We all know that staffers wear lots of hats. In my article about the typical life of a staffing professional I listed several duties that make working in our industry one of the most exciting, interesting, and, frankly, one of the craziest jobs out there. While that article was intended to be as broad and general as possible in order to convey the life of a ‘typical’ staffing professional, from the standpoint of things included and excluded it was far from exhaustive.

Of course, this is no cookie cutter job. Depending on the company, any staffing professional job description is going to be slightly and sometimes even significantly different. For example, some staffers are required to do outside sales. The general gig, however, remains the same – bringing talent and employers together. What Manpower, Kelly Services, or AtWork Personnel have their staffers do is likely to be similar at the core, but different on the periphery. (Did you like how I casually yet shamelessly lumped
my employer right in there with some of the largest, most recognizable staffing firms in the country? :) )

So, now that we’ve established that we’re running with the big dogs now, I’d like to dedicate the rest of this article to something that has worked really well for my particular corner of AtWork. This certainly isn’t something that I would expect to work for every company or branch (heck, we don’t even do it in every AtWork branch!), but since it’s worked so well for ours I think it’s certainly worth writing about.

Because the nature of the staffing professional role in and of itself is so varied, exhaustive, and chaotic, we decided to eliminate the peripheral, necessary-but-time-consuming duties that some other staffers are required to do, and instead have them focus on the things that are ‘closest to the money,’ namely the ‘general gig’ mentioned above, bringing talent and employers together. Consequently, although there are certainly times when everyone pulls together to get the job done, there are several things our staffers typically don’t do, including drug testing job prospects, checking references, directing traffic, or even answering the phones (unless the caller ID reveals their own client or someone they are trying to reach calling in).

This begs the question, of course – who accomplishes these tasks? Here in Bristol, Tennessee, and in some other AtWork offices large enough to justify it, we’ve greatly increased the role of the front line administrative assistant. In fact, in my office we have not one, but two admin assistants, each of whom are scheduled for 28 hours per week. One works from 8AM-3PM (with one afternoon off during the week) and the other works from 10AM-5PM (with one morning off during the week). This not only provides overlap during the busiest times, but also allows for front line coverage when one or the other is off.

Our admins are truly a key cog in our office. They work as a team and do a variety of things – answer phones, screen calls, direct traffic, place prospects on our system availability list, perform housekeeping, dispatch processing, and more. These days, because of the sheer volume of items required, dispatch processing alone has become a tremendous chore. There are drug tests, reference checks, and making sure that not only does the applicant complete all online and paper forms required, but also that all paper forms are scanned and uploaded to the proper applicant file.

When a staffer has to take an hour and a half to go and process a dispatch, or deal with a persistent sales person at the door, or answer the twelfth telemarketing call, they aren’t screening, calling, and interviewing candidates. They aren’t interacting with our clients. They aren’t filling job orders. In sum, they aren’t making the money it takes to keep us all in business.

It takes everyone to run a successful office, but it begins and ends with the staffer. Anything any of us can do to support the people doing the duties ‘closest to the money’ – and keep them plugging away for as much of their workday as possible – is tremendously worthwhile.

Using this model, we’ve found that a solid, organized, self-motivated staffer can run several thousand hours and be much happier and less stressed while doing so. And, to top it all off, employing two part- time admins is actually far less expensive than employing one extra staffing professional.

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the way a staffing office is run. Our model might work for some and might not work for others. Ultimately you have to make the decision that best fits your volume, your clients, and your culture.

What organizational model do you use in your staffing office? Do you feel that it works well for you or would you be open to trying something different?