An equally important question for managers everywhere this holiday season is: So are you gonna invite the temps to participate in the company's holiday festivities, or not? How, exactly, will you fold your contingent workforce into the company's holiday batter?
If you follow business news, then you've noted the steady rise in temporary and contract positions in recent years. From contractors to "seasonal workers" (read: temps) to part-timers to third-party temps delivered to companies whether rain, wind, sleet and snow to work for one day or 100 days, temps are everywhere, wandering silently among us, perhaps barely getting by, and just waiting for someone at work to get their names right for once.
The underlying "haves vs. have nots" tension between full-time employees and temporary employees can feel even more pronounced amid the season of giving. Simply put, nothing -- NOTHING! -- says "You don't fit in here and never will, you temporary, nameless being" than watching a company's year-round, full-time employees and interns -- interns! -- sit around as a group noshing on delicious cookies and cakes in the break room, dishing up at the office potluck, pretending to be surprised by their Secret Santas, and, in general, finding a bit of merriment-making amid the spreadsheet mistakes while you, the nameless temp, lurk in the background and get...nada? Good day, you get nothing, you lose!
Alas, The Temp Formerly Known As Hey You wasn't invited to the department or company's holiday festivities because, well, why would the department or company invite her? She's just a temp who is only here for a few days, weeks, or months. It's not like she's a real person or an intern or anything. Um, what's her name again?
Past surveys have revealed that temporary workers are at very high risk of suffering a deep depression, and we all know that the holidays can be a vaguely distressing time for a wide variety of reasons. Employers should definitely include the company's contractors, seasonal workers and third-party temps in holiday festivities. Let them partake of the cookies, the parties, and the general merriment. It's simply the nice thing to do, and it's also good business.
Why is it good business? Well, smart employers know that The Temp Formerly Known As Hey You morphs right back into a consumer when he or she isn't temping. A temporary worker will always -- ALWAYS! -- remember how your company treated him or her, forever and ever. At some point in the future, this temp will shed the shackles of perma-temping for a stable, full-time position again, therefore immediately giving him more disposable income to burn, and is he going to buy from your company? No way. Why not? For starters, because you didn't invite him to the break room holiday potluck all those years ago, he wasn't offered a few cookies from a co-worker's cookie tin, he had no health or retirement benefits, and you never even bothered to learn his name, that's why!
On the other hand, perhaps you've employed temps who see no problem at all in inviting themselves to pig out on all the cookies in the break room like they've worked at the company for years instead of a mere two days. Surely, there are rude, gluttonous temps as well, but that's a Christmas future blog post.
Here in the Christmas present, we need to start folding temporary workers into the holiday batter. Luckily, it isn't very hard. Simply say, "Hey You, put down that invoice and come into the break room for some potluck food! We'd love to have you join us!" It doesn't matter if the temp has been at your work site for one day or 100 days; just do it.
It'll be good for morale, branding, and the company's long-term bottom line as the temp tells two friends, who tell two friends, who someday tell two friends how awesome you workplace was all those years ago. Plus, it'll be a great opportunity for everyone in the office to finally learn the temp's name.
With some practice, you could manage to find a permanent solution to your workplace's temporary holiday problem.