Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Passing the Buck Hurts Companies


I've been employed by staffing agencies off and on for over 20 years; it's a little known fact that my third job was through a staffing agency. In some rare cases, the relationship between the staffing agency and the company was wonderful, and communication from both parties was consistent. In some other cases, the relationship between both parties was lacking, and communication from both parties was inconsistent or nonexistent. What I've noticed is that the relationship between staffing agencies and companies is usually in the middle of those two extremes that I mentioned earlier. However, there seems to be one constant in the relationship between the staffing agency and the company; when there is a miscommunication (or misrepresentation), both parties pass the buck.

How it Started

When the staffing agency notified me that a position was available with this company, I was told that my first week of training's schedule would be 7 A.M. - 3:30 P.M., Monday through Friday; then I would finish my second week of training on my normal shift, 3 P.M. - 11:30 P.M., Monday through Friday. While I would have preferred a position that offered at least one weekday off, I jumped at the opportunity. I went through the company's orientation process where my schedule was reiterated, was told that the company intended to hire temps after three to six months, and I was advised to give HR my resume once I was hired on since the company likes to promote from within.

It's a sweet deal for someone like me who has been struggling in the job market for about a year, and come up with nothing. The company seems to be open to diversity, cares about the safety of its workers, it has a good plan for reducing its impact on the environment, and it regularly promotes from within. Let me be honest... The idea that I can keep my steel toes and work in HR thrills me to no end; however, a couple of departments experience really high turnover because both parties fail to tell new temporary workers that some departments work seven days a week.

Bad News

After receiving my first week of on-the-job training on first shift, my trainer advised me that my schedule would not be Monday through Friday. The department that I work in operates seven days a week, and I was told that my supervisor on second shift would let me know what my schedule is. My first reaction was, "I've already worked five days, and it's my first week; now you're telling me that I may have to work several days more before I get a day off?"
Image courtesy of Microsoft
I was pretty unhappy with the idea, and even more unhappy with the idea that my new supervisor had yet to determine my schedule. I was afraid to not show up for work on Saturday, because I was afraid that I'd be listed as a "no call, no show." I was also angry that this had not been disclosed to me by the staffing agency, or the company.

I was ready to turn in my badge. I've dealt with companies that have misrepresented the "small" things in the past; only to discover that misrepresentation is part of the corporate culture. I really wasn't willing to invest my time and effort in a company that was going to lie to me. However, after talking to my trainer and my lead, I found out that I would have weekends off until after my second week of training. Both people admitted that there was a breakdown in communication, and that this breakdown had caused new temporary employees that are assigned to certain departments to leave the company precipitously.

Passing the Buck Can Hurt

Image courtesy of Microsoft
My trainer and I were still discussing the situation while we were getting ready to leave for the weekend, and she said,
"We've been telling <the staffing agency> to disclose the difference in scheduling to new temporary workers because we're tired of losing people, and it makes us (the company) look bad." 
She's right... It does make the company look bad. I was ready to turn in my badge; not because I wanted Saturdays and Sundays off, but because I thought that the company was misrepresenting itself so that it could get bodies to perform the work. Also, the company wants me to respect its time while I am there. The least the company could do is respect my time, and tell me what days I have off so that I can maintain a healthy work-life balance.

This situation doesn't reflect well on the staffing agency from a job candidate perspective, or the company's perspective. From a job candidate's point of view; if I do need to return to the staffing agency, I'll always wonder if the staffing agent is sharing relevant information with me. Also, since this affects the company's current employees, the staffing agency is inadvertently discouraging employees who may need their services in the future from visiting the staffing agency. From the company's perspective, orientation and training costs money. Having to constantly invest time and money in new temporary employees will eventually put a strain on the company's resources. This means that the company might have to re-evaluate its relationship with the staffing agency, and the staffing agency (and the agency's job candidates) will lose.

Who is at Fault? 

"Finger Mobile" by J E Theriot CC By 2.0 
I say both parties in this situation are at fault. Both parties need to stop passing the buck, and make sure that candidates have the information that they need to make an informed decision. On one hand, the staffing agency needs to be more proactive and mention the different schedules when agents discuss the company with candidates. On the other hand, the company needs to have it's own back and share the different schedules with new temporary employees during its orientation.

As implied earlier, this isn't just about doing the "right thing," it's about also about profits. The less money both parties have to spend to find candidates for the job, the better off both parties will be. It should take less than a hour to gather this information, ensure that both parties have access to this information, and to incorporate this information into both parties' existing orientation presentations. That's really all there is to it... less than one hour to make both parties look good, and help both parties to be more profitable.

Thoughts, Comments?

If I missed something here, or if you have some other solutions, please feel free to comment. As always, thanks for reading.

Title image adapted from original image courtesy of Microsoft

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