The ebbs and flows of business necessitate that your production facility be ready for any circumstance. That includes having a reliable source for skilled temporary personnel, because there will be times when your existing labor pool can't handle everything.

Whether it be a surprise big order, an uncontrollable situation like a natural disaster that prevents your employees from getting to the site, or a breakdown in the supply chain, business continuity best practice indicates that it may be prudent to call upon an outside staffing resource should you need skilled laborers at a moment's notice.

This can be a powerful resource you can use to reduce risk that can result from potential labor shortages in order to ensure you fulfill orders and keep your clients satisfied.

This need for additional personnel is not unique. In fact, more than 40 percent of companies plan to use temporary workers in any given year. The key is in finding and mobilizing the right workers quickly.

So, when employing skilled temporary workers, quality is one of the first things to consider. You need personnel with the right skills and experience, because unfilled or mis-filled positions can be costly. One way to solve these problems is to partner with a contingent staffing provider. Here's how to evaluate them to ensure you get the talent you need, when you need it.

1. Assess the Agency Prior to Hiring

Do the upfront leg work that you would normally do with an in-house employee. Start by vetting the staffing agency's hiring process. While minimal screening may be accepted for non-skilled jobs, like sorting and receiving jobs, you may require more robust screening procedures to fill skilled manufacturing positions, such as an Tool & Die Technicians, Robotic Technicians, CNC Programmers, Maintenance Technicians or Welders. It's important that the screening process utilized by the staffing agency should be thorough.

For example, it should include the following:

  • Personal interviews, certification verification and checking of references
  • Skills and attitude evaluation
  • Background check and drug testing
  • Consistent assessment of work quality

A firm without a thorough screening process adds unnecessary risk.

2. Look at the Full Package

Considering that, on average, manufacturers spend roughly 5 percent of their gross annual payroll on temporary hires, you need to ensure your temporary hires are appropriately managed as a valued resource. This goes for any industry, from mining and aircraft to rubber goods.

Good staffing firms that guarantee worker quality, and certain contingency staffing firms, usually provide onboarding and on-site management. You should plan to assess your temporary workers as you would your own, and track from the start if they are meeting certain performance criteria. It's important that they feel they a part of the team and culture making a difference, because it will equate to higher productivity, sooner.

You also want to evaluate metrics related to teamwork, such as display of interest in the job, attitude towards other employees and willingness to listen to suggestions from supervisors. Performance metrics should also be analyzed. Some good ones to examine include:

  • the ability to understand duties and tasks involved,
  • ability to recognize problems and take proper action,
  • and ability to discover where improvements can be made

It does not matter what evaluation scale you use, as long as the expectations are clear and the metrics or evaluation scale are aligned. 

3. Continuously Perform Worker & Vendor Reviews

As work goes on, evaluate the quality of your skilled temporary laborers using similar measurements as you would for your own workers.

Performance factors that vendors often apply include overall knowledge of the work, teamwork capabilities, and decision making skills. Other factors, such as the ability to manage change, dependability, adherence to safety standards, and responsiveness to customers and superiors, are typically important for production sites, and the best vendors screen for these attributes before sending personnel out of a job site.

4. Examine the Impact on Your Bottom Line

One key reason for hiring temporary workers is to reduce threats to business continuity that may result from a labor shortage no matter what the cause in order to meet customer demands and protect, improve or stabilize revenue. So, develop methods to determine the impact of these temporary skilled employees on your company's overall performance.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) in the production sector, like on-time delivery rate, manufacturing cycle time, yield, and capacity utilization, are generally crucial to the success of your production facility. These KPI's need to be established at the outset of any project.

If things aren't going the way you need, or if you encounter any other issues, its imperative to bring it up with the staffing agency, who should be more than willing to address your concerns and make the needed adjustments to ensure your goals are met for the duration of any project.

Succeeding With Skilled Temporary Laborers

In 2015, the amount of temporary help workers in the United States reached 2.9 million. On top of that, with about 20,000 staffing and recruiting agencies in the United States, it's no surprise it can be difficult to find the right staffing agency and workers. The good news is that many skilled workers are choosing the gig economy versus taking on full time positions, and there are many qualified Controls Engineers, Machinists, Welders, Production Workers, and other skilled personnel who welcome temporary assignments and have the skills and mindsets to thrive on meeting new challenges and opportunities.

Just remember that not all agencies are the same. It's very important to properly vet the staffing agency and make sure they have the right talent and management capabilities to meet your specific needs. Staying in consistent communication with the staffing firm, monitoring progress, and making adjustments is crucial.