You’ve heard of staffing organizations, of course—but ‘alternative’ staffing organizations? So, is that just a different way of running a staffing agency?
Actually, yes—and there’s new research that proves that Alternative Staffing organizations, or ASOs, are better equipped to provide quality service for entry-level worker positions than many ‘regular’ staffing agencies.
First things first: ASOs are businesses that place temporary and temp-to-hire employees into jobs for business customers, with the dual agenda of both providing a quality service for the customer and helping a specific under-served demographic of job seekers find successful employment. For example, EMERGE Staffing of Minneapolis, MN focuses on providing staffing solutions for its customers while simultaneously working to provide economic self-sufficiency for its associates. DePaul Industries focuses on flexible outsourcing solutions for its customers while simultaneously serving people with disabilities who face barriers to employment. Essentially, these businesses are where ‘mission and market meet’. There’s no compromise of the market side in order to serve the mission side—in fact, the mission side enhances the market side, as we’ll explain below.
A new study from the Center for Social Policy at UMass Boston, “Why Use the Services of Alternative Staffing Organizations: Perspectives from Customer Businesses,” highlights ASOs from the perspective of the business customers they work with—in other words, the ‘market’ side of things. The report finds that though most business customers select the ASO as their staffing vendor based solely on the quality of their services, the customers do recognize that the mission side of things drives the quality of service they receive. For instance, “… ASOs provide a higher quality staffing service for entry-level, low wage workers because ASOs, themselves, need the worker to succeed.” The mission side of an ASO drives the quality of the service up on the market side in an indirect manner by paying more attention to qualities and abilities of the job candidate, more heavily screening candidates, more accurately matching candidate qualifications to job qualifications, and more carefully communicating with both the candidate and the employer to ensure success for both parties. Indeed, as the report points out, ‘regular’ staffing agencies and recruitment firms perform these functions to a degree and, of course, advertise for them. However, due to the investment made by ASOs in the candidates they serve and their specialized knowledge of the populations they work with, ASOs can more accurately and consistently deliver the quality described above.
We’re not ruling out that some companies might find great appeal in the fact that ASOs have a dual focus and this ‘social’ side to them—in fact, many do. However, that’s not the reason businesses are engaging with them: They need their bottom line met, and they’re relying on the ASOs to do just that. The reason that the businesses engage ASOs is “because its approach to job brokering services is distinctive, adds value to the performance of their business, and also connects to the improvement of economic conditions in the community where they are located.” In other words, ASOs get the job done better for everybody and create tangible, economic benefits for their business customers.
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