As SIA President Barry Asin says, “The highest service we can perform is finding a job for a person in need,” drawing on the words of Moses Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher of the Middle Ages. And that’s what this industry does. Through our work, the SIA editorial team sees the value the industry provides, that it comprises professionals who truly care about placing people in the right positions. These individuals take great personal pride in connecting people with employment, helping them provide for their families while reaching their career and personal goals.
Yet, the industry continues to struggle with an unsavory reputation. With net promoter scores typically hovering around 40% for years, the industry has long been seen by the workforce as a necessary evil.
Here are three common complaints about staffing companies that we have heard recently from temporary workers. Our hope is that by highlighting them, we can start a dialogue — one you can have with your recruiters or with the temps — on how to change the narrative.
Lack of information. Take a recent scenario. An acquaintance earned her graduate degree amid Covid and has been looking for employment since. Things looked promising when she lined up three separate interviews. Two of the interviews were with staffing firms that, as it turns out, were interviewing her for the same role. The third? It was with the client company itself. Yes, all three interviews were for the same exact role.
Knowing how buyer organizations farm out roles to multiple staffing firms, I was not surprised. But she was understandably frustrated, because she asked before her interviews for the name of the hiring company but was not provided that information.
This could have been dealt with quite differently. The staffing firms could have been up front with her and mentioned the client’s name. Yes, they might have lost out had the candidate picked one staffing firm over the other. But in the long run, the honesty and professionalism would have gone a long way, and she might be recommending them to her circle, widening their potential candidate pools. Instead, the employer value proposition of both companies is negatively impacted.
Ghosting. In a recent survey, 77% of job seekers said they have been ghosted by a recruiter amid the pandemic — 10% after receiving an initial job offer! It’s ironic because staffing firms have long complained of workers who do this. But it cuts both ways. We all know that recruiting amid the pandemic has been tricky, but staffing firms need to be empathetic and take a step back. Ghosting is wrong even when job seekers do it, but recruiters definitely should not be following suit. It can only tarnish your brand. You want to build trust that comes with a long-term relationship for when employment improves and candidates have their pick of jobs.
What to expect. One of the most common complaints temps reported to SIA in a 2020 survey was that their actual assigned duties did not match the job description they were given, leaving them with a sense of bait and switch. Some of the reported mismatch was minor, but others were startling. Give your temporary workers the courtesy of the truth and fill them in with the details of what the role involves before they start. For example, are the hours expected to be 40 hours a week or is it actually 30? Are there any cultural issues to be navigated? Does the supervisor expect certain protocol? Some organizations are formal and demanding; others are not. People are more likely to successfully navigate such challenges if they know what they’re walking into.
Interestingly, the perception is not all grim. SIA’s 2021 Temporary Worker Survey shows significant improvement in a number of areas, including the net promoter score, which, amid the pandemic, stood at 60%. Additionally, more temp workers in 2021 agreed or strongly agreed with statements such as they received adequate communication from their staffing provider as well as preparation for job interviews than in prior years’ surveys.
Staffing firms should continue to do what it takes to build goodwill among temporary workers. Brand aside, people are your business. Do it well and reap the rewards.