All about staffing agencies

Staffing agency business overview

What is a staffing agency?

A staffing agency is a business that searches for workers on behalf of other organizations. They help these clients with temporary and/or permanent roles. (And they help job seekers find jobs.) Personally, I find this definition from Law Insider to be the most helpful:

“Staffing agency means any person who undertakes, with or without compensation, to recruit, refer or place individuals for employment, or to procure opportunities for work, or to with an employer.” – Staffing agency definition from Law Insider.

For temporary jobs, the staffing agency acts as the “employer of record” or legal employer and provides workers wages and benefits. For permanent jobs, the staffing agency operates as an extension of the HR team by helping them recruit, screen, and interview talent for permanent jobs within the company. This model, often called “direct hire,” is different in that the recruited person is never an employee of the staffing agency.

Staffing agencies tend to specialize in a particular kind of service or talent. For our part, we mostly focus on office and professional roles.

What else do you call staffing agencies?

Staffing companies are called many different things, some of which include:

  • Employment agencies
  • Recruitment companies
  • Consulting companies
  • Staffing firm

All of these terms are interchangeable and it’s mostly a matter of preference which label a staffing company prefers using.

Additionally, the service performed, staffing, is itself sometimes called different things, such as:

  • Staff augmentation (often associated with information technology staffing projects)
  • Consulting services (often associated with IT when the workers are 1099 contractors, not employees)
  • Temp service (usually associated with short term, less experienced positions)
  • Contingent labor (often associated with project-based staffing)
  • Employee leasing (this is a somewhat outdated term referring specifically to temporary employment)

These terms are also all interchangeable.

How much do staffing agencies cost?

Staffing agencies make money through temporary staffing, temp-to-permanent staffing, or direct hire staffing. Each of these models generate revenue for the agency a little differently.

  • Temporary staffing: the client is charged an hourly “bill rate” that accounts for costs associated with the employed individual. These include: wages, benefits, insurance, risk, operating costs, and profit. Costs might also be expressed as a “markup rate” or “markup percent.” For example, an employee makes $50 / hour and the markup rate charged by the agency is 50%. The bill rate is therefore $75 / hour ($50 + $50*.5).
  • Temp-to-permanent staffing: the client is charged an hourly “bill rate” as they are in normal temporary staffing. However, the client can hire the person on directly if they’re a good fit for the organization. If this happens, the client is charged a placement fee that decreases over time the longer the employee works temporarily.
  • Direct hire staffing: the client is charged a percent of the first year’s annual salary for the selected candidate. This is sometimes called a “placement fee” For example, if a person makes $100,000 / year and the placement fee is 25%, the amount charged is $25,000. Sometimes, a client asks for “executive search services.” This model is virtually identical except is usually a harder and more involved search reserved for leadership roles. It also typically costs more.

Actual out-the-door costs for staffing vary within the industry and is subject to negotiation based on a range of factors. The good news is that it usually doesn’t cost anything to have a staffing agency look for talent. It only costs if you decide to bring someone on board.

For our part, you can schedule a time to go over pricing with one of our business development team.

Is temporary or direct hire better for me as a client?

Different organizations will prefer various staff augmentation models. Generally, there are several key questions to ask yourself:

  • Is this project-based or short term? If so, I recommend temporary staffing.
  • Do I want to try the worker out? If so, I recommend temporary-to-permanent staffing.
  • Do I want help recruiting for internal roles? If so, I recommend direct hire.
  • Do I want to pay up front or spread out the cost? If up front, I recommend direct hire as a straight forward, one time fee. If spread out, I recommend temporary-to-permanent.

Who uses staffing agencies?

Many organizations use staffing agencies. Government, companies, nonprofits–most organizations use or have used staffing agencies to solve business needs such as finding talent quickly or completing projects.

Why hire a staffing agency?

This is the question I get asked the most: “Why would I hire a staffing agency when I could just recruit myself?

