For as long as I can remember it has been common in the warehouse and distribution business to use temporary workers to fill gaps and handle seasonal spikes in volume. It is a great way to get workers into your operation quickly without the long process of recruiting, screening, interviewing, hiring, etc.

Often you may have many temporary workers start on the same day, which puts a strain on your supervisors, department leaders, and trainers. How do they effectively train a group of new workers so they are productive as quickly as possible? Few things irritate an Operations Manager like the site of new workers standing around waiting to be shown what to do. Similarly, how do you ensure the new temp workers are all trained on your plant’s safety procedures and policies? It takes time. Time for someone to explain the job, the terminology used, the parts they will handle, tools they will use and how it all works together. For safety, someone must provide safety orientation and review all your company’s policies.

The employees you task with training the temps are usually your more experienced people like supervisors, leads or trainers. They are also some of your highest paid employees which makes the temp worker training very expensive because you are paying the temp while training AND your supervisor but neither of them are actually producing any work.

But what if you could reduce this cost, reduce the time your supervisors spent training temporary workers. Imagine if your temporary workers showed up the first day ready to work because they already had the required orientation and training. How much time and money would it save if they began working 2-4 hours sooner?

Well, it is possible by utilizing e-learning in advance of their first day. I have found that temp agencies are willing to help train the workers they provide to you in advance of their first day as long as you provide the training material. This is where e-learning fits perfectly and here is how many companies use it to their advantage.

✓ Ten temporary workers are needed for a light assembly operation.

✓ The company provides the temp service access to the web based e-learning courses specific to the assembly job.

✓ They also have the mandatory safety orientation program online.

✓ The temp agency brings in the 10 workers to their office the day before you need them to start.

✓ They use online training courses to learn about what they will be doing, what the process is, what tools will be used and how to assemble the parts. There is even an interactive activity they must perform on the computer to confirm they understand the process.

✓ The safety orientation is also online that explains all the policies required and a quiz at the end to confirm they understand the policies and procedures.

✓ Some take it a step further and include a short informational course on the company; it’s mission, commitment to quality and potential opportunities for those who excel in the work.

✓ The temp agency ensures all 10 workers complete the courses and when they arrive to work there is a brief orientation and they are ready to go.

✓ If any of the workers are unable to pass the basic training or fail to understand the safety guidelines then the agency can source an alternate candidate before sending them to you.

The temp agency will require you to pay for the training time but you would pay for it anyway at your plant. More importantly, what you are not paying for is the supervisor, lead or trainer’s time to conduct training classes. Plus your supervisor is productively working while the temps are training at the agency office, which makes the savings even greater. Since the temp workers had to pass a quiz to confirm they understood the job and safety requirements you will be assured of a worker with a higher chance of success and less likely to be sent home after the first day.

If you are a good customer to your temp agency then they should be willing to discuss training your temporary workers in advance. It costs them very little because you are paying for the training time plus it gives them an edge over other agencies and deepens the partnership with you.

Advance training using e-learning is becoming a more common practice for large temporary users and provides benefits to both the agency and the employer.

If you would like more information on how to start an e-learning program that you can use with your temp agency, contact us at

Ted Stoecker

Ted Stoecker

Ted is an executive level leader in distribution, logistics and warehousing with over 30 years managing multi-site operations with over 2000 team members in 32 locations. He has installed a WMS and LMS (labor management system) for a $5 billion manufacturer/distributor and has improved all KPI’s through the use of enhanced learning and training programs. Ted was an early adopter of an e-learning system that helped train his team members on all aspects of warehouse functions including safety, quality, productivity, private fleet operations and regulatory compliance. He has over 8 years of experience with an LMS (Learning Management System) and has achieved consistent, positive results with customized training designed specifically for his team and his organization.