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Employers should treat agency staff like employees

REC chief executive Kevin Green said some employers are already adopting this approach

Employers should promote workplace engagement among temporary agency staff by applying the same approach they use with permanent employees, according to an Involvement and Participation Association (IPA) report.

Tune in to temps: how employers and recruiters can support agency worker voice in the workplace was produced in partnership with the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC). It recommends employers ensure agency workers receive a proper induction, foster relationships with agency workers by giving regular feedback, make sure they are treated as part of the team when on assignment, and give them informal benefits such as inclusion in staff activities and social events.

The report cites 2014 REC research (Flex Appeal) that found 43% of agency workers had chosen such a role because they could not find permanent work. Therefore offering agency workers similar perks and working environments as those with permanent positions could be appealing.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said some employers are already adopting this approach. “There is a lot of great work being done by employers and recruiters to ensure that people who choose to work flexibly still benefit from having positive, enjoyable and personally fulfilling experiences at work,” he said.

“It’s about treating people with respect and extending the same approach managers would take with permanent staff in terms of giving inductions, providing feedback, and making sure temps feel welcome and included. Good recruiters will invest in their workers and see strong employee engagement as a way to build their brand and differentiate themselves in a competitive market.”

Head of policy and research at the IPA, Patrick Brione added that employers should treat their agency workers better. “Too often in the past regarded as 'second class' members of the workforce, agency workers and their hirers have sometimes missed out on the benefits of a highly engaged workforce," he said. "This report shows why this does not have to be the case. This paper includes practical lessons for employment agencies and host workplaces to consider when looking at how to get the very best out of their agency workers; understanding that small actions can make a big difference.”

The recommendations coincide with the publication of RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor's review of modern working practices. Among other recommendations, the Taylor Review calls for agency workers to have the right to request a direct employment contract when they have been engaged with the same hirer for 12 months. It also recommends legislation to make it easier for all working people to receive basic details about their employment relationship.