 

Some of the top reasons organizations hire staffing companies include:

  • Try before you buy: if you want to try out someone on a temporary basis before committing to hiring them, this can be a great reason to utilize temporary or temp-to-permanent models.
  • Unable or too busy to find talent yourself: sometimes you need help finding someone. Whether you need a whole bunch of people for a time sensitive project or are struggling to find a hard-to-find candidate, staffing agencies act as an extension of your HR to find and send you talent.
  • Cost effectiveness: it can actually be cheaper to bring on temporary personnel instead of paying staff by the time you account for wages, benefits, cost to train, and other hidden employment costs. This is especially the case if the work is not constant and you’d be struggling to find things for another extra employee to do. Similarly, it can be cost effective to utilize direct hire if not having someone in role is costing you money. In both cases, utilizing these services can also cut down on costs related to advertising jobs and employing recruiters.
  • Reduced organizational risk: whenever you employ someone, you’re taking on risk. A staffing agency absorbs the cost of workers compensation and health insurance. They’re also liable for unemployment claims. Finally, should any labor disputes arise, it is usually the staffing agency that is held accountable.
  • Access to their talent pool and expertise: staffing agencies spend all day, every day recruiting. Your HR team, by contrast, may only do it once in a while. When you sign up with a staffing agency, they often have recruited for similar previous roles before and perhaps have some candidates already ready to go. They can often find talent faster than you can and access talent that was not visible to you.

Need staffing help?

Our recruiters are ready to assist. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation. You can also check out our guide to picking the right staffing agency for you.

Largest staffing agency in Austin award 2022

Peak Performers recognized in Austin

2nd largest staffing agency by hours billed

Peak Performers Staffing Agency is pleased to announce that in Austin Business Journal’s recent survey of staffing agencies, we are the second largest staffing agency in Austin with 863,696 local hours billed by temporary personnel in 2021.

Comments from Bree Sarlati, CEO:

Peak Performers is honored to accept this recognition as the second largest staffing agency in Austin. We are changing the world one job at a time by hiring professionals with disabilities. A big thanks to all of our customers who are helping us hire–we could not do this without you. Also, thanks to all of the talented, professional job seekers who seek us out looking for their next opportunity. We appreciate your trusting us to help you with your career transition.

If you’re hiring in Austin, we can help. Find out why we’re an award winning staffing agency who can help you find great talent and advance your DE&I goals through diverse hiring.

And if you’re looking for work, we can help you find Austin jobs.

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Media contact: myles@peakperformers.org – (512) 453-8833 X 116

Competitive, Integrated Employment for People with Disabilities

Sheltered Workshops vs Competitive, Integrated Employment

When you hear hear “employment for people with disabilities,” what do visualize? The first picture that enters many people’s head is a sheltered workshop. In sheltered workshops, groups of individuals with disabilities work side-by-side. Often these people with disabilities have similar disabilities to each other. Sheltered workshops help many people but are not competitive, integrated employment situations.

Sheltered workshop image
Light assembly work being performed by people with disabilities in a sheltered workshop
  • Sheltered workshops are often run by nonprofits to employ people with disabilities.
  • Employment in sheltered workshops is often based on their disability.
  • Their work is often light assembly.
  • Pay to people with disabilities in sheltered workshops is usually very low, sometimes even below minimum wage.
  • People who participate in sheltered workshops can often only earn up to a certain amount before they become ineligible for state assistance.

My great aunt participated in a program like this. Due to the extent of her intellectual disability, this was a good environment for her to do something during the day. Also, it gave time back to my grandparents, who were her full time caregivers. For this reason, I would argue that these programs do have an inherent value in our society and are appropriate for some people with disabilities.

Competitive, Integrated Employment Matters

When sheltered workshops are the only thing society envisions when they picture “work for people with disabilities,” we are discounting the abilities of many people.

Every person with a disability also has a unique range of abilities. We cannot make assumptions about a person’s ability because many people with disabilities are capable of competitive and integrated employment in the regular workforce.

Competitive and integrated employment means:

Competitive: Their employment is primarily contingent on their ability to perform the work.
Integrated: They are working side-by-side with people who do not have disabilities.

Peak Performers Staffing Agency was established to help people with disabilities find competitive, integrated employment. This means:

  • The most qualified applicant who has a disability gets the job. (We cannot help every job seeker with a disability find work.)
  • Some if our employees we have to terminate for failure to meet expectations.
  • Our employees are paid competitive wages and offered competitive benefits.
  • Some of our employees will work for Peak for multiple assignments.
  • Many of our employees will go onto get hired by the client or find other competitive jobs.
  • Sometimes a client will know an employee of ours has a disability (since it is visible) and sometimes they won’t (if it’s an invisible disability).

