A recent survey reveals what’s most important to buyers

What’s the most important factor to buyers when selecting a staffing service? If you guessed price, you were wrong.

According to a survey of buyers by Staffing Industry Analysts, 77 percent rate quality of workers as their top concern.

Only 12 percent cited speed of placement as the most important factor. And only 12 percent said that price was the top criterion.

“Quality was far and away the most common motivator for the majority of buyers in all groups surveyed,” says Robert Balicki, research associate at Staffing Industry Analysts. “Even then, some groups stood out: managed service provider users, buyers in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical equipment industry, and buyers of industrial and logistics staffing were particularly likely to be motivated by quality.”

In addition, survey results suggest staffing buyers who value quality may be among the most likely to increase use of temporary workers.

“There is some evidence in the survey of a business opportunity for staffing firms that can consistently deliver quality candidates,” Balicki says. “Buyers who cited quality as the most important aspect are more likely to say they will increase the use of agency temporary workers in the next two years, compared to those motivated by price or speed.”

However, the survey found that staffing buyers have a fair to middling view of the quality of workers they are receiving from their temporary staffing providers.

When asked about the best way to find quality workers, 32 percent of buyers said staffing firms were the best way to go. In comparison, the same percentage said going with statementof- work consultants was the top method to get quality workers. Twenty percent said bringing in independent contractors was the best way to get quality workers, and 17 percent cited internal pools of temporary workers as the best method.

Aside from quality, buyers resoundingly ranked staffing firms at the top in terms of other factors including reduced legal risk, time to fill and availability of workers.

The findings come from the 2011 Contingent Buyers Survey, which took place in the second quarter of 2011 and included responses from 236 contingent workforce buyers at 187 large companies with 1,000 or more employees. The survey was conducted by Staffing Industry Analysts, the publisher of this magazine.

Twenty-six percent of the buyers in the survey had contingent workforce spend of between $100 million and $250 million.

Quality Also Mattered in the Past

This is the first year buyers were asked directly to rank factors in terms of importance when considering temporary staffing services. However, buyers have cited the importance of quality in previous surveys by Staffing Industry Analysts.

In the 2010 survey, 51 percent of buyers said difficulty in finding quality people tends to encourage the use of contingent workers.