5 Onboarding Mistakes Staffing Agencies Make with New Hires

Acknowledging and consciously avoiding onboarding mistakes is the key to giving temporary employees the confidence to succeed in their new roles.


Employee onboarding for staffing agencies is a complex process. A defect in one of the many moving parts involved could create an unpleasant experience for the new temporary worker and the client company. And no staffing agency wants to be associated with dissatisfied clients and high employee turnover.

In many cases, a poor onboarding process can arise from a series of common mistakes on behalf of staffing agencies. Acknowledging and consciously avoiding these mistakes holds the key to giving temporary employees the confidence to succeed in their new roles.

1. Delaying onboarding until the new hire’s first day.

Staffing agencies often wait to start onboarding until the temporary employee starts work. This leaves the employee overwhelmed with information and struggling to keep it all straight. As if starting a new job weren’t nerve-racking enough, leaving the employee feeling confused and unprepared significantly amplifies their anxiety. Consequently, the employee may simply decide to leave altogether just to avoid an unnecessarily uncomfortable experience.

According to a 2009 survey, 83 percent of the highest-performing organizations begin their onboarding processes well before new hires first sit down at their desks. In the weeks leading up to a temporary employee’s first day, you could start the onboarding process by allowing the new hire to register for benefits and set up accounts on company platforms online. Next, you could distribute practical information such as dress code, expected work hours, organizational chart, etc. As the new hire’s first day nears, an agency member could check in with a quick phone call to ensure the new employee has no further questions or concerns about the job.

In addition to preventing new hires from viewing the agency as disorganized, beginning the onboarding process early enables temporary employees to familiarize themselves with the agency over the course of several weeks. Rather than forcing new hires to adapt to a new environment instantly, you’ll give them plenty of time to calm their nerves as the information slowly sinks in.

2. Not giving new hires one-on-one time with their managers.

In today’s hybrid or remote work world, it’s easy to forget about the value of face-to-face interactions. With this in mind, onboarding processes tend to omit one-on-one meetings between temporary employees and their on-site managers. Onboarding processes are supposed to build connections between temporary employees and their new companies, but how connected can employees feel when their managers’ personalities are a complete mystery?

Specific critical details can only be provided by the temporary employee’s manager. For example, the manager might have a unique management style, which could be a component of a distinct company culture. New employees must establish a rapport with their managers, as the manager becomes the face the employee associates with the business. On a practical level, it’s also helpful for employees to understand chains of command: For instance, if the manager is unavailable, who should the temporary employee contact for work-related questions?

These meetings also will give managers the chance to clearly communicate their expectations to temporary employees, particularly regarding how the new hire will be contributing to the company’s short- and long-term goals.

3. Neglecting to provide a New Employee Checklist.

One of the most stressful aspects of starting a new job is the massive amount of new information involved. Unfortunately, staffing agencies regularly make the mistake of disseminating this barrage of information in a highly disorganized and confusing manner. As a result, the temporary employee immediately becomes overwhelmed and struggles to process even the most basic instructions.

You can avoid this common scenario by creating a “New Employee Checklist.” This resource should include answers to important questions such as where temporary employees should park, how to apply for paid time off (PTO), and which tools or apps employees will need to do their jobs. New hires then will have a single, easily digestible resource they can reference for common questions, rather than continuously contacting the agency for information and taking precious time away from their work.

4. Using error-prone employee management systems.

Once a temporary employee begins a new job, the staffing agency must acquaint the new staffer with the company’s systems for time and attendance tracking, payroll integration, and general HR management. Far too many agencies utilize separate systems for each of these tasks, which increases the likelihood of delayed or incorrect payments. In today’s ultra-competitive staffing landscape, temporary employees are not obligated to remain loyal to error-prone agencies, especially when it comes to something as important as compensation.

Thankfully, agencies can eliminate payroll errors by implementing specialized software that automates time and attendance tracking into payroll. These programs provide an all-in-one arrangement that enables agencies to manage time tracking, invoicing, and payroll in a single platform.

Staffing agency software makes employees’ lives easier, as well. In many cases, all they have to do is download an app on their smartphones, through which they can easily check in and out of their assignments. There’s no need for them to submit a timesheet, an invoice, or any other document that could get lost in an agency’s e-mail inbox. Plus the software helps both agencies and their employees keep track of different pay rates for different clients, or even for different roles within the same client.

5. Not connecting them with a fellow employee.

A major obstacle to the success of an onboarding process is the loneliness that comes with temporary employment. New hires might be hesitant to form relationships with other staff members at their new companies since temporary positions tend to last only three to six months. It’s difficult for anyone to settle into a new role and perform to the best of their ability when they feel isolated.

Consider introducing new hires to other temporary employees from your agency during the onboarding process. This new ally can introduce the employee to other colleagues, provide an outlet for much-needed socialization, and offer additional information, such as the best lunch spots in the area. Even if the new hire is working from home, another temporary employee at the same company can still provide tips for simplifying certain tasks or gaining their manager’s trust.

Poor Onboarding = Poor Experience

Staffing agencies that devote considerable effort to their onboarding processes ultimately show temporary employees that they care about the success of new hires. It’s up to you to secure your employees’ loyalty by proving you don’t expect them to figure out their new roles on their own. Put simply, if you value your agency’s reputation, you will continuously prioritize the onboarding process and facilitate a positive experience for all parties involved.

Adam Day
Adam Day is the President & CEO at Tamarack, a time & attendance, payroll integration, and HR software provider for the staffing industry.