People with disabilities are a large group of people with varying abilities and also varying limitations–just like people without disabilities! If you are ready to hire people with disabilities, first look at the person and then at the disability. If you utilize this mindset, you’ll be surprised by what they’re capable of.

If you’re not sure how start but are interested in employing people with disabilities, we can help!

Peak Performers launches retirement program

New Benefit: 403(b) Retirement Program

Peak Performers is excited to announce that they are now offering a 403(b) retirement program for all employees!

  • This program is similar to 401(k) programs–employees may voluntarily contribute a percent of their paycheck; the annual maximum contribution limit is $20,500
  • All employees, no matter how long they’re employed with us, are eligible for the program
  • 403(b) programs are “pre-tax” programs
  • This program is administered through T. Rowe Price
  • Upon starting work with Peak Performers, employees will get a series of automatic emails giving them information about how to opt-in to the program

We are excited to offer this opportunity for our employees to save for their future! New Peak Performers employees can opt into the program when they sign onboarding paperwork. If you are a current associate and would like to opt in later, you can request the paperwork by contacting benefits@peakperformers.org.

Note: Peak Performers is unable to provide financial or investment advice. Current employees should defer questions to T. Rowe Price or their financial advisor.

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Media contact: myles@peakperformers.org – (512) 453-8833 X 116

Top Rated Staffing Agencies in Austin

Picking the Best Staffing Agency

Whether you’re a job seeker or an employer, picking a top rated staffing agency in Austin is key to your success. Staffing agencies are key partners. Here are some considerations to keep in mind to help you pick the top rated staffing agency.

Staffing Agency Considerations

Staffing Specialization

When considering the best staffing agency, consider first your industry specialization. Many staffing firms will specialize in particular kinds of staffing. The leaders of these staffing firms often have experience recruiting for that industry and plenty of connections. Furthermore, the search process for an accountant or information technology professional may look very different than recruiting for a warehouse worker–the staffing firm might have to go to different places to find those workers.

And if you’re a job seeker, seeking out a staffing firm that specializes in your field means you’re more likely to find a job faster.

Finally, you may want to pick a company that has the kinds of service offerings you’re looking for. Peak Performers, for example, offers temporary, temp-to-perm, and direct hire opportunities.

Retention and Re-deployment

Unfortunately, some staffing firms, even top-rated ones, have a “revolving door” reputation.

As a job seeker, you don’t want a company that doesn’t value your loyalty. And as a business, having employees constantly coming and going costs you time and money.

Ask about the company’s retention and re-deployment focus. For our part, both are key to our success and our nonprofit mission and we have a turnover rate that is half that of the industry average.

Benefits Offered

Key to keeping employees happy is offering them benefits. Many staffing agencies have little-to-no benefits that they offer, or their benefits are substandard. It’s no wonder then that their employees keep looking for other work and they struggle with retention.

For our part, we offer health, dental, and vision insurance after 60 days. Also, we have an Employee Assistance Program. Finally, we recently rolled out a 403(b) retirement program to help employees save. This helps keep our workforce engaged and committed to their current job.

Ratings and Referrals of Staffing Agency

These days, every staffing business in Austin is rated online (you can find our Google ratings and reviews here). As a job seeker, this is important so you can hear honest feedback and insights into the company. But it’s also equally important for businesses to use this evaluate staffing agencies. After all, staffing agencies are acting as an extension of your brand and representing your jobs.

What’s also valuable is asking for referrals from your network.

Recruitment Costs

If you’re a job seeker, a staffing agency should never charge you to consider you for employment. This is most likely a scam.

If you are a client, consider staffing agency cost from multiple perspectives: hourly bill rate, conversion cost, direct hire fees, and other add-on fees. Also ask about their “placement guarantee,” which is like insurance on your direct hire. Also, keep in mind that you may not want to pick out the “cheapest” staffing agency. (Sometimes, you get what you pay for.)

 

Are you looking for work? If so, browse our jobs or join our talent pool. We’re happy to consider you for employment.

Are you looking to hire a top rated staffing agency in Austin? Peak Performers has solutions temp, temp-to-hire, and direct hire staffing needs. Also, we service both government customers and private companies.

