How to make temps work

By Mike Burke President, Industrial Employment Services

Our economy has been anything but stable lately. Cost cutting has been a common strategy to deal with this uncertainty. Once overhead and inventories are cut, labor remains a major expense area. But in these times of shrinking margins and rapid response, labor is both crucial and detrimental to your business's profits. If it's there when needed, orders get processed quickly. When it's there without orders, it eats up cash flow like Superman -- faster than a speeding bullet.

You can plan your inventory supply with vendors as tuned in to on-time delivery as you are to on-time shipping. Knowing which vendors can keep at your pace is one aspect of a multifaceted solution. The same holds true with labor. Any business needs a base level of personnel on hand to take care of a base level of consistent business. But how does management respond to the sudden ups, so necessary to succeed?

Some use temps. If you need assemblers, an agency can provide experienced assemblers. If you need lift truck operators, an agency can make sure the people it provides are certified. If you need machine operators, an agency can ensure that you get skilled ones.

An temp agency performs other important functions, as well:

--It agrees in writing to assume full responsibility for paying, withholding and transmitting payroll taxes;

--It makes unemployment contributions and handles unemployment and workers' compensation claims;

--It will be registered with its state's division of Occupational Safety (Employment Agencies Program), making it easy to check its legitimacy.

After calling the Division of Occupational Safety to check up on some agencies, then talk to those that pass muster. If they listen, if they ask the right questions, if they are available 24/7 to help you solve your labor problems, then you're on the right track.

Mike Burke is president of Industrial Employment Services, Rockland, Mass. IES specializes in providing temporary employment with individuals who are familiar with industrial, agricultural and administrative assistance. Visit IES online at

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