The Potential Pitfalls of Using More Than One Staffing Agency

When it comes to the nuts and bolts of a staffing office, our clients truly are in charge. However you want us to service your account, we’ll gladly comply and do the very best we can to exceed your expectations as a client.

But there are several possible staffing arrangements that can affect the level of service you get, and it has nothing to do with how hard the staffing agency tries to service the account.

To get started, here are the three main staffing arrangements:

  1. Exclusive – one staffing vendor, one client.
  2. Main service provider and one or more backups – who are called only when the main service provider cannot fill every order.
  3. Concurrent service providers – operating independently of one another servicing one account.

From my experience, the first or even the second type pose no major potential problems. While we’d certainly love to be the exclusive provider in as many places as we can, we gladly serve as backups in others and have even used that role as a way to prove our worth and work our way up.

The third option, however, has several potential pitfalls. Of course, the client is the boss and we’ll serve in whatever capacity we’re asked to serve and we’ll do the absolute best we can (hey, we’ve clawed our way to the top of the pack this way too!), but hiring managers need to be aware of the structural issues involved in this arrangement, issues that exist outside of our intention to do as good a job as possible in whatever capacity we are utilized.

While there are obviously other factors at play, such as company size, that would negate this, I would respectfully argue that it is better for a client to utilize one capable (KEY word being capable!) agency rather than multiple ones at the same time.

Here are five key reasons why:

It’s the same pool of people

While I would argue that our recruiting efforts reach far more people than the average agency, from a recruiting standpoint chances are most job seekers in a given area, if they’ve registered with one, have registered with almost every other staffing agency in town. So, if you utilize two or ten staffing agencies, you aren’t going to get two or ten times the qualified applicants. And even if you were, there are other problems that would come with that (see below).

Confusion reigns

Multiple staffing agencies in a business means a certain level of confusion, and multiple chances for errors. Instead of one rep, you have two or three who all mean well, but all will recruit and process their people differently, even if you have specified how you want your orientation to be. With one agency rep, you have consistency across the board. If the person is a temp, they deal with that rep, period. You don’t have to keep track of who is with who. If something was missed, you know who to blame and how to fix it. And if there is an invoicing error, there is one source to fix it and get it right consistently going forward.

Unequal treatment

Why? Because agencies are different! You may specify exactly what your entry level workers will make, but some agencies offer insurance, while others don’t. And the ones that do pay different amounts toward employee plans. Some agencies will charge their temps for drug tests and background checks, while others don’t. Some agencies have vacation and holiday pay, while others don’t. You get the picture.

And even more relevant to you – some agencies may even let that questionable drug test or horrible reference check pass because they want to place a temp and beat their competition, while others will do the right thing and disqualify that person for your account. And here’s the kicker – what’s to stop that same job seeker from walking across the street and registering with another agency and getting in your door? Nothing, that’s what! (More on this below.)

The thing is, when you utilize different agencies, you are unintentionally but still very much treating your entry-level employees differently, and as a result you AND your workers may end up on the raw end of the deal.

You actually get a lower quality employee

Sadly, it’s a common occurrence for our staffers to be on site at a client and run into a temp from another agency who, just before signing with them, blew it with us in one way or another, whether through a failed drug test, walking off a job, or even severely misbehaving at another client. If it’s something really bad we’ll tell the client, of course, but generally our hands are tied in these situations because we don’t want to appear vindictive, petty, or be a tattle-tale.

Additionally, competition is a good thing, but when it’s manufactured seemingly just for the purpose of creating competition it also, for better or for worse, creates an incentive to cut corners. It would never happen with our agency, of course, but this can often result in your getting a lower quality worker than you may otherwise get.

You actually may get fewer workers

It may be counter-intuitive, but put yourself in a staffing manager’s shoes. You have 10 job orders each at two different clients, one of which is exclusive and one is serviced by two or more different agencies. In a limited supply situation, which jobs would YOU fill first, the one that is counting on you or the one where the other agency may very well beat you to the punch as soon as you get your person processed and ready to go?

The Choice – Deal with a reputable agency (shameless plug coming … like Luttrell Staffing Group!! … end shameless plug) that has the locations, the resolve, and the resources to recruit the MOST people for your account, that understands your standards and is willing to bend over backwards to please you as a customer, and that has a solid community reputation and a proven track record of being good to their employees. It won’t always be smooth sailing, but it’ll sure be a lot better than the alternative!