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The Better Alternative to Construction Staffing

The Better Alternative to Construction Staffing

As we talked about in our Construction Workforce post, managing your construction workforce can be tricky because of fluctuating project needs, high employee turnover rates, and how long it can take to find quality candidates. That’s why, for decades, construction companies have repeatedly turned to staffing agencies to meet their manpower needs. But there are many reasons that you should be hiring workers directly, instead of through a staffing company.

Staffing Agencies during WWII

The staffing agency model has been around for decades in the US, but really became popular during WWII and immediately afterwards. One major reason that companies have used staffing agencies throughout time was to fill a large number of positions in a short period of time. So when over 16 million Americans were called to serve in WWII, there were a number of jobs that needed to be backfilled by those not going to war.

Staffing agencies stepped up to the challenge by compiling filing cabinets full of as many open jobs and as many resumes of available workers as they could find. They provided both temporary placement (known as staffing) and direct-hire, full-time placement (known as recruiting). And having companies who were focused full time on replacing employees who went to fight in the war was a huge relief to companies who were suddenly without much of their workforce.

Following the war, there were a number of large, engineering-heavy projects (many of them private-public partnerships) that required hundreds of engineers, such as the Apollo Lunar Module, Boeing 747, and Hubble Space Telescope to name a few. And because of the way that government spending would be approved suddenly or the way federal projects were awarded, these projects often required a quick ramp-up in the workforce to meet a tight deadline.

So again staffing agencies would step in to recruit as many qualified engineers as possible in as short a time as possible. This helped the US government and companies working with the government to develop new military and aerospace technology at speeds unmatched in the rest of the world, all without having to commit to employing these engineers after the projects were completed.

All that makes staffing agencies sound like a great benefit to America’s development, which they were. But there were a number of drawbacks as well, and a number of reasons why the model is outdated today.

Where Staffing Agencies Fall Short

During those times, engineers were able to make decent money designing for the war effort or for other military and aerospace projects. But their contracts were short-term, often provided little to no job benefits, and caused engineers to live a transient lifestyle away from their families. On top of that, engineers received little to no additional training to progress them in their careers. After all, why would a company spend extra time and money training an employee who won’t work there in a few months?

The hardest part came at the end of a contract, when employees would call the staffing agencies who helped to hire them, asking where their next assignment would come from. And if the agency didn’t have another position available, those employees would end up back home with gaps in pay, looking for their next opportunity.

So if you’re a contract employee who travels more, receives less training, no advancement opportunities, isn’t working towards a pension or other savings plan, and has less job security than a “company man,” you can see why you would gravitate towards being hired as a full time employee instead. That means staffing agencies over time had access to fewer and fewer candidates who truly met the needs of their clients.

For all of those reasons, we see the same effect today in the construction industry, in which staffing agencies are great for no-experience, temporary needs. But as soon as your needs call for a skilled workforce, you should be looking to hire directly. If you’ve worked with a staffing agency for skilled positions in the past, you have probably felt this yourself when a worker shows up who doesn’t exactly meet your needs.

The Ladder Solution

But we get it. The reasons to turn to a staffing agency for help have existed in construction for far too long. It’s difficult to reach quality workers, even harder to evaluate quality through the outdated resume process, and cumbersome and expensive to interview and onboard them once you do find them. We shortcut all that so that you can get the best of both worlds: directly hiring full-time employees significantly faster than you could by just posting to online job boards.

Ladder specializes in filling your workforce needs with high-quality, experienced workers. Think of us as an automated construction recruiter. We provide the benefits that staffing agencies provide, matching your openings to the qualified candidates. The difference is that you provide the company culture, job security, advancement opportunities, and company benefits that employees wouldn’t get if working a contract or temp job.

Ready to transform your workforce by hiring higher quality employees? Book a demo today and we will show you what a difference the power of automated recruiting can make.

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