By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
The current economy represents one of the nation’s toughest time to fill positions, according to the US Chamber of Commerce.
“In 2021, businesses added an unprecedented 3.8 million jobs,” the organization’s website states. “But at the same time, workforce participation remains below pre-pandemic levels, meaning we have 3.4 million fewer Americans working today compared to February of 2020.”
Numerous factors play into the why, but what employers focus on is the what: what do we do to find enough workers to fill openings and grow? Many companies are turning to temporary agencies.
“We have more orders than you can imagine,” said Carol R. Fletcher, president of C.R. Fletcher Associates, Inc. in Syracuse. “Clients seeking staff are coming from all industries. There is a shortage of candidates. It’s our job to find them, screen them and make sure they’ll stick. Companies don’t have the time to do that.”
Since the pandemic, many companies have reduced staff in human resources. This has exacerbated the problem of finding workers for other roles in the company.
“We can take away the hours of searching and following up on references,” said Joanne Rauch, executive recruiter and vice president at C.R. Fletcher. “We send only candidates that are qualified and meet their specs. We use a different network than what they have posting an ad. We recruit rather than wait for people to apply for ads.”
For Felix Schoeller North America, Inc. in Pulaski, temporary agencies have helped in filling some roles such as material packing for busy times and even some full-time roles.
“We’ve had success with that,” said Andy Clements, vice president of operations. “We have a successful relationship with Staffworks to keep our lines running right through the pandemic to today. We’ve been using temp agencies forever.”
The company has 50 salaried employees and nearly 50 union workers on the production floor. About 20 to 30 employees are Staffworks associates.
While bringing in outside workers through staffing agencies keeps Felix Schoeller humming, it does have a few drawbacks, such as inconsistency with filling day-to-day roles.
“We may not have enough hours in a week,” Clements said. “Even though they’re temp workers, they want a set number of hours. Some of our lines are inconsistent at time. There may be expectations set with the staffing agency and we may not be able to meet them.”
As with any worker, it takes time to train them to the role. Temporary workers have much more turnover compared with regular hires. Despite the drawbacks of using temporary workers, Clements said that the benefits far outweigh the setbacks.
“The biggest thing is flexibility,” he said. “With our machines and lines, flexibility is key. We need to be able to rotate people to different machines as needed. Staffworks allows us to do to that. Each week is different. That flexibility allows us to man the machines.”
He advises any employer who wants to work with a temporary agency to try to find a local organization. He said this has helped Felix Schoeller find workers from Pulaski. Companies lacking a local temporary agency should shop around to find the right agency.
“They each have their own ways of finding people,” he said. “Don’t settle on the first one you look at. Compare to two or three different agencies.”
With the open contract for workers on the production floor, he can use more than one agency at the same time.
Michelle Jevis, director of human resources and staffing at C.R. Fletcher, said that the fluctuations in a business’ demand can make working with a temporary staffing company helpful.
“Some companies might bring on a percent of their workforce as temporary workers to see how some do,” she said. “They may take on some as a test to see if they’ll rise to the occasion.”