How To Hire a Temp Employee: Tips for Success

How To Hire a Temp Employee: Tips for Success

Do you want to enhance your team with flexible staffing solutions? Whether you need extra hands during peak business periods, replacements for absent staff, or specialists for specific projects, temporary workers could be the answer. This dynamic part of the workforce can bring much-needed skills and versatility to your operations.

In this guide, we’ll navigate the process of hiring temp workers, shining a light on both benefits and potential challenges. This resource can help you transform your human resources strategy with the power of part-time employees and temporary staffing.

What is a temp employee?

A temporary employee—often sourced through a temp agency—is hired for a specific period to meet seasonal demand, cover specific staffing needs, or sub for a permanent employee.

This period could be during seasonal peaks, to cover for a regular employee’s absence, or to fill a temporary position that doesn’t require a long-term commitment.

But before we dig deeper into the world of temporary work, we should differentiate the different types of nonpermanent workers.

  • Freelancer. A freelancer is a self-employed individual who typically specializes in a certain field. They may work with multiple clients and manage their own schedules and project loads. A freelancer might handle a specific project or ongoing service.
  • Independent contractor. Independent contractors are similar to freelancers because both are self-employed, but independent contractors may lead a team (for instance, a construction contractor or a medical professional running a private practice). They often take on longer projects than freelancers and are more likely to work on-site. Independent contractors are a type of contract worker used for specialized tasks.
  • Temp employee. Temp employees fill in for regular employees, help meet seasonal demand, or work on specific projects. They may not specialize in a certain field, but some staffing agencies offer specialist services. Temp employees typically work with one or two clients at a time and might be on the temp agency’s payroll. This arrangement can be particularly beneficial during times of increased need, such as the holiday season when seasonal workers are in high demand.

Why hire a temp employee?

Hiring a temp employee can be a good option for your business’s short-term needs. Whether you’re facing an unusually busy period, a large project, or a full-time staff member’s temporary absence, a temp employee can step in and keep your business running smoothly.

Moreover, a temp employee can serve as a trial run before hiring someone full time. This temp-to-hire approach can give you a sense of an individual’s fit within your company culture and their performance before committing to a direct hire. It’s a cost-effective method to ensure the person you’re hiring is the best fit for the full-time position.

Hire temp employee

How to hire a temp employee

In this section, we cover the steps to hire a temporary employee for your business.

Tips for hiring a temp employee:

  1. Determine your needs
  2. Find a temp agency or freelancer
  3. Conduct thorough interviews
  4. Provide clear expectations
  5. Offer an engaging onboarding experience
  6. Evaluate performance and extend the assignment (if appropriate)

1. Determine your needs

The first step in the hiring process should be a clear and thorough evaluation of your business’s needs. What specific tasks will your temp employee perform? What’s the expected duration of their assignment? And what skills and experience are required for the role?

Use this information to develop a thoughtful job description, which is crucial for attracting the right potential employees. Job seekers are more likely to apply when they have a clear understanding of the role’s responsibilities, duration, and required qualifications.

Some things to consider include:

  • Tasks. Outline the temp employee’s specific tasks. Whether it’s administrative work, customer service, or a specialized project, defining this upfront can help you and the candidate understand what the job involves.
  • Length of assignment. How long will your job candidate work for you? Be clear whether it’s a short-term assignment to cover a leave, a seasonal position during your peak business period, or a temp-to-hire position with the potential for permanent employment.
  • Skills and experience. Determine the necessary skills and experience for the role. Are you seeking someone with skills in a specific software program? Do you need someone with customer service experience? This information can help you find the best fit for the role.

2. Find a temp agency or freelancer

Once you know what you need, the next step is finding a temp agency or freelancer specializing in your industry or job type.

Many staffing agencies offer a range of services, while others focus on specific industries or roles. Similarly, many freelancers specialize in certain fields or offer unique skill sets. Platforms like Upwork make it easy to find and connect with highly skilled freelancers across various fields.

Request references and check reviews when considering a temp agency or freelancer. Past client experiences can provide valuable insights into a temp agency’s reliability or a freelancer’s quality of work.

Look at costs and what you get for your money. It’s not only about how much you pay, but also about what you get back. This could be the quality of people they find for you, the agency’s know-how in your industry, or the unique skills a freelancer brings.

In the end, you want to find the best deal for your business needs.

3. Conduct thorough interviews

Before diving in, you’ll need a game plan. How will you ensure the potential employee can fulfill your job requirements?

Start by crafting pointed interview questions to help you gauge a candidate’s skills and experience and how they gel with your company culture. You could ask about their past roles, how they handle tricky situations, or their approach to feedback. These questions can help you peek into their potential as a temp employee.

Then, it’s time to meet the candidates over the phone or face to face. While phone interviews can save time and serve as a preliminary screening, face-to-face interviews (whether in-person or remote) offer a better sense of the candidate’s personality and potential fit with your team.

After the interview, verify their references and past work history. Think of it as doing your homework to ensure their interview stories match their professional track record.

4. Provide clear expectations

Once you’ve found your temp employee, you’ll want to set them up for success. Remember the detailed job description we discussed earlier? It’s like a road map showing them which tasks they’ll tackle, the outcomes you’re expecting, and how they’ll contribute to your team. You’ll want to circle back to this and ensure your employee knows exactly what you expect from them.

