Friday, May 3, 2013

Staffing Services and First Impressions

In last week's article I discussed how my visit to a local staffing agency went, and how appalled I was by the agency's overall attitude towards its new recruits. A few days later, I realized something; maybe the agency's clients do not know how the staffing agency treats new recruits, or understand that the first impression that the agency gives to new recruits may reflect poorly on the agency's clients.
staffing agency ad, torn newspaper

Outsourcing 101

Outsourcing is a topic that has been frequently discussed in several of the business- and HR-focused classes that I've attended. It's not a very pleasant topic for people like me who don't have experience in our fields of study because it means that the job market is even more competitive than it was before. However, students are learning that they may be asked at some point in their careers to perform research on companies to outsource certain jobs or projects. There are three key factors that we are advised to look at when considering companies for outsourcing:
  1. Values
  2. Standards
  3. Price 
Price is at the bottom of the list because if the outsourcing company's values or standards don't match your company's values and standards, then it's likely that outsourcing is not a cost-effective solution.

Values and Standards

Why should an outsourcing company's values and standards meet your company's standards? Because of something I like to call "GiGo:"

If your company outsources a project or a job to another company with lower values and standards, then what your company will receive in return will not be useful to your company. Someone within the company will need to spend time and effort in order to make the outputs useful.

On the other hand, maybe the outsourcing company's values and standards exceed your company's values and standards. While this may sound like a really wonderful concept, you may find that:
  1. The company isn't getting what it needs when it needs it.
  2. The company is paying for something that it does not need.
  3. The company may not get what it really needs because the outsourcing company dismissed it as "below standard."
None of these options are cost-effective or efficient for your company.

In the Staffing Context

When your company recruits workers, does it:
  • Provide applicants with inaccurate information? 
  • Dismiss applicants who meet the job requirements, but do not exceed them?
  • Make applicants wait for 30 minutes while the interviewer grooms her/himself?
  • Allow your interviewers to act in a disrespectful manner towards applicants?
  • Lie about updating an applicant's information?
It's likely that the answer is, "No," and your company probably has clear guidelines and procedures for coaching or disciplining recruiters and interviewers who perform those actions because your company wants to attract motivated, knowledgeable, and skilled employees. You and your company understand the importance of first impressions; if candidates feel like they are being treated unfairly, they will tell everyone they know, and so on. This will harm your company's chances of attracting motivated, knowledgeable, and skilled employees; which means that your company could experience high turnover rates and have to provide expensive training for unskilled new hires.
"/doh" by hobvlas sudoneighm CC By 2.0

If a company does not allow its HR personnel to act in the manner mentioned above; then why does it outsource its staffing needs to agencies that consistently allow this behavior? While my friends and family are not a large sampling of the workforce, I wanted to share some of the impressions we have gotten from our local staffing agencies about several companies in our areas:
  • The company doesn't care about us.
  • The company won't recognize the contribution we've made.
  • We expect to be treated poorly.
  • If the staffing agency's standards exceed the company's standards, we aren't being paid what we are worth.
  • We will be surprised if the position is temp-to-hire, because the agency said that about our last three gigs; yet, here we are.
It may be that the staffing agency your company uses is aligned with your company's values and standards; however, this may not be the case.

Final Thoughts

What steps does your company take to ensure that your contingent workforce receive a good first impression of the company?

Is the company getting more (or less) than it paid for?

Is the agency sending workers who meet the company's standards, or is it sending desperate and overqualified workers instead of qualified workers who will stay?

Is the agency setting the correct expectations for workers (i.e. temp-to-hire, long-term temp, short-term temp)?

Let me know your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

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