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How to Select a Staffing Agency That Fits Your Company Culture

Date Published: August 25, 2021 | Last Updated:September 15, 2023 | By Hugo Britt
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There are few things more critical to business success than identifying, attracting, recruiting, and retaining talented employees; those who will not only perform at a high level but assimilate naturally in your workplace. This includes every hire, whether they are permanent or temporary.

At present, top candidates are in high demand and competition between employers is fierce. For organizations without the resources to implement a robust in-house recruitment program, establishing a partnership with a staffing agency promises several benefits:

  • Flexibility – In a post-COVID-19 world, many employers are looking to hire a higher proportion of contract workers and short-term/temporary employees. Staffing agencies are well-placed to accommodate this requirement.
  • Access to specialist recruitment tools – Staffing agencies will likely have access to sophisticated recruitment tools and software to help them source top, temporary talent.
  • Reduced cost – Recruitment is expensive, both in terms of the upfront costs and company resources. You’ll need to consider advertising, interview and assessment processes, background checks, training, and onboarding. A staffing agency can significantly alleviate your recruitment burden and reduce your overall costs.
  • Increased efficiency – The process of finding a highly skilled and specialized employee can be time-consuming and arduous. You might need to use multiple channels and sift through hundreds of resumés. Staffing agencies have access to a large pool of pre-screened talent and the best recruitment tools, which can dramatically shorten your hiring cycle.

A decent staffing agency can certainly provide all of these benefits but, with so many options available, finding the perfect fit for your organization can be a little overwhelming. To select an agency that best meets your requirements and suits your company’s culture, consider the following questions.

What are your business needs and priorities?

The first step in selecting the right staffing agency for your organization is to define your objectives. If you can clearly articulate your needs during initial discussions with prospective agencies, it will be much easier to establish whether or not they are the right fit for you.

Some important things to consider:

  • Will this be a long-term or short-term partnership? Perhaps you’re looking for a staffing agency to recruit for a small number of very specific roles. Alternatively, you might want an agency that can fulfill all your staffing needs for the foreseeable future.
  • Do you want a staffing agency that can manage the entire end-to-end hiring process – to include sourcing, interviewing, screening, skill-testing, etc. – or are there specific aspects you require help with?
  • What are your organization’s core values? It’s important that you describe your workplace culture and the qualities you rate most highly in prospective candidates.

Does the staffing agency have a good track record?

You’ll need to thoroughly interrogate and reference-check any prospective staffing agencies. Their prior performance and the experiences of former clients will provide a good indication of their level of suitability and the kind of service you can expect to receive.

Before reaching out to an agency, do some research to find out how long they have been in business, what kind of organizations they have worked with in the past, their online reputation, and their area of expertise.

If you’re satisfied with their credentials at this stage, the next step is to set up a meeting and delve a little deeper into their business practices. You’ll want to find out the size of their talent pool, how they source their candidates, what technologies they use, their fees and pricing structure, and how they leverage online platforms such as social media sites and jobs boards. It’s also worth addressing the metrics by which they measure success, how they manage their pool of candidates, and their strategy for managing an unsuccessful candidate placement. Consider it a major red flag if representatives from a prospective staffing agency seem reluctant to discuss any of the above. When it comes to partnering with an agency, transparency is key.

Finally, try to speak to at least one former client who can verify all of the above and describe their working relationship with the agency. This is the best way to be sure that an agency’s culture aligns with your own before committing to a partnership.

Does the staffing agency have experience in your industry?

Whether you require help filling a limited number of highly specialized roles or a big range of positions, your chosen staffing agency should have at least some experience of working with clients in your industry.

You’ll save a lot of time and enjoy a much better service by partnering with an agency that understands how your business operates, the current market conditions, and the key challenges and opportunities your industry faces.

You’ll notice that certain agencies offer a niche service, catering to specific categories such as IT, healthcare, or professional services, while others will serve a variety of industries. If you do opt for the latter, be sure to clarify that your chosen agency knows enough about your industry to do a good job.

It’s also worth considering what kind of relationship you hope to foster with your staffing agency. A specialized agency, for example, might provide you with a more tailored service. If you come from a smaller organization with an intimate workplace culture, you may prefer working with a smaller agency that will be easily contactable, adapt to your needs, and make time for face-to-face meet-ups.

Inviting representatives from your staffing agency to your workplace can prove particularly valuable, helping them gain a better understanding of your workplace’s culture. On the other hand, a bigger and more established agency will undoubtedly have access to a larger pool of talent.

How does the staffing agency screen talent?

While it’s extremely satisfying to be able to outsource the arduous task of candidate screening, you want to make sure the staffing agency you choose is doing a thorough job. Different agencies will have different protocols for vetting their talent pool, which might include drug screening, skills, and behavioral assessments, and background and reference checks to confirm a candidate’s employment and education history. Some agencies might guarantee basic staffing background checks for their entire talent pool and offer additional screening for candidates once they have been offered a job.

Ultimately, when it comes to selecting a staffing agency, there’s no one size fits all approach. Just remember to think carefully about your needs and priorities and conduct thorough research before you make any final decisions.

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