Your small business may not have enough employees to cope with sudden increases in workload, such as a spike in orders around Christmas. You could hire another worker, which becomes a permanent expense. While she may stay busy temporarily, she may have nothing to do after demand dies down. Temporary employment can address this issue in a more cost-effective manner.


Temporary employment means hiring an employee for a contracted period. These contract or temp workers fulfill all the functions of regular employees and can help during increases in demands, or when your full-timers take vacations or go on maternity leave. They can also provide expertise for situations outside your company’s normal work range. For example, if your business undergoes an extensive financial audit, you can hire a temporary accountant to guide you through the process.


Temporary employees typically require no benefits, and are thus less expensive than a full-time hire. You pay them only for hours worked, and don’t have to worry about their taking vacations or holidays. If their performance is unsatisfactory, you can simply terminate them immediately without undergoing time-consuming processes. You can also try out a potential permanent worker by hiring him for a temporary position. If he works out, you can offer a full-time position. If not or if the budget suddenly dries up, you can fire him, which offers flexibility in staffing.


Each time you hire new temps for the same position, you need to train them, which eats up your time. Given that they are on the job for only a short period, they never develop the depth of knowledge or long-term work relationships experienced by longer hires. Temps do not have the same loyalty to your company as full-timers. If they feel their needs are not being met, they may simply not show up for work, and get a temporary position somewhere else.


You can go through the same hiring process for temporary employment as you would for full-time positions: place ads, read resumes, interview candidates and make a selection. But this may prove too time-consuming, especially if you need a worker only for a few days or a week. A more efficient method is to go through a temporary employment agency. In exchange for a fixed hourly rate, it finds workers to meet your needs, handles their payroll and other human resources issues, and replaces them immediately if they prove unsatisfactory. Depending on what you need done, a temporary staffing agency can send you a temporary worker in as little as a few hours.