Employee Happiness: The Key to a Competitive Advantage

At the beginning of the year, I predicted that the use of temporary employees would continue to rise as contingent labor becomes a permanent workforce management strategy. Since I wrote that post, the temporary staffing market has remained strong and shows signs of growth, particularly in light of next year’s implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

This increase in demand will likely bring even more competition to an already crowded marketplace. If your staffing agency wants to survive (and succeed) in that tough environment, you need to start preparing for it now by working on these top priorities:

  • differentiating your firm from others in your market

  • outvaluing your competition

  • strengthening your client relationships

Sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? Fortunately, at least one strategy can address all of those goals simultaneously: make your agency a “best place to work” for temporary employees.

I’ve written before about ways to stand apart from other staffing agencies and how to offer your client more value than your competition does. I’ve also written extensively about how to cultivate strong and mutually beneficial relationships with your clients. None of these efforts will help you, though, if your staff are subpar.

Your clients will keep coming back to you only if they can count on you to provide them with excellent employees. Too many companies focus on filling orders and putting a billable body in the seat—a practice that often results in both the employee and the client having a negative experience with the company. In the staffing industry, people are the product, so clearly you want to have the best people you can find. And when you find them, you want to treat them well so they’ll stick around.

After reading a recent post by a former Google contractor describing her tasks and workplace, I realized that the treatment of temporary employees is one of the most neglected topics in discussions about how to find the quality staff that can elevate an organization above its competitors. There’s a reason why a company proudly announces whenever it’s mentioned on a “best place to work” list: that status brings more candidates—including top talent—knocking on that company’s door.

Don’t underestimate the value of employee happiness! Happy employees are more productive and have higher retention rates—and their happiness is contagious. Happy employees make your clients happy. And happy clients mean more work orders for you. In short, employee happiness translates to a better bottom line for your staffing firm.

Making your agency a “best place to work” for temporary employees can give you an edge over the competition. Obviously, variables such as salaries, benefits, and work schedules all help determine whether employees consider an organization a “best place to work.” As you focus on cultivating that reputation for your staffing firm, though, you may want to consider extending to your temps some of the benefits and perks usually enjoyed only by permanent staff. And don’t forget other factors, such as making employees feel like valued members of a team, recognizing and rewarding accomplishments, and offering opportunities for growth and challenge.

Don’t wait to start planning for the long-term success of your organization, because the future will be here before you know it! The only staffing firms to thrive on an increasingly competitive field of contingent staffers will be those that successfully court and retain clients .  .  . by successfully courting and retaining quality employees.


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