Racing across Michigan with sleet pounding on my windshield as the last squirts of Splash run out of my Avis rental car's reservoir and with my head poking up and down trying to find some view of the road, I smile because it's worth it. 'It' being the staffing industry and in particular, the group of staffing companies and TempWorks employees I'll see on my 850 mile, four state tour.
My vision of the road may be cloudy, but my vision of a brutally efficient staffing industry couldn't be clearer. We have a shared vision, all of us who serve it or serve in it - that of seeking out every opportunity to make a better match. We take the unemployed or the under-employed, and we connect them with organizations desperately needing to deploy resources better. Our profits aren't just the premium on our risk, as Peter Drucker would have it. They're much more; they measure the good we do matching up employees with clients.
Governments throw unnecessary impediments in our way. Illinois just enacted a draconian daily labor law which, if enforced, would guarantee that legitimate labor shops would go away - the exact opposite of its intent. Pennsylvania changes its local payroll taxes more often than the Philidelphia Eagles get first downs.
But we in America have it good. For decades, many countries outlawed staffing. I'm not just talking about the Soviet Union which actually had its own covert temp exchange system (it's a common misconception that staffing was invented in the USA). "Da, da, camarade, I'll send over those 200 workers for three weeks if you let me have your dacha for the summer." Benevolent socialists in Sweden and France wreak havoc on the fluid labor markets necessary for common folk to find the best opportunities as the resulting cultural malaise of unemployment and apathy at least creates demand for vodka and pastis.
So I journey on, stopping in Ann Arbor to meet Bob, a kid we hired as a freshman who went on to develop our constructed search facility, who is now pursuing his PhD in artificial intelligence. We grab dinner at Zingerman's, an extraordinary restaurant that has become a University of Michigan sensation, and I'm floored by the creativity and energy the entrepreneurs put into their business.
The next day I'll visit four more prospective and existing clients - all of them pouring their hearts into their business - and I'm reminded again of how important it is for them to have the best information systems possible. It's mportant, not just for the success of my own company or for that of my clients, but for the example we set living in this most watched country of the world that a great staffing industry raises all boats.