A company is only as good as its employees, a statement that applies to the top executives through to the people in the mailroom.
“Because employees are vital to business, employers need the right staffing services to make sure the right people are on board. It is not a decision to be made quickly,” says Jennifer Coon-Leeper, CSP, a major accounts manager for Ashton Staffing, Inc.
A good rule of thumb, she says, is not to wait until your staffing needs are urgent to check out available agencies.
Smart Business spoke with Coon-Leeper about how to select the best staffing agency for your needs.
What steps should employers take to choose the right staffing firm?
There is a staffing firm capable of filling any position. It can provide flexible staffing for temporary, temp-to-hire or direct hire positions. Some services provide high-level executives, some specialize in a certain skill sets such as graphic designers and computer programmers, and some concentrate on specific industries.
Whatever your staffing needs, there are a few things to consider when shopping around for the right agency. For example, the firm’s ability to fill the job, how it qualifies candidates and what it charges for its services.
After you determine the title, pay rate, hours and assignment duration of the position you need to fill, the search for a staffing firm can begin to be narrowed.
Instead of picking at random, try choosing a firm dedicated to the same industry. If an employer is looking for a forklift driver, choosing a staffing firm that specializes in industrial placements is an excellent way to quickly tap into a pool of qualified candidates.
The search will require making a few phone calls as all firms are different and one size definitely does not fit all. Employers need to feel comfortable with the person staffing their order. A qualified staffing representative should be able to answer every question quickly and efficiently while delivering top-notch customer service. First impressions are everything so don’t be afraid to keep shopping around.
What should an employer know about a staffing agency’s process for placing candidates?
When searching for a staffing firm it’s important to know how the agency qualifies candidates. Each staffing agency is different so it’s key to know what has been done with a candidate before you are presented with one.
Depending on the position and length of assignment, most candidates should come with a background and reference check and drug screen. Once they’ve been placed, the agency should run an E-Verify check. Employers should make sure they’re aware of the type of background checks being run and what type of drug screen is used as some staffing agencies won’t run some checks unless requested, especially for short-term assignments.
Candidates also can have pre-employment testing conducted to determine software skills, personality, dexterity and basic math skills. Many staffing agencies can even certify someone on a forklift if the employer asks. Just remember, like buying a car, any upgrades to the base package are more expensive. It’s important that employers discuss costs up front with their staffing representative.
How can employers be sure to get the best candidates from a staffing firm?
Get to know your staffing agency and ask lots of questions. Each staffing firm is different as is each staffing representative. Some will spend time narrowing down candidates to find the perfect fit. Others will throw every qualified resume at the employer hoping one will stick. Most businesses prefer quality over quantity, depending on the position to be filled, although some prefer lots of options. Talk to the staffing firm and make sure the selection process works for your company.
What should an employer expect as far as service from its staffing firm?
At the very least an employer should expect excellent customer service and follow up from a staffing firm, no matter what position is being filled.
For example, an employer may call in looking for an administrative assistant with 10 years of experience and excellent computer skills, but cap the pay rate at $12 per hour. Part of the job of a staffing firm is to inform the employer that the average $12 an hour administrative assistant today has no more than two years experience and limited capabilities.
It is up to the staffing firm to approach the employer with this information when the order is placed, see how the employer would like to proceed, and then keep the employer informed of possible candidates and how the overall recruitment of the position is going.
What would be the case for using a staffing firm rather than handling the hiring internally?
There are many great reasons for seeking a staffing firm, such as expertise, improved productivity, increased flexibility, decreased costs and that the employer gets to try the employee out before offering a permanent position.
Staffing firm representatives generally have a high level of expertise related to job knowledge, employment trends and recruitment practices by virtue of continuous placement of employees.
When there is work overload, hiring temporary workers is the best solution. Employers can maintain their full-time staff while having temporary workers handle the overload. But the main advantage of using a staffing firm is that it can provide the employer with immediate help.
Further, employers can save money and time because they have no commitment to these workers and don’t need to provide benefits, conduct pre-employment testing and background checks, cover unemployment costs, workers compensation costs or payroll taxes.
Jennifer Coon-Leeper, CSP, is a major accounts manager for Ashton Staffing, Inc. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (770) 419-1776.
