How to forge a successful working relationship.
Make sure the staffing company has the resources to meet your needs.
Ask about its recruiting program. Does it have a staff or department dedicated to bringing qualified applicants through the door, or does it rely solely on the newspaper and phone directories to recruit new candidates? (This could represent a very limited pool of candidates.) Does it have multiple branches in locations close to your company? If not, temporary workers may have long commutes, increasing the likelihood of absenteeism and broken commitments.
How large is the firm's applicant pool in your required skill area?
How many applicants are currently available? How does the company maintain its files? (Make sure it has a computerized system to keep track of its temporary workers.)
What is the company's screening-and-testing process for applicants?
It should at least conduct an in-person interview, check references and have applicants complete computer or paper-based tests depending on their skill sets. (Some services use behavioral type testing to uncover attitudes related to work ethic and productivity.) If your service uses backup suppliers to fill difficult orders, does the subcontractor adhere to the same testing-and-screening standards?
How does the staffing service treat its temporary workers?
Does it have employee-oriented programs that reward and recognize good performance? How often does it actually meet with its temporary employees? Research indicates temporary workers want to feel like they're more than "just a commodity." More contact generally leads to stronger loyalty, positive morale and ultimately better on-the-job performance.
Does the staffing company have an internal service-quality program or special certification (ISO 9000, for example)?
This would indicate a commitment to making ongoing improvements in both its internal and external systems.
Ask to meet not only with the sales person handling your account, but also with the individual who is actually making the match on your assignments.
It's important the person assigning temporary workers has a good understanding of both your skill requirements and your organization's climate and culture.
How is the turnover within the staffing company itself?
Is it a revolving door with new sales and placement contacts moving in and out every few months? Or is there a level of stability that supports a high-quality service-delivery system?
Does the staffing service offer its temporary workers a competitive pay and benefits package?
Where does it place its pay rates in comparison with the market (low, mid-level, high)? Does it offer health-insurance options and paid time-off benefits? Most services pay temporary workers 7.5 hours of vacation pay for every 300 to 500 hours they work, which can cover vacation days or be taken as bonus pay.
Does the staffing service have a backup system in place for last-minute sick calls or broken commitments?
Many services have evening and weekend staff in place to respond quickly to assignment glitches. If yours is a particularly important assignment, let the service know and request the firm have someone on call if possible, to fill in if any last-minute problems arise.
Ask temporary workers which service they prefer.
Word travels fast within the local workforce about how different staffing services treat their employees.
Workforce, April 1997, Vol. 76, No. 4, p. 78.