How to Motivate Temporary Employees to do Their Best

motivate temporary employees

According to a report (PDF) from the National Employment Law Project, the number of U.S. workers working in temporary jobs has reached an all-time high of 2.8 million people.

As the holiday shopping season approaches, your small business might be planning on hiring some temporary workers. But while you’re relying heavily on those temps, they may not feel so passionately about your business. In fact, since temporary workers are often lower-paid than other employees, they might be quite disengaged.

So how can you motivate temporary employees to get the best results? Below are some ideas.

Offer Cash Bonuses

Because of their generally lower wages, temps are highly motivated by money.

Consider holding contests with cash prizes (it doesn’t have to be a ton of money) or setting goals for each temp with a bonus to be awarded if the goals are reached by the end of their employment term.

You could even offer a bonus for perfect attendance, since absenteeism can be a problem with temporary workers.

Make New Friends

Temps are often treated like second-class citizens, which isolates and de-motivates them even further.

Introduce temps to the rest of your staff and explain what they’ll be doing and how long they’ll be around. Try pairing a temp with a full-time or permanent worker who can not only train and guide the temp, but also help him or her assimilate into the workplace. (You might want to offer full-time employees a bonus or reward for handling this.)

Include temps in social activities such as company lunches or happy hours.

Team Up

Working in teams that include both permanent and temporary workers motivates everyone.

Consider holding departmental contests or setting departmental challenges to spur friendly competition and build camaraderie. Offer fun prizes for the winning team.

Offer Them Opportunities

Many temps take temporary jobs in hopes of getting a permanent job offer.

When hiring temps, do so with an eye to future growth in your company. Even if you don’t have a job to offer the temp, see if you can give him or her a chance to learn new skills. This will help the temp get better jobs in the future and serves as a strong motivator for coming to work each day.

Train, Observe and Correct

Even if a temp comes to you with lots of experience in a certain area, such as point-of-sale retail sales or accounting, he or she doesn’t know how your company handles things.

Making sure temps get training in your company’s systems, rules and philosophy will make them feel part of the team, as opposed to just throwing them in to figure things out for themselves on the first day.

You or a manager should also observe the temp at work and offer praise or correct mistakes so the person can get better.

Stay in Touch

Have an especially good temp?

Keep his or her contact info on file in case a job opens up. Also send the person away with a reference letter he or she can use when applying for other jobs. Knowing that this job can lead to future possibilities will motivate temporary workers to do their best and make a good impression.

Employee Photo via Shutterstock


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

5 Reactions
  1. I agree. It is all a matter of caring about their needs. If you show them that you care to go another mile to meet their needs, they will know and they will be extremely motivated.

  2. Yes motivating & showing caring attitude towards temporary employees is great to channelize them & their energy into positive ways, believe all supports needs to be given to make grow & shine.

  3. Correct!, This article is most helpful to companies that are worried about the productivity of their own employee. They should care for their employees because they are the one who are fueling the company and without them the company would just fall into pieces. The companies should train them, give them their needs, understand them, and most of all Love them. 🙂