By BECKY GILLETTE
Demand is high for workers placed by staffing firms. Mississippi firms providing temporary staffing services are reporting business is up due to a variety of different factors.
“We are extremely busy right now,” said Carolyn Boteler, owner and president of TempStaff in Jackson. “One of the major factors affecting us is the low unemployment rate. That affects us in that there are not a lot of people available for temporary assignments. But that does open the door for high demand for employees from a permanent employment standpoint. There are a lot of opportunities for permanent jobs because there are not as many people who are unemployed.”
While the recent hurricanes increased unemployment in areas where businesses were destroyed, the disasters have also created some jobs. Boteler said they have set up some call centers for disaster projects.
Because of low unemployment, Boteler said what businesses will normally see is that their recruits come from people changing jobs rather than people who don’t have a job.
“That is where the source of people to interview comes from, people willing to make job changes,” Boteler said. “And you find that more common with the younger generations. Baby boomers have maybe only had three jobs in their lifetimes. The younger generations, the Gen Y, Gen X and millennials in the marketplace, change jobs a lot more often that the baby boomers.”
Boteler said older people in the workforce are being challenged to change their thought processes about technology. Everything is computerized. Some people don’t like smart phones, but you can hardly function without a smart phone in today’s business environment.
“Everything is done on your smart phone,” Boteler said. “In the past 10 years we have gone from paper to completely paperless in our office. We have people who text us and email us with orders now instead of the old-fashioned way of calling. We actually have employees who fill out online applications on their cell phones. We will send out a blast email when we need lots of people to work on a project, or send a group text out on our software. It is just another way of communication.”
She said it can save time to text. Someone might not be able to call you back, but they will text you.
Social media has affected how employers make hires. Boteler said many employers will look at a potential employee’s Facebook page to make sure there is nothing on there that would be detrimental to the company.
One trend in temp staffing services today is that most businesses are looking for long-term staffing.
“The days of an employer wanting someone for one to two days, we don’t get a lot of that,” Boteler said. “Long-term is what I’m seeing at our company.”
Monique Bouyer Mosley, MBA, general manager, Professional Staffing Group, Jackson, said another trend is for contract workers who work remotely.
“Most of remote workers are highly skilled professionals,” Mosley said. “It would be more specialized work. For example, one client needs special technicians to do reading of research reports. Whether an employee can work remotely depends on the client and what the client’s needs are.”
She said a lot of experienced talent is looking for flexible work schedules and may be more interested in contract work than in full-time employment. They might use a temp staff firm to work only a certain number of months per year and then have time to follow their passions.
“You see that a lot with information technology professionals, but it is also expanding into other areas, as well,” Mosley said. “It is also common with retired or semi-retired professionals who don’t want to work a 40-hour work week, but are highly skilled in a special field to put themselves out there to work on special projects part-time. We also get calls for retired chief financial officers or human resource directors needed in the interim until the company is able to hire someone full-part.”
Then there are people who are professional temps. These are generally higher skilled and higher paid professions. Jane Sanders-Waugh, JD, owner of Professional Staffing Group, said an example is legal secretaries and paralegals. Because of their skills, they can float around various firms to cover medical and pregnancy leaves, or fill in when there is a big litigation case and extra hands are needed.
Sanders-Waugh said overall, the contract and temp sector has been consistently growing every quarter for the past few years.
“Firms are looking for more flexible staffing solutions, and that includes the industrial sector,” she said. “As you see more temporary workers going into disaster relief, you will see some spikes ahead.”
Temp-to-hire workers are recruited for clients who want to try them in a particular position to see if they are a good fit, Sanders-Waugh said another reason more companies are going temp-to-hire these days is because the employer may not have the expertise to recruit in today’s market because it has changed so much in the past five years.
“You can no longer just post an advertisement online to identify a new employee,” Sanders-Waugh said.
She said firms like hers review resumes, screen potential employees and save employers a lot of time.
Natalie Bement, director of operations, EMI Staffing in Grenada, said they also convert a large percentage of their employees from temporary to permanent.
“It allows companies to ensure the right fit at the right time for their organization,” Bement said. “We always consider this a good thing when we see our employees getting hired full-time.”
Bement said business is continuing to grow consistently.
“The demand is continuing to increase at the entry level positions all the way up to executive level placement and we are seeing this across all industries,” she said. “Summer is always our busiest time of year. However, most companies are no longer seasonal as they once were.”
Bement said they have been able to attract higher caliber employees by offering medical, vision, short-term disability and life insurance.
“We were fortunate enough several years back to partner with a company that allows us to offer benefits under the umbrella of Blue Cross and Blue Shield,” she said.