When your small business gets busy, you sometimes need extra hands. But hiring a new employee (or employees) isn’t always the answer. If you don’t expect to need extra help for the long term, or if you want to take a trial run before hiring someone permanently, temporary workers can be the perfect solution.

Photo software company Collage.com sees a huge surge in sales during the first half of December each year, as people start shopping for unique holiday gifts. Around that time, the company needs to triple the size of its customer satisfaction team to handle the rush, says Co-founder Joe Golden. To meet the challenge, Collage.com hires a temporary seasonal workforce every holiday season.

Temporary staffers can be ideal for ramping up during busy seasons or working on special projects. But, if you don’t manage the process correctly, that lifesaving temp labor can become a nightmare.

When you hire temporary workers, consider avoiding these common mistakes:

1. Spending Too Much Time on the Hiring Process

Hiring your own temps can take a lot of time away from other tasks, and because the workers will only be with your company for a short time, you may have to go through the process over and over again. If your business isn’t set up to easily handle background checks and other hiring necessities, you might consider using an employment agency. The agency will screen the workers and ensure that they have the credentials and experience they claim to have.

Because Collage.com faces the same challenge each year, leaders have developed the expertise and honed the processes to hire a temporary seasonal workforce, Golden says. “This saves us money, better meets our needs as a company and ensures higher quality results than we could get with a staffing agency or outsourced call center.

2. Not Making Job Expectations Clear From the Beginning

Temp workers can provide great value if they know what to do, but they could waste a lot of time (on your dime) if they haven’t received clear instructions from the beginning.

Make sure temps know what time they need to be at work, how long they have for lunch, whether cell phones are allowed, and other expectations, says Esti Chazanow, co-founder of LIV Swiss Watches in Miami. “Setting up expectations right away will make for less awkward conversations later,” she says.

If possible, put in writing the tasks and outcomes you’re expecting from each temp. That way, they can refer to it as needed during the work day. Because Collage.com needs temps every year, it has created training and mentorship programs for seasonal workers to get them up to speed so they can hit the ground running.

3. Forgetting That Temp Positions Must Adhere to Labor Laws

As a business owner, you’re required to follow the labor laws that apply in your state, regardless of whether your employees are full-time or temporary. For instance, according to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, you’ll have to pay overtime for temps who work more than 40 hours per week.

“Rules vary by state and city, so it is very important to make sure you understand and comply with all relevant labor regulations,” Golden says. “Collage.com is a 100 percent remote company, but in order to simplify hiring and regulatory compliance, we hire our entire temporary seasonal workforce from our home state of Michigan.”

To learn more about your state’s labor laws, visit the Employment Law Handbook or the U.S. Department of Labor.

4. Not Making Temp Workers Feel Valued

Even though temps will only be with your company for a short time, they’ll do better work if they feel valued. Chazanow recommends allowing temps to bill you for their hours on a weekly basis or as regularly as they request. “This creates a sense of trust and ownership and makes the workers feel valued,” she says.

Rather than expecting a temporary employee to work in isolation, try to make them feel part of the team. That means involving them in all-staff meetings and team celebrations. Make sure to apply the same rules to both full-time and temp employees. That way, you can make them feel like part of the team and they’ll be willing to come back when you need them again and do a good job while they’re on site.

“Make the temp workers feel like they are part of the business and not just temp workers,” Chazanow says. “Invite them in for parts of meetings, acknowledge their contribution, and you’ll see that they will perform even better.”

5. Allowing Too Much Access

It’s a good idea to make temporary employees part of the team, but not every team member should have the same privileges. For instance, it’s probably not a good idea to allow a temporary employee access to your business credit card or other perks that could result in difficult financial situations.

Instead, reserve sensitive information and tasks for your most trusted employees. The best temps are ready to work and want to please their employers, but they generally won’t have the same sense of responsibility and level of loyalty to your company as a longtime, full-time employee.

6. Not Considering Future Needs

Your temporary workers may not need all the same responsibilities and perks you offer full-time employees right now, but they could certainly become full-time employees in the future. Rather than viewing all temps as strictly temporary, work to build relationships with them and get to know their work styles. You never know when you may need to refer to your network of temp relationships to fill a full-time position.

At Collage.com, “we view our temporary seasonal team as our primary recruiting pool,” Golden says. “If someone does an excellent job, we want to hire them again next season or have them join us full time.”

By avoiding these common pitfalls, you can successfully expand your team as needed, building relationships with temporary workers who can help shoulder the workload and contribute to building your business, a little at a time.

Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.