This isn’t just a list of duties—it’s your chance to paint a clear picture of what their role entails. This could include details like who to report to, specific outcomes, and communication expectations.

Next up: timelines. Ensure your temp knows how long they’re on board. Is it a short-term gig, or is there a chance for it to roll into something long term? Transparency avoids any misinterpretations down the road.

Be open about the rate and payment schedule from the get-go. This ensures there are no surprises or misunderstandings later. Also, cover other details like work hours, reporting structures, and tools needed for the job.

The more information they have, the smoother the ride.

5. Offer an engaging onboarding experience

Now it’s time to roll out the welcome mat to your new employee. You want to immerse them in your company culture and make them feel like part of the team. A good orientation is key. Remember: even if they’re only around for a short while, they can still make a big impact.

For shorter assignments, a quick rundown of the basics might do the trick. But a full orientation could be a great move if they’re with you for a longer time. Show them the ropes, introduce them to their co-workers, and make them feel at home.

Training is also a must. Whether it’s safety protocols, job-specific tasks, or getting the hang of new software, ensure your temp hire is well-equipped to hit the ground running. Offer ongoing support and feedback throughout their assignment so they can keep improving.

After all, their success is your success.

6. Evaluate performance and extend the assignment (if appropriate)

It’s time to check in with your temp. Are they meeting the expectations you laid out in the job description? Are they getting along with your team? Regular evaluations can give you answers.

Don’t hold back on providing feedback. Let them know what they’re doing well and where they could improve. Constructive feedback can help them step up their game, which is a win for everyone.

Now, what if your temp knocks it out of the park? If they’re doing a great job and there’s still work to be done, why not extend the assignment? It could be a great opportunity to continue benefiting from their skills, especially if they’ve become a valuable asset to your team.

Pros and cons of hiring a temp employee

Hiring a temp employee comes with both advantages and potential drawbacks.


Hiring a temp employee comes with a host of benefits, like:

  • A trial period. Before making a job offer for a full-time position, you can use a temp role as a trial run. This can help you assess the employee’s fit with your team and their ability to meet job expectations.
  • Access to specialized skills. Temp employees often bring unique skill sets to the team. They may have expertise your regular employees don’t, which can be incredibly valuable for specific projects.
  • Flexibility. With temp employees, you can quickly scale your workforce up or down based on business needs. This is particularly useful during busy seasons or unexpected staff absences.
  • Less complicated benefits management. Temp workers typically receive their benefits from the staffing agency, not directly from your company. This means less paperwork and management on your end.
  • A quicker hiring process. Temp agencies have a pool of pre-vetted candidates, allowing you to bypass traditional job boards and background checks to speed up the hiring process.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Temporary workers can help you control costs as they’re typically hired for a specific project or time period. This allows you to only pay for the work you need without committing to a permanent salary.


Some challenges that come with hiring temp employees are:

  • Training time. Hiring a temp worker may require investing time and resources in training, especially if the position requires specialized knowledge or skills. This could affect productivity, at least initially.
  • Lack of team cohesion. Temp workers might not feel the same level of commitment or loyalty to your company as permanent employees, potentially impacting teamwork and morale.
  • Limited institutional knowledge. Temporary employees likely won’t have the same depth of understanding of your company’s culture, processes, and systems as your regular employees. This could lead to inefficiencies or misunderstandings.
  • Safety concerns. If your work environment involves physical labor or hazardous conditions, temporary workers who are less familiar with your safety procedures could be at a higher risk for workplace accidents.
  • Uncertainty. With temporary employment, there’s always the underlying uncertainty about the future. Will the temp worker be available if you want to extend their contract? Will they fit in well with your permanent staff?

Temp employee FAQ

We answer some common questions about hiring temporary employees.

What is the typical length of a temporary employment contract?

The length of a temporary employment contract can vary. It all depends on what you need for your business. You could bring in a temp hire for just a few days if one of your regular employees is out sick, or you might need them for several months if there’s a big project or it’s a busy season. However, on average, a temp job usually lasts three to six months.

Can I offer temporary employees benefits?

Yes, you can offer temporary employees benefits. However, the types of benefits and eligibility may differ from those of regular employees.

Some temporary employees might be eligible for benefits like health insurance or 401(k) plans, depending on assignment length and staffing agency or employer policies. Checking with your HR department and benefits providers, as well as consulting with legal counsel, is important to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

How do I terminate a temporary employee’s contract?

You must consider a few things before ending a temporary employee’s contract. First, review the contract terms to ensure you’re complying with any notice requirements. Then, schedule a meeting with the employee to discuss the termination and provide written documentation outlining the reasons for their dismissal.

Be professional and respectful during the meeting and ensure you have a plan for any unfinished work or projects. Finally, complete any necessary paperwork, such as termination forms or final paychecks, and remove the employee from any company systems or access points.

Hire your next temp employee on Upwork

Hiring temporary workers can be an excellent solution for your short-term needs, before committing to a full-time hire, or when accessing specialized skill sets. Consider checking out Upwork, where you can find highly qualified freelancers and agencies for all your temp hiring needs.

Or consider trialing and hiring potential full-time employees with Upwork Full-Time. Start your hiring process today and take advantage of the flexibility and benefits of temporary workers.

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How To Hire a Temp Employee: Tips for Success
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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