Whether or not temporary workers are a benefit or a hinderance to an organization depends on how senior leadership chooses to employ them.
First, we have to recognize that certain sectors have large fluctuations in work load——isn’t HR Block the single largest employer of temporary workers each tax season——that flexing headcount is unavoidable.
Second, let’s recognize the dynamics by which exceptional performance altitude is achieved. It depends on having a steep ‘climb rate’ fueled by broad based, non-stop, high speed learning.
It is in the learning that the link to positive or negative use of temporary workers comes in.
Learning depends on seeing problems in approaches being taken in order to trigger solving problems, with the solutions that result being sustained locally and spread systemically.
Seeing problems depends on having some ‘standard,’ specified, expected normal against which the actual can be compared to detect surprising aberration.
How do temps fit in?
On the one hand, they are a forcing function for an organization to cycle through see, solve, sustain and spread so that when the temps arrive, they have work routines which make right easy and wrong hard. They can also be early detectors of problems——their difficulties signs that something can be improved to change the ratio of value generated to effort exerted.
Of course, an organization not committing to the learning dynamic of seeing and solving problems will either be unable to scale because of the poor preparation it has made in terms of making right easy or it will be a place of constant frustration because of the resolvable impediments that have yet to be addressed.