Temporary labour is an essential crutch for many manufacturing businesses that experience regular staff sickness, variable productivity or seasonal demand. So how can you bring inexperienced employees up to speed with best practice as efficiently as possible? Managing Director of MESTEC, Jeremy Harford, believes that using IT to measure and implement manufacturing workflows is key to improving labour performance.
he UK has the highest number of temporary workers in Europe – 1.3 million (5%) according to figures from the International Confederation of Private Employment Agencies (CIETT ) . Temporary employees are a fundamental part of many business strategies, providing ready, quick support for production in the event of a depleted permanent workforce or spikes in production. However, many manufacturers struggle to bring their temporary labour up to best practice standards, impacting efficiency, productivity and cost of production.
The problem with temporary labour
Manufacturers bring in temporary labour to support their operations during busy seasons, particularly to meet peak demand, for example at Christmas time, and especially in the food and consumables industries. Financially, temporary workers should provide a more cost-effective solution to managing variable workflows than having under-utilised permanent staff on the books all year round. But temporary staff can lead to unnecessary delays and variable quality and productivity issues, which if not managed carefully can cancel out the benefits. The most common issues employers face from using temporary labour are:
- By hourly rate, they are more expensive than permanent staff
- They lack experience and training
- They are less productive on the factory floor
- Wasted time of permanent staff due to training temporary staff
- Wasted time of supervisors and management overseeing temporary staff
- Without the right steps in place, the net effect of taking on temporary staff can be variable product quality/cost and production times.
How to bring your temporary staff up to best-practice standards
More experience is generally associated with higher productivity, and over time, permanent staff acquire the skills and knowledge of your manufacturing production process that help them to be productive and effective workers. In an ideal world, your temporary staff would instantly be able to perform at the same, best-practice levels as your permanent staff.
While it’s difficult to close the skills gap completely, you can ensure that your temporary staff are given as much support as possible to follow best practice and measure their performance to create a feedback cycle.
One way to accelerate this process is through the use of digital workflow support. Information and communication technology (ICT) provides firms with more efficient and innovative ways to communicate, and research indicates that firms with higher levels of ICT maturity tend to experience better productivity. In fact, over recent years UK manufacturing firms that have high ICT maturity have enjoyed astonishing productivity growth of over 11% per annum. 
MESTEC’s technology allows you to define best practice workflows, and provides temporary staff with visual, step-by-step ‘how to’ guides to use on the job. These guides can be tailored towards levels of proficiency and experience. MESTEC deskills the process by giving operators the same step-by-step instructions on the screen for tasks performed by knowledgeable operators.
We can also measure the performance of temporary labourers, making it very easy for you to spot and address any problems in real time. Our analytics enable you to retrospectively analyse performance of your temporary staff, comparing it against your permanent team members, and thus evaluate the cost benefits of hiring temporary staff.
Easy to use, fast to deploy
Our solution makes it easy for supervisors to define and roll out your best-practice workflows. With our technology you can easily provide your temporary operators with step-by-step guides, helping to reduce errors and standardising product quality and cost of production.
Furthermore, our interactive screens are context sensitive – you can configure them to provide operators with information tailored to their specific role, level of expertise, the product they are working on, and the specific process step. The system reviews the skill profile/experience and determines how much guidance operators actually need.
Benefits of using MESTEC’s solution:
- Reduces time taken to up-skill temporary labour
- Easy to implement best practice across the board
- Improves overall productivity of staff
- Frees up management time from overseeing staff
- Reduces variability in product quality and cost of production
Bolster cost of production by streamlining your temporary and permanent workforces
Our labour-supportive technology helps you to bring temporary staff up to expected best practice standards quickly, improving product quality, cost of production and profitability.
Without accurate technology to measure performance and identify process errors, manufacturers often find that they are not getting the most out of their temporary labour. Our systems help staff to follow best practice procedures, whilst measuring the production times to provide you with visibility of performance. With MESTEC’s technology you can start to close the skills gap between your temporary staff and your permanent staff.
If you’d like to discuss how we can help your temporary staff get up to speed to match the skill levels of your permanent staff, contact us today.