Insights Staffing is brought to you by Ashton
Any company can attract average employees, but it takes developing your brand to become an employer of choice to attract and retain the best and brightest, says George Thomas, senior vice president of Everstaff.
“Developing your brand is key,” says Thomas. “You need to have a consistent message, a strong ethos and a clear vision that can be understood at all levels of the company. Everybody needs to be able to conceptualize and understand that vision, and everyone needs to be working toward a common goal.”
Smart Business spoke with Thomas about how to develop your brand to become an employer of choice.
Why is it important for everyone to understand the vision?
If don’t have a clear vision as a company, you’re dead. To use a military analogy along the lines of the Napoleonic leadership style, Napoleon was a very successful leader because he knew what he did well, understood his limitations and always had a clear vision for his troops. There was always a clear focus on everyone in every unit (including the lowest ranking foot soldier) understanding all of the tactics to be used in a particular encounter (or battle) and thus bought in to the big picture and were better prepared and motivated to influence the outcome. Having a vision is key, and to develop the vision, you have to understand first what you do well as a company and then what you want to do well. Once you align those two, you can make it happen.
How do you begin communicating that vision to employees?
The goals and vision should always be simple at all levels — don’t complicate it and make sure everyone knows how they impact the ‘big picture’ at their level. There should be reports and metrics that can be used daily by employees so that everyone understands exactly where you are as a business, why you’re there, where you need to be and the steps you need to take to be successful. If everyone understands the vision and expectations, no one should ever be surprised by anything that happens in an organization.
What is the difference between a good company and a great one?
To move a company from good to great, everyone needs to understand where the company is going and that, no matter their level in the company, they play a key role and more importantly, understand what that role is. They’re not doing things just because you said so but because they understand their role in getting the company and themselves to the next level.
Too often, the vision gets watered down. Many times at the senior level, there is a complicated vision that is then simplified for mid-level employees. But it shouldn’t be that complicated at any level, as everyone should be able to understand it and conceptualize it in the same manner.
Without a common goal that they can communicate to each other, people become siloed and are likely to just do what they have to do to keep their jobs. They aren’t sharing ideas or communicating about how to improve the company, they’re just working for themselves. In that case, you are not going to get buy-in, which is the key to success in any organization. You only get buy-in when people understand why they are doing what they’re doing and how it impacts the overall success of the company. If you don’t get buy-in, people are just going to be processors, not producers. And processors don’t make a company great.
How can a company begin to change its culture to become an employer of choice
Start with introspection and be most critical of yourself first. Say, ‘I’ve done a lot of things right to get where we are now, but I may have a dysfunctional company because we don’t have a strong ethos, or I don’t have a clear vision, or people don’t understand why they do what they do. I want to stop treading water and go from good to great, so what do I need to do to improve?’
Then get input from middle management, as they are key to understanding what is going on at your company. Next, go down to the employee level to get feedback on what they think you’re doing well and what you’re not doing well. You’re going to hear a lot of things you may not want to hear, but you need to encourage honest feedback in a professional and constructive manner because it’s going to help you improve your company. Once you’re gathered that information, you can work with senior management to produce a vision and a plan to get your company to the next level
Is this a difficult process?
Change management is by far the most difficult thing you are ever going to deal with as a company. But if you can figure it out, you are going to succeed. It’s well know that employees don’t necessarily love sweeping changes and especially in a company that has been siloed, they’re going to be suspicious. Overcoming that suspicion takes time and patience. If you try to change too much, too quickly, you’ll throw off your operations and productivity because people will be focusing too much on the changes. You have to be willing to invest the time and money to implement change properly.
How can creating this culture help improve your brand?
By attracting the best people. If you can get your best employees to take ownership and have a sense of worth in where the company is going, then they will network with other great people and you will attract the best talent instead of having to search for the best talent.
Your brand is a byproduct of your company culture. You can have a strong brand, but if your culture is not good and everyone knows that, people may recognize your brand, but they recognize it for the wrong reasons.
Take it slowly, get buy-in, make sure people know why they’re doing what they’re doing and communicate the vision in such a way that everyone can conceptualize. Develop the culture, and the brand will follow.
George Thomas is senior vice president at EverStaff. Reach him at (216) 369-2599 or email@example.com.
Insights Recruiting & Staffing is brought to you by Everstaff