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WNC Business

Professional staffing companies ease workforce challenges

Jan 17, 2024 10:49AM ● By Randee Brown

Using a human resources and staffing business to acquire your next employee involves more than simple hiring — there are a variety of workforce solutions that can be available to businesses, according to Friday Services President William Irving.

In Q4 of 2023, many leaders were wondering what Q1 of 2024 would look like for their business. Some economists were projecting business growth, and some were predicting a rise in unemployment despite the lack of workers for the number of jobs available, according to Spherion Staffing & Recruiting Owner Molly Gaffney-Keebler.

“I don’t think there’s an industry untouched by the current staffing shortage,” Gaffney-Keebler said. “If you drive through town, you’ll see Help Wanted signs everywhere. It may be different in rural communities because there’s a smaller number of businesses, but especially in construction and manufacturing in metro areas, there’s a high need for an increased workforce.”

During COVID shutdowns, many who were approaching retirement took the opportunity, contributing to the workforce gap, according to Gaffney-Keebler. Parents having trouble with childcare during that time either had to shift their work model or leave the workforce altogether. Companies adapting hybrid work models and/or flexible schedules have had an easier time finding good candidates to fill open positions.

Workforce solutions involve strategies to bring new employees into a company. Hiring can include full- or part-time roles, contract positions, or temporary positions, depending on the needs of a company. A human resources business will learn the company’s nuances to help determine the best way to acquire the workforce each client needs to grow.

“People are the number one resource for any business to accomplish any task,” Irving said. “Better employees make better companies, and it’s a full-time job to have the conversations to find the right person and turn that into an opportunity for the company.”

Finding the right new employee requires an investment in time and energy. Not many business leaders are able to drop their existing task load to find the right candidate, according to Irving. Many leaders post available positions on hiring platforms such as Indeed or Monster in hopes of the right person putting in an application, but sifting through those few individuals to find the best one may not be the most successful hiring model. Most businesses will benefit from building a larger pool of candidates and evaluating their culture and skill set to determine the best fit.

“The most popular way we find employees is through referrals from people who have had a good experience with us,” Irving said. “We also do outbound recruiting and have tools that allow us to learn about people’s skills and goals. We also work through platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed because our goal is to meet as many people as possible. We’re constantly building our database because you never really know who is looking. This breaks down barriers for employers.”

Staffing services also have proprietary customer relationship management platforms used to search for potential employees, according to Gaffney-Keebler. Building relationships with potential employees not only benefits immediate clients, but also creates a stockpile of candidates for a variety of companies.

“Some candidates come interested in one job, but may be better qualified for another position,” Gaffney-Keebler said. “We look at their experience, their skill sets, and what their goals are to match them to a position and a client that is a good fit. Understanding the company culture of our clients as well as the needs and concerns of our candidates helps us to be a good matchmaker.”

With more jobs than workers available, employers can have a hard time standing out. Staffing services provide a wider breadth of opportunities without employers having to advertise and search on their own. They have the ability to go directly into the market and recruit, and can use different strategies depending on the types of roles needing to be filled. 

Different hiring models may be available to employers depending on the type of employee needed. Employers may choose to direct-hire the chosen candidate, and others may choose to have the candidates be hired by the staffing firm itself. By using the staffing firm as the employer, companies are able to avoid direct payroll, worker compensation, benefits management and eligibility, and some government reporting.

Human Resources firms may also be placed in charge of onboarding processes for their clients. With some training programs being one to two weeks long and costly for employers, outsourcing this process can help ensure the candidate is the right fit before being brought on directly by the company. 

Most companies prefer their candidates have a positive attitude, reliability, and dependability. Some leaders like to see a good work history, longevity, and specific skill set, but Gaffney-Keebler said many employees have been reevaluating their jobs in recent years.

“People deserve the right to not know what they want to do for the rest of their lives,” Gaffney-Keebler said. “Some people are making big shifts in their career paths, moving into completely different industries than where they started. Others are looking for an increase in pay rates because the cost of living is increasing so rapidly. Our job is to streamline the process and get them into positions more quickly. It’s mutually beneficial for clients and candidates.”