fit within the company’s culture. Recruiting this way not only saves time, but also money as it eliminates the costly error of bringing on board the wrong permanent employee.

The nature of the temp market is changing and agile businesses who are open to incorporating temporary resource into their long-term business plan are gaining from their enlightened approach. Often it’s just a change of perception that can make all the difference.

So next time you’re faced with unscheduled sick leave or a six-month sabbatical, make sure you have a long-standing locum standing by. 

By Hayley Alfreds, Senior Recruitment Consultant | Legal Division



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