“Outsourcing” seems to be the hot word in the business world nowadays. After all, you can outsource almost everything, from marketing to production to sales. It only makes sense then that you consider outsourcing your hiring process, which usually means using an employment agency to help you find your next best employee. But is that the right route for you and your small business?
In an effort to help you answer this question, I reached out to Amy Morrison, Area Manager for Employment Plus in Lapeer, Michigan. Amy has been in the staffing industry since 2002, learning the various ins and outs of outsourcing in this particular area and making her the perfect person to provide you the information you need to help make this sometimes difficult decision.
Included in this article are just some of the questions I asked her, as well as her insightful answers. While her responses are somewhat specific to the Lapeer Employment Plus, a lot of them apply across the board. For the ones that don’t, you will at least have a better base knowledge in regard to outsourcing the hiring process, helping you to make a more informed decision for you and your small business.
What types of companies use employment agencies?
With Amy’s branch of Employment Plus located in the heart of a rural area (the “thumb” as it is affectionately called by Michiganders who routinely use the back of their left hand to show their location within the mitten-shaped state), most of the companies she works for are in
manufacturing. Therefore, a lot of the positions she helps fill are production-based, including those in technical and skilled trades. However, they also help find clerical staff, which means that they can serve both back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house needs.
What types of services do employment agencies offer?
Using an employment agency gives you multiple ways to hire for your small business. This includes the hiring of temporary staff for a position that is only open for a short period of time (such as when you have a current staff member who is off due to illness or injury), temporarily hiring with the potential of hiring full-time, direct hire, contracting, and more. Essentially, if you have an open position that you wish to fill, an employment agency can probably assist you, no matter what your needs.
What are the benefits of working with an employment agency?
Amy explains that “the employment agency is, in essence, an extension of your personnel department or HR department.” As such, the benefits of using an agency filled with staffing experts include knowing where to look to find just the right candidate, as well as effective screening of qualified prospects. In the end, this means reduced employee turnover, increased retention, and even reduced injury rates thanks in part to their safety orientation provided by the staffing agency.
Hiring an employee through an employment agency also allows you to work with a person before committing to hire him or her. This gives you adequate time to assess the individual’s work performance and decide whether he or she is right for the position and the company.
How do you screen employees?
Screening new employees involves first obtaining a detailed application. If the individual has a criminal history, those are referred to a specialized team to evaluate the prospect on a case by case basis so as not to violate equal employment laws while still protecting the company at the same time.
Although they do their best to check references, employment agencies often run into the same obstacles as the companies they work for in this regard. Amy reports that they are finding it increasingly difficult to get a return call, let alone usable information due to fears of liability.
If you request, Employment Plus will do drug screening and even offers customized testing to assess the person’s skill level for a particular position. The screening process ends with an interview in which the staffing agency meets with the person one-on-one to determine if he or she is a good fit for the company and the opening being filled.
What are some things a small business should look for when selecting an employment agency?
If you are considering using an employment agency for your staffing needs, Amy suggests that you do the following:
- Ask plenty of questions. The more you know, the easier it will be to make an informed, educated decision that is right for you and your particular small business.
- Be specific. When it comes to hiring, know exactly what type of screenings you want, what work experience you desire in the position being filled, and the work requirements. This can help increase the odds that you will get the perfect person for the job.
- Know your contract. Be aware of what your contractual obligations would be with the employment agency. This includes the length of the contract, fees, and any other responsibilities that fall on you.
- Contact references. Ask to speak to others who have used their services to see what they think about using them. Find out what they like and dislike about that particular agency to help you decide if they are right for you.
Hopefully this information has helped you decide whether you should use an employment agency for your small business hiring needs. Even if you’re still not sure, at the very least, you are now more informed and that is often half the battle.