Top Reasons Government Agencies Uses Temporary Workers

As the outside recruiter and business development representative for Peak Performers, I spend a lot of time at recruiting events and vendor fairs. At these events, I am often asked by people why public sector entities (state agencies, federal government, city and municipalities, transit authorities, and education organizations) use staffing agencies. There’s actually a lot of answers to this question. Here are some reasons the government has increasingly grown to rely on a temporary and contingent workforce to run their operations.

They Can’t Find People with the Right Skill Sets

First and foremost, professional staffing agencies exist to fill a need and that need is very often for roles that the client themselves cannot find the right people for. A large state agency has many things to do besides recruit. Staffing agencies spend most of their time doing primarily that. They are also exposed to a wider pool of qualified candidates because they regularly advertise jobs, attend recruiting events, and build up a robust referral network. The sheer activity of recruiting naturally pulls in more candidates than they can use, and many of those candidates may be fits for other jobs the recruiting firm has.

It’s also important to note that public sector entities generally have a more complicated application process which discourages many job seekers. Job seekers who do make it through their process also typically wait longer to hear back from the employer. In this lag time, they are more likely to find another job and move on. Staffing agencies offer a lower barrier to entry and move faster to recruit and onboard candidates than the public sector can.

They Don’t Have the Budget for a Full Time Employee

Agencies often have a strictly allocated budget that dictates not only how much they can spend but how they can spend it. This budget has separate amounts allocated for full time employees versus temporary employees. Budget for temporary personnel may even come out of a miscellaneous budget area where there are extra funds. Budget for temporary personnel may be project-based as well and have not only a fixed amount of dollars but a fixed amount of time.

While on the surface it may seem cheaper to hire a full-time employee from the start, many clients find this is not the case. So why would you pay a company to recruit and hire for you at a markup when you could have done it yourself?

First off, the cost of employees are usually the single largest cost for every organization–and what you pay them is only the beginning of that cost. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the cost of any employee’s benefits package 31% of their total cost to the employer. That means that if you pay an employee $34.50 per hour, the true cost of that employee is $50 per hour. Given this cost, it actually makes decent economic sense to pay a staffing company a markup fee.

This also doesn’t factor in the unseen costs that go into hiring: the cost of staff time to recruit and interview candidates, the cost of training employees, and the cost of making a bad hire. The Center for American Studies estimates the average turnover cost to be around 50% of the annual salary. In other words, if you pay an employee $34.50 an hour (about $71,760 annually) you pay on average $35,880 for a bad hire. Ouch.

“Try Before You Buy”

Recruiting is expensive. The cost of making a bad hire is also expensive. When an employee is let go shortly after starting, organizations eat the time and cost of recruiting, interviewing, onboarding, and training said employee. (That’s not accounting for intangible costs if the employee hurt the organization, damaged morale, or hampered productivity.) Then the recruiters have to start over with no guarantee the next person will be better.

For this reason, many organizations have embraced “try before you buy” hiring, also known as temp-to-perm hiring. In this approach, the client brings on the new employee on a temporary basis and hires them as a full time employee after a trial period. Meanwhile, all the aforementioned costs are incurred by the recruiting firm. Risks are minimized as well.

Many organizations will try out an employee using this method if they are unsure if their own intention is to hire them on full time. They have a “let’s wait and see” approach to determine if the project is important enough to justify the cost and if they really need that position filled for the long term.

All Work is Temporary

The Department of Labor recently estimated that 20% of all workers work on a temporary basis. Even without factoring in the “gig economy” that is now so pervasive, more workers are choosing to work on a temporary basis and more employers are seeking them out that way.

Even for full time workers, the increasing market trend is pointing towards the average worker staying in their job for 2-3 years. Thus, we might argue: all work is, in effect, temporary.

Similarly, organizations are structuring their personnel in order to most efficiently accommodate cycles in work. We often say “staff for the peaks, not the valleys.” What we mean by this is that there are usually cycles of work that are going to be lighter during certain parts of the year. We find what works best is that the customer maintains internal staff for the “valleys” of the year and then bring on temporary staff for the “peak” work times when they are busier than usual.

Do you need help finding workers? Peak Performers services the government (as well as other private sector entities). Check our our contracts or contact us to discuss your unique staffing need.