High Performance Staffing

by Marcianne Kuethen
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Have a key employee on disability? Call in a temp! Need a few extra hands to get through a big project? Call in a temp…or two…or ten!

Nearly every company in the United States understands what a “temp” is and how temporary staff can be used to fill-in for gaps in the workforce. According to the American Staffing Association, over 90% of U.S. businesses use temporary help each year.

But what you may not know is that temporaries can be used for much more than just “fill-ins.” Saavy companies are transforming their staffing function into a true source of competitive advantage…using temporary employees in creative ways to drive revenues and increase productive capacity.

Here are three stories from true masters of “high performance staffing.”

National Product Rollout
When you think of massage chairs, what comes to mind? Typically you see these high tech “toys for the rich” in places like Brookstone and The Sharper Image. Well, when one of the manufacturers of these chairs decided it wanted to begin distributing their chairs through traditional furniture retailers, they found themselves with a real dilemma on their hands.

The Challenge:
The manufacturer’s challenge was not getting retailers interested. In fact, after attending a furniture trade show, over 180 stores from all over the country signed up to sell the chairs. The real problem was getting local furniture sales reps to sell the chairs—they didn’t know how to sell this kind of product. Rather than let sales slide, the manufacturer, who did not have a national sales team or a training program, decided to get creative.

The manufacturer contacted a staffing firm to set-up a national Product Rollout Team—a group that would travel the country providing face-to-face training sessions for the furniture sales reps. To further complicate matters, all the training would have to be provided on weekends since that was the best time to meet with furniture sales reps.

The staffing firm immediately began recruiting Rollout Specialists. To their surprise, they discovered that the best candidates were not those who had training or sales experience. The best candidates came from the entertainment industry. They were people with dynamic presentation skills, and since many aspiring actors are looking for ways to earn extra money, they were very willing to take on the challenge of national travel and conducting weekend training sessions.

After subjecting candidates to an extensive evaluation process, the staffing firm selected five finalists for the Product Rollout Team and worked with the manufacturer to develop a logistical plan for the implementation of the national training program.

The Result:
After 6 months in the field, the Rollout Specialists have had a dramatic positive impact on massage chair sales, and the manufacturer is extremely happy! In fact, they recently expanded the team with two more Rollout Specialists and are planning on continuing the product rollout training program for many months to come. As this manufacturer discovered, staffing firms can be true partners in their clients’ success!


Hiring Freeze…and New Opportunities
It’s an all too common catch-22. A business cuts back, puts freezes on spending, and just then a new opportunity arrives. The business can’t spend due to the lack of business and it can’t take on new business because of its inability to spend.

The Challenge:
That’s exactly the situation facing a division of a large manufacturing company. Due to the recession, the corporate headquarters imposed a strict hiring freeze. Soon after the freeze was put in place, the company had a major increase in business thanks to the introduction of a new product. But because of the freeze, the company was prohibited from hiring additional employees to meet the demand.

Initially, the company asked its employees to work overtime. While that improved their productive capacity, the excessive labor costs due to the overtime expenses were damaging the company financially. To make matters worse, all the long-hours and stress were taking a toll on worker morale. But what else could the company do?

The manufacturer decided to contact a staffing firm for a solution. The firm suggested using qualified temporary workers to help process orders and meet deadlines. By using temporary workers on a day-to-day basis they would not be violating the hiring freeze, and since the cost of the temporaries was about 30% less than the cost of overtime, the company would actually save a significant amount of money by using temps.

At the suggestion of the staffing company, temporary workers were also put in place to call customers to get missing information necessary to process the orders more efficiently.

The Result:
In the end, using temporary help allowed the manufacturer to meet customer demand, reduce overtime expense, and process orders more efficiently. They were also able to increase sales and volume because the work was getting done in a timely manner.

Low Performing Department

The Challenge:
An electronics wholesaler had a need for a temporary administrative assistant due to a medical disability. The problem wasn’t finding someone with the right skill set, but finding someone who could survive in a dysfunctional department.

In placing the request for a temporary, the company’s HR Manager noted that the department was low-performing and filled with many difficult personalities. According to the HR Manager, the workers preferred to gossip rather than work, the department was not very productive, and they had already experienced a high turnover in temporaries. Because of past staffing problems, the workload was piling up, and they could not afford to waste more time locating the right person through trial and error.

Before initiating a candidate search, the staffing service first developed a behavioral profile of the troublesome department. They asked detailed questions to better understand the work environment and the traits of the kind of person who could succeed in this environment. Using the profile information, the staffing firm conducted an in-depth search and identified a candidate who was used to working hard, was capable of turning out a high volume of work, and who was pleasant, but not chatty.

The Result:

The temporary proved to be an example for the department. She worked diligently and with little chatter. The HR Manager let the staffing service know that the department had begun to turn around. The manager felt this was a result of the temporary employee’s example. Productivity in this once-troubled department was at an all time high. Unproductive gossip was cut back to a minimum. The company saved money by eliminating turnover and increasing productivity. And to no one’s surprise, the company offered the temporary a permanent job…they weren’t going to let go of such a valuable employee!

Your Turn for High Performance Staffing?
Hopefully these stories have shown that there are more benefits to using a staffing firm beyond simply “filling-in.” The next time you have a difficult situation in your workforce, contact a staffing company and see what suggestions they can offer. You might be amazed at what a few temporary workers can do for your company’s performance!

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