In today’s tight labor market, some organizations are faced with finding temporary solutions to fill key roles until long-term solutions are in place. Employers are turning to existing employees to assist by filling in on a temporary basis until the employer has filled the position.
While this can be a successful temporary solution, employers should be cautious that the employee who is helping temporarily has a clear understanding of the arrangement and does not become discouraged or feel unappreciated if he or she is not selected to fill the position on a long-term basis. Employers can avoid confusion and help ensure a successful outcome by considering these few tips:
- Openly communicate with the employee who has been selected to temporarily help in the position before placing the individual in the role; identify responsibilities and duties assigned.
- Be clear about the process you intend to follow to select candidates, clarify whether the employee is interested in the position long term, and share whether you will be considering other internal and/or external candidates.
- Let the employee know you value all contributions to the organization, regardless of whether he or she remains in the current role or expresses interest in applying for the open position.
- Determine if the employee will receive additional compensation through a bonus or temporary rate increase for the duration of the interim assignment.
- If the employee is temporarily helping in a role that is a different FLSA status than the employee typically holds (i.e., a nonexempt employee assisting in an exempt level role or an exempt employee assisting in a nonexempt role) be especially mindful of the duration of the temporary assignment. If an exempt employee is performing too many nonexempt duties, his or her classification as an exempt employee may be at risk.
- Establish a projected timeframe to fill the position and communicate regularly with the employee regarding any adjustments in the timeframe.
- Communicate with all employees in the organization to minimize disruption while the interim employee is assisting in the role, and be clear about the company’s recruitment and selection process for the long term.
Employers are encouraged to document details of the temporary assignment in writing (a sample Interim Job Assignment Letter to Employee is available on MRA’s website). By setting clear expectations at the onset of the temporary replacement and continuing to keep the lines of communication open throughout the selection process, employers can successfully retain the employee who was willing to assist and better prepare the entire team for the long-term solution.