Is Your Organization Considering the Services of a Staffing Firm? Tips on Choosing the Right Firm

Now more than ever organizations are considering the services of Staffing Firms. Selecting an appropriate staffing firm can often cause undo stress and uncertainty within the organization. With steep competition in the market, locating a staffing firm is a no brainer, but how can your organization be assured that the firm you select will provide qualified temporary assistance and excellent service?

WHAT EXACTLY CAN A STAFFING FIRM PROVIDE?

The primary goal of most staffing firms is to provide qualified professionals on a temporary or short term basis for a predetermined and negotiated hourly or placement fee. Many staffing firms provide a number of services to include direct hire placement services and even relocation assistance for prospective employees. In this economic climate, more and more organizations engage the services of staffing firms. Staffing firms provide employees who can function on an as needed basis to fill in open positions in the absence of the organization’s own employees. Utilizing a staffing firm reduces overhead and costly hiring expense. Since the staffing firm conducts its own recruiting efforts, pre-screens the applicants, and provides the payroll for their temporary employees, organizations look to staffing firms as a partner in their efforts to remain fully staffed and functional. Since employers pay one flat rate for a fully pre-screened candidate for a predetermined period of time, employers find these services convenient and flexible enough to meet their needs.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN SELECTING STAFFING FIRMS?

First and foremost take a moment to conduct a bit of research. Google is frequently the best resource to obtain a list of relevant companies in your local area. Make a list of staffing firms that immediately catch your attention. If they have a web site listed, visit their website for contact information and service offerings. Keep in mind that not all staffing companies offer the same services; some even specialize in specific placement services such as providing health care professionals or administrative professionals.   After you have garnered the necessary information from your research efforts, you should call each company and inquire about their services. At the same time, you should be asking specific questions to ensure the staffing firm provides at the very least the following:

  • Get a Rate Quote. Make sure that any hidden fees are disclosed to you before you make a decision. Some firms bill flat rates for particular professionals, whereas some firms have rate differentials depending on the time of day and on weekends. A bit of advice to heed: organizations are tempted by low bill rates during their selection process. Just because a firm has low bill rates, does not mean that you will get the level of service your organization may require. Remember you get what you pay for! On the other hand, be weary of those staffing firms that bill enormously high rates.
  • Employer/Employee Based Firms: Check to make sure the staffing firm classes their temporary professionals as their own employees. Many firms, particularly in the healthcare staffing industry, employ temporary assistance that the staffing firm considers Independent Contractors. Do not do business with a staffing firm who structures itself in this manner. Most staffing firms that hire Independent Contractors, do no offer worker’s compensation coverage on those particular temporary professionals. This will leave your organization at risk for much liability. Your organization may also be left to deal with the employee’s tax burden if the staffing firm’s Independent Contractor does not full fill their own tax obligations.
  • Billing Terms and Agreements: Check the terms of the contract and billing/invoicing procedures. Staffing firms tend to bill their clients on a weekly basis for services rendered. If this arrangement is the case, check to make sure that you can make a monthly payment without the risk of being charged late fees or even interest.
  • Obtain a Sample Contract before Making a Final Decision: Ask to review a sample contract. Read the contract carefully or have someone in your legal department review it. Pay specific attention to penalty fees or buyout clauses. A penalty fee may be imposed upon your organization if you cancel the temporary professional (because you no longer need that employee) before the agreed upon time frame (e.g. a 13 week short term assignment). Also make certain that you understand the buyout clause. If you choose to hire the employee as your own from the staffing firm, the staffing firm may impose a “buy out” fee. In your selection process, it might be a good idea to consider the selection of a staffing firm that has moderate bill rates and a fair buyout fee.
  • One Final Tip: Look to the experts in order to find the most appropriate staffing firm. Check with the largest staffing organization, the American Staffing Association. Members of this organization must abide by rigorous guidelines and codes of ethics. Staffing firms, who are members of this association, are accepted only if they follow the ASA Code of Ethics which includes the employer/employee based service arrangement. If it’s health care staffing services you are seeking, check to make sure that the staffing firm is certified by The Joint Commission.

Selecting a staffing firm that not only meets your needs, but also provides your organization with quality professionals and service will prove to be beneficial for your company without the headaches and worry normally associated with your company’s selection process.