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Temp-to-Hire Option Gains Favor in Cautious Business Environment

As the economy improves, many firms are bringing in temporary accounting and finance professionals to help meet business demands and to alleviate uncertainty in the hiring process.

June 21, 2010
Sponsored by Accountemps

During the recession, many accounting firms understandably focused on responding to immediate needs and problems. While facing significant challenges and business uncertainty, they may not have had the time or resources to give as much thought as they normally would to future plans. Now, as confidence in the economy appears to be returning, it’s a good time to re-evaluate your staffing situation and lay the groundwork for growth.

Temporary-to-Hire Growing in Popularity

Some firms, eager to take advantage of the high caliber of accounting and finance professionals now on the market, are selectively hiring individuals who would make strong additions to their teams, including a deep pool of promising entry-level candidates. Many organizations that are not quite ready to hire on a full-time basis are increasingly bringing in temporary accounting and finance professionals to help them meet growing demand for their services while alleviating workload pressures on current employees.

For many firms that find themselves struggling with decisions about whether to hire and when, a combination of the two approaches is best. A temporary-to-hire arrangement not only provides reinforcements whenever and wherever needed, it also enables prospective employers to evaluate these individuals’ on-the-job performance and assess their readiness for planned or future full-time positions. This can take some of the uncertainty out of the hiring process and improves the odds of making a successful job match.

To Hire or Not to Hire?

So what’s the right solution for your firm? You may be able to fill some gaps by shifting the work responsibilities of current employees so that long-awaited promotions are granted or team members receive opportunities to develop new expertise and continue to grow with your firm. If you find, however, that a long-term pattern of increased work is developing that is overwhelming your core team, you will likely need additional resources. Following are some of the most telling signs that you may need to add employees:

  • Team members are regularly working overtime to finish projects.
  • Everyone is working at capacity 100 percent of the time.
  • You seem to be chronically short-staffed.
  • A single absence throws everything off schedule.
  • Important but non-urgent projects are repeatedly deferred.
  • Your team is showing signs of stress and burnout.

If you’re seeing these signs, how do you go about adding staff? First, recognize that staffing is more than just recruiting full-time employees. You can address your particular situation by building an adjustable mix of temporary, full-time and temporary-to hire professionals. This staffing approach is flexible enough to help you weather a range of economic environments because it allows you to respond quickly to changing demands and requirements. Observing these steps can enable you to get the most out of the use of temporary and project employees:

  • Get your team’s input. Prior to engaging a project professional, check with your staff members to make sure you’re all on the same page about where the firm needs help. They may suggest finding someone with specialized tax expertise, while you’re thinking that someone with small business experience is needed most.
  • Make them feel welcome. Provide interim professionals with an orientation similar to one you would offer a new full-time employee. Introduce the person to the rest of your staff and make sure he or she has all the tools and information needed to get right to work. Keep in mind that even if you have engaged the individual on an interim basis, the person may work at your firm for an extended period or, if the arrangement is a good all-around fit, you may end up hiring the individual on a full-time basis.
  • Designate a ‘buddy.’ Ask one of your staff members to be the newcomer’s point person if questions or problems arise and you’re unavailable. The point person also can explain company policies and procedures and help ensure the interim professional gets off to the best possible start.
  • Promote collaboration. Include the project professional in team meetings, staff lunches, workplace celebrations and other activities and encourage your staff to view him or her as an integral part of the team. This will help the individual feel more connected to your firm. Also, if you are considering a temp-to-hire arrangement, it will help you evaluate cultural fit.
  • Monitor and evaluate. Check in periodically with temporary employees to make sure they have the resources they need to perform their jobs. Also ask your staff about whether the arrangement is working as envisioned. Even if the individual has strong skills, it could be that he or she may not be the best fit with your team. If this is the case, inform the staffing company with whom you’re working. The firm should be willing to find a more suitable replacement.

Whether you seek to add staff on a temporary, full-time or temp-to-hire basis, consider using a staffing firm that specializes in the accounting field. These firms can provide talented professionals at every skill level and with a range of expertise to match your specific needs.

Accountemps is the world’s first and largest temporary staffing service specializing in the placement of accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The company has more than 360 offices throughout North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com.