For various good reasons, the pressure to define business values has grown immensely in recent years. For one, there’s the rising prominence of social media appraisal, with people always looking to judge the worthiness of companies and focus their support on brands that share their values. For another, there’s the developing awareness that having clear values is extremely important for company cohesion.
When companies define their values, though, they can do so in a core-team-only sort of way. And that makes some sense, surely: it’s ultimately about long-term investment in the brand, so all the effort should go towards getting the most valuable and loyal employees on board.
But that doesn’t mean that you should treat your temporary employees as detached assets, sending them workloads but otherwise avoiding them. They might not need to know as much about your business as your full-time workers, but they do need to understand your business values. Here’s why:
They’ll probably talk about you after leaving. After they’ve wrapped up a short-term stint under your employ, your temps will go elsewhere, and as they do so, they take their experiences with them, ready to pass on both the benefits and the details.
Suppose you that you bring someone in for a few months and treat them with coldness and rigid professionalism. You ensure that they get paid on time, provide them with all the necessary resources, and never ask too much of them — but you’re boring. You never give them an idea of what you care about or why. So when they go elsewhere, while they may not say bad things about your company, they won’t really stand up for it when it’s a topic of conversation.
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Now consider a different scenario: You welcome your temporary employee like a full member of the team. You bring them into a virtual meeting so they can get to know everyone. You explain how the business started and what it aims to achieve. You show that you care about their growth by doing things like suggesting development paths for their future, sharing productivity podcasts, and offering varied training sessions.
When you do this, you make it clear that it isn’t only about helping you, and you don’t expect anything in return — aside, perhaps, from showing that your brand genuinely looks after its employees, regardless of their status. This will seriously aid your recruitment efforts.
They might end up joining you permanently. Someone hired on a temporary basis can impress to the extent that they warrant being offered a permanent position, turning a six-week contract into a six-year contribution. And if someone does well in their temporary role, they might be a great choice when a permanent position comes up down the line.
Regardless of how it happens, everyone who works for you (however briefly) might well end up becoming a long-serving employee. By explaining your business values to every employee, then, you can make the best prospects more likely to want to either continue working for you or return to your business at a later date.
A brief contribution can make a big difference. Lastly, but very significantly, even someone who works for you for a very brief period can really leave their mark on the business. This is most likely in the social media world we looked at in the introduction, because it’s hard to pass up social media (it’s extremely important for small businesses). One errant comment from an employee — even a temporary employee — can cause serious damage to their employer’s reputation.
If someone on your team says something inflammatory on Twitter, for instance, you can fire them immediately and let everyone know you’ve taken action, but people will still have doubts about you. They’ll wonder if there’s something wrong with your business — after all, you hired that person, so you must share their views and tone.
This might sound overly dramatic, but it really doesn’t take much to be inflammatory these days. Even expressing the socially-acceptable opinion on something but getting the phrasing wrong can lead to a massive backlash. When you coach every new hire — however brief — through your business values and the brand guidelines that go with them, you lower the risk.