When facing short-term staffing challenges, supplement your needs with temps, contractors or consultants. To be successful, be clear on the purpose and staff accordingly.

I find that almost every one of my clients and prospective clients are growing significantly. One complication of growth is to find, upgrade and keep your people. One way to supplement your resources short-term is to hire temps, contractors and consultants.

Each has a different purpose. Temps typically fill in for manufacturing and distribution resource gaps. For example, if you need assemblers for your operation or machine operators, temps can be a great solution. Contractors and consultants can often be confused; however, I see contractors as highly skilled resources that typically assist with specific tasks such as programming whereas consultants typically are looking at broad topics and providing recommendations for improvement. Contractors are more likely to fill in for missing positions or specific projects. As a consultant, I find that I typically provide design expertise for strategy, organizations, processes and systems and often fill the advisory and mentor role in implementing the designs. To learn more about how to hire consultants, read our comprehensive guide for CEOs and Executives.

Many of my clients use temps to fill short-term resource needs to cover spikes in demand, to cover dramatic swings of seasonality, and to support growth early in the cycle. The issue is that it is never as simple as it seems it should be. Certainly, hiring a temp is a great way to test out resources for full-time jobs. It is also a good way to find people with the required prerequisites intact rapidly; however, it doesn’t mean that training can be skipped. Ideally your temp agency is screening candidates to speed up the process and potentially is providing some level of training; however, some sort of training will be required on-the-job. Don’t forget to account for this need.

Temps should not be viewed as long-term resources. They have no loyalty by definition as they fill in for gaps at various companies. You also are not typically providing the same level of training and support to temps vs. full-time resources. Therefore, if you expect to keep temps long-term, you’ll want to transition them into full-time employees for optimal results. That way, efficiencies and quality will be built into the process.

Conceptually, the same holds true with contractors. They fill short-term gaps and can be a valuable way to test out potential employees if growth dictates the need for additional long-term assistance. With consultants, occasionally I’ve filled responsibilities for a role temporarily; however, never full-time. If full-time is required, hire a contractor interested in transitioning into a full-time employee. Typically consultants design improvements with specific objectives, measures and value for the organization, support the implementation from an advisory/ mentoring standpoint and move to the next project/ objective. This can be invaluable in shoring up talent rapidly without having to hire it upfront.