Temporary staffing agencies operate like businesses they supply

November 12, 2003|EMILY TOADVINE

Posters about determination, goals and teamwork hang in the waiting room at Nesco, one of Danville temporary staffing agencies. A newsletter on a bulletin board encourages employees to submit their recipes for a cookbook that is being compiled. The bulletin board also posts names of employees of the month.

All these projects and the posters designed to motivate employees are part of Nesco's philosophy.

"We try to do what we can to mirror what an industry would do," says Joanne Prewitt, office manager, noting that activities include perfect attendance drives and raising funds for United Way.

After all, with 400 people employed through Nesco's Hustonville Road office, Prewitt says it should function like any other business.

"We are basically running a mini-industry," says Prewitt, who started with the company seven years ago when it located in Harrodsburg to help staff Hitachi.

The situation is similar at CBS, which opened a branch on Danville's Main Street a year and half ago. It employs 300 to 350 people, says Tilly Sain, branch manager. The business that started in 1970 has 75 offices in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. A poster in the CBS waiting room invites potential employees to "Discover the wide world of staffing" and notes that it covers the fields of financial, scientific, office, construction, technical, sales and marketing, transportation and medical.


In Danville, the majority of work CBS staffs is at factories and the company has two on-site managers because of the large number of employees at two factories. Other types of jobs also are filled, Sain says.

"It could be temporary odd jobs like material handling or landscaping. We had a lot of nursery jobs like planting flowers. Distribution was one of our biggest this year."

Positions the Danville Nesco office staffs range anywhere from engineering to assemblers on factory assembly lines. The company works with about 25 businesses. It relies on an office staff of nine, of which three are on-site at factories, and does its own recruiting.

"The newspaper and word of mouth are our two biggest avenues," Prewitt says.

The Danville office - one of five in Kentucky and 40 across the nation - must be doing a good job. Prewitt says it is rated No. 1 in the country of the Nesco offices.

A slower economy has bolstered the demand for temporary agencies, Prewitt says.

"Nowadays, it's the way to go," she says.

Although Nesco has existed since 1956, she thinks hiring a temporary work force has become a common occurrence at factories since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"After Sept. 11, production still went on but because of instability, industries didn't want to hire a full-time labor force."

Many times, factories need temporary workers to meet demands during peak seasons.

"It's more cost-effective than to have to lay people off," Prewitt says.

A typical temporary position might last 90 days, but Nesco tries to inform potential employees about the length of employment.

"We are very honest with our employees. We say, 'Hey, this is going to last two weeks or this is going to go 90 days,'" she says, noting that sometimes placement is to fill in for sick workers or someone on maternity leave.

Anyone considering working for Nesco can expect the application process to take an hour. Anyone seeking clerical or professional work will take additional tests. A personal interview is conducted.

"We take an extra 10 or 15 minutes to get to know the person," Prewitt says.

If a business needs to fill a position that an applicant is interested in, then that person will be called back for an orientation.

"We feel like the more hoops you put a person through before you put them to work, the more likely they are to show up for work," she says.

If hired, the company does not charge the employees any fees.

The best situation for Prewitt is when her employees say good-bye. "I want my employees to go full time. I feel like I've accomplished my job."

Nesco employee Samuel Bess of Harrodsburg has not yet managed to be hired full-time, but he does credit Nesco with keeping him supplied with a paycheck.

For eight months he has worked at Pliant. When ATR closed, he lost a job he had for about four months. Nesco found work for him.

"When I got laid off and went and told them, they had me back to work in less than a week," says Bess, who was concerned about earning money to support himself and his three children. Bess, 53, was named Nesco's employee of the year.

Sain agrees that permanent placement is the goal of her company.

"The joy I get out of this job is to place someone in the perfect position."

CBS tries to ensure that situation by making employees aware of the job requirements from the beginning. They hold orientations for groups of 10 or fewer people.

"We tell the hours, the pay and any incentives," she says, noting that the potential workers receive printed material about jobS, including any safety gear they need.

The temporary agencies do offer benefits to employees and Sain says they often take advantage of the offerings, especially medical insurance.

"We have tons of employees that sign up on this insurance," she says.

She thinks temporary em-ployment provides an important trial time to both the worker and employer. The worker may be glad that the situation is temporary.

"A lot of times they don't like it. They say, 'I didn't like that company. It wasn't what I thought it would be.'"

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