Not all staffing firms are created equally. If you have worked with them before, then you already know this. You may not be fully aware of some other factors.
- Ask Around: If you are in any networking groups or are friendly with other HR people or other individuals that assist with recruiting, ask them what staffing firms they have used and if they were good to work with. Chances are, they have worked with multiple staffing firms and can tell you what firm and recruiter to call and better yet, whom to avoid. Reviews are helpful, but they only give one side of the story.
- License: Many companies are not aware that in Massachusetts, staffing and placement firms, as well as temporary agencies, are required by law to get licensed every year. Licensed staffing firms are in “Good Standing with the State” and are audited annually by the DOL to make sure they are practicing the wage and hour laws of that state and staffing-specific laws, such as the “Right to Know” law. Using an unlicensed agency also begs the question, what else are they cutting corners on if they are not being audited annually? You can go online to get a list of licensed staffing firms at: https://www.mass.gov/employment-placement-staffing-agencies-program
- Information: Staffing firms are only as good as the information you give them. You must provide the staffing firm accurate, detailed job descriptions, benefits information, hours/days for the positions available, and general information about the company (e.g., where to park, how lunch and breaks are handled, what holidays are celebrated and whom to ask for on their first day as well as what to expect for training). If any of this information is incorrect, you have a higher probability of the employee leaving in the first week.
- Compliance: When choosing a staffing firm, you want to ensure they are compliant with federal/state laws. Co-employment rules can make the business customer responsible if the staffing firm fails to follow the rules. Depending on your company, you may want to ensure that the staffing firm uses E-Verify. You may also want to make sure that the staffing firm has the appropriate and legally required Minimal Essential Coverage (MEC) health insurance for eligible employees, which is required under the ACA rules.
- Bigger isn’t always better! If you are considering working with a larger, national staffing firm, they often do not have local branches near customers’ locations, so they use sub-vendors that are smaller regional firms, and you may not even know it. That sub-vendor could be cutting corners and the staffing firm may be completely unaware. Just because someone signed a contract does not mean they are following all of the requirements. A local staffing firm can and will also get local sub-vendors if needed. They will know more about the sub-vendors reputation as well when vetting.
You may get a lower mark-up with the larger firms, but you won’t get the same service. Smaller firms give you more direct access and personalized service with the executives and the owner. If there is a problem with a smaller firm, there is less red tape to deal with, and a local firm can usually implement changes quicker. Lastly, they are a part of your business community, and it is always better to support local businesses.