Who Needs Retention Strategies for Temp Workers?

Attrition leaves debilitating and deleterious effects in its wake on the productivity and welfare of an organisation. While the need to retain permanent employees is well understood, it is equally important to ensure that contract workers complete their engagements before moving on.  This makes it necessary for companies and their staffing suppliers to adopt some retention strategies to arrest contract worker attrition.

It is possible to fix some things before they are broken, while it may prove impossible to do so later – and attrition is one of them.   Each organisation will have its own specific set of reasons for why people leave. It is necessary to delve deep and isolate the causes. While exit interviews may help, you will learn more from employee satisfaction surveys or word-of-mouth responses about why someone really left.

Let us look at some of the usual reasons for attrition, as reported by contingent workers in exit interviews.  While it is generally assumed that contingent workers prematurely leave assignments due to offers of permanent employment or higher wages, the results differ significantly:

•Unfavourable or unsafe working conditions

•Long work hours with no flexibility in work schedules

•Lack of support, coaching or mentoring

•Lack of respect and/or appreciation

•An atmosphere of discrimination

•Lip service paid to ethical and fair practices

To determine if your company has an attrition problem or would benefit from a retention plan, gather information and data on the following:

1. What is the mix of skills of temporary workers?  How many are unskilled or entry level? How many are experienced people representing coveted skills?

2. How many of your temporary workers stay for the duration of their assignment?

3. Do they leave after very short periods, or do they leave after putting in a longer number of hours?

4. Does the attrition vary by role or by location?

If the results establish a need for change, decide what you want the culture of your company to be, and take steps to build that culture.  Start at the very beginning, with the basics:

•Examine your job descriptions to ensure that staffing supplier’s source candidates have both the skill and the will to do the job. Some innovative companies verify the fit by having applicants work in a simulated environment that mirrors everything from reporting time to task at hand.

•Provide feedback to suppliers on submitted candidates. Why are they not a fit?  What are
your priorities in selecting a candidate?

•Work with suppliers to establish on boarding procedures and orientation programs that
give workers a clear understanding of the work environment and expectations.

•Ensure that the supplier and/or managed services provider regularly contact workers to assess performance, determine satisfaction and address issues.

•Create an atmosphere of respect and support in all interactions at the workplace, with
subordinates, colleagues – whether temporary or permanent – and/or customers.   Quickly address issues of discrimination toward contract workers.

•Ask suppliers to provide reward and recognition programs that encourage high performers.

•Follow the old adage, “promise less – do more”. Employees, whether temp or perm, may put up with a no-incentive environment, but broken promises are an entirely different issue.

The above strategies will require a continued follow-up and commitment. But there is no doubt that true benefits will accrue in the long term. Engage employees and suppliers in defining the changes to be made and seek understanding and support from all quarters for the proposed initiatives and changes. It may also help to customise the changes to fit the organisation’s unique history, culture and objectives.

Should you require any further information or require a more consultative response then please contact Gary Wilson on 01246 278 000