Temporary or agency employees are a vital resource for management in the construction industry. They are used to meet a short-term need for labour, generally of a specific skill group, without the need to keep many individuals on the company’s books. Although the cost may be more expensive as a per-hour rate, if you take account of employee tax, pension/superannuation payments, management time and HR for each full time employee, using agency employees becomes a very attractive option.One potential pitfall is for a management gap to occur – who is responsible for the employee’s development and growth? The agency who employees the individual or the company where they are deployed? To get the most out of the agency staff they need to be managed on a daily basis, and this is best done at the place of work. Below are the key areas which need to be addressed. One individual needs to be responsible for managing all agency employees and this should be built into their job description – this is to maximise the value from agency employees. Management need to accept that there is some cost in time and resources when using agency employees.Preparation Before agency employees are brought in, ensure that you have the right equipment for them to do their job properly. Someone commencing work as a site cleaner may require cleaning fluids, cloths, mop & bucket, broom, dustpan & brush and protective gloves. If you do not provide the right equipment it will give a negative impression of the standard of work expected from them and may prevent them from completing their tasks. Create a structure for each day regardless of how frequent agency employees are used. It is important to document the structure of the day. This will help them feel comfortable, know what is expected of them and give them an opportunity to raise any issues they may have (health and safety, skills etc).Create a structure that defines activity to be carried out in the morning, lunchtime activity and pre-finishing. You can include meetings with them in the morning or after lunch to check on progress.For example: 7.00: Open entrance gates, open equipment store rooms, 7.15: Meet with supervisor, 13:00 – Ensure all food waste is removed from lunch room, 16.30: Close gates, close store roomSet time-frames for workA simple and effective management tool – setting time-frames clarifies expectations for both sides and can be used to discuss any issues if the time-frame is not met. Even if there is no urgency over a task being completed, ask for “this to be done by the end of today” and it probably will be.Explain why something needs to be doneGiving some background into the task that you want done will help the agency employee to frame their work in a bigger context, improve their understanding and drive their motivation. If they are cleaning, explain how keeping the site clean is important in reducing accidents or damage to equipment and finished work.Assume they don’t know what to do until they show they have the skillsAsk most men if they know how to use a angle-grinder or a jackhammer and they nearly always say “Yes” – especially on a building site! When dealing with new agency staff or giving a new task to existing ones, work with them and show them what to do the first time. Check they are happy and reduce the risk of mistakes and accidents.Use different styles of management for different peopleThis is one of the toughest things to get right with full time employees and a nightmare with temporary staff. How do you know if someone works best with regular supervision or by being given a task and allowed to use their initiative to complete it?My suggestion is to start cautiously – frequently check on progress and have several, short discussion with them each day. At the end of each day, check if they feel the level of supervision is OK and work with them to find the right balance. Ask them questions about what they have done. Years ago, sales people realised that using open questions gets more information out of customers than closed (yes/no response) questions. When speaking to agency employees, use the same tactic to open communication channels and get honest feedback. Try “How did you do today?” or “Can you talk me through what tasks you did today”Provide feedback – especially positiveManagement is a 2 way street and people need to feel they are getting something back for the work they have done. Yes, they are getting paid, but money is not a key motivator for most people. Job satisfaction and feeling that you contributed towards a goal are much more important. Make sure that agency staff are told when they have done a good job – it is often the last thing on a busy managers mind so make it part of the daily structure to say thank you.In summary, spend as much time and effort managing agency employees as you do on full time employees and you will be rewarded with motivated, engaged people who contribute to your business.