Voice of the Candidate: Temporary Workers Reveal the Best and Worst of Staffing Agencies

Voice of the Candidate: Temporary Workers Reveal the Best and Worst of Staffing Agencies

In a recent report, Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) asked staffing firm temporary workers to rate their current agency on a scale of 0-10, and reveal their primary reasons for that rating. Here are the common trends they reported:

What Temporary Workers Want

People with Speech BubblesAmong those who rated their agency a “10,” temporary workers noted the following two main drivers that set their staffing agency above the rest:

Outstanding customer service/fast problem resolution.
Surveyed contract workers highlighted several different facets of receiving great customer service from the staffing organizations they work with, including promptness, reliability, friendliness, and a genuine interest in placing them in a role they wanted. Additionally, temporary workers highlighted instances where recruiters helped solve any issues candidates were having with a job, including negotiating pay with employers to obtain the best possible salary.

Notable Temporary Worker Quote: “Warm and caring atmosphere, great follow-up during the interview process for positions. This is, by far, the best, most professional [staffing] agency I’ve worked with.”

Happy placement/good fit/keeps jobs coming.
Another factor satisfied temporary workers focused on was how apt their staffing agency was about finding them jobs that best fit their skill sets/background, and matched their career goals. Further, several surveyed workers stated that the jobs were ones that provided long-term or temp-to-hire positions, paid well, and set them up for a life-long career.

Notable Temporary Worker Quote: “I wish friends and colleagues the same good fortune of being matched with the perfect job—that’s what this agency did for me.”


What Turns Them Off

For temporary workers that gave their agency a “0,” they highlighted these four primary reasons for doing so:

Poor communication.
Temporary workers commented on lapses in communication throughout various stages of the placement process, including having a hard time getting a recruiter on the phone to answer questions, and only hearing back regarding back-office requirements and upon assignment ending. One worker also said that when their recruiter left, the staffing agency failed to notify them and it took over a month to respond to emails.

Notable Temporary Worker Quote: “My assignment was ended by the employer, and they didn’t even tell me until after I worked an extra shift.”

Compensation issues.
While the title of this category may make it sound like the jobs provided didn’t pay enough, in reality, surveyed contractors believed they were either owed money by the company or the staffing firm, or that it took too long to get paid. As such, this topic revealed feelings of mistrust towards their staffing agencies—citing instances where temporary workers felt lied to about their pay rates, or that recruiters led them through the hiring process under false pretenses.

Notable Temporary Worker Quote: “[The staffing agency] tells you your pay rate; and then when the client is ready to hire you, they tell you the client has cut their budget.”

Not enough work.
In addition to having issues with gigs falling through on short notice or no notice at all, surveyed contract workers said they felt misled by their staffing firms about the availability of work (e.g. waiting more than two months to receive an assignment).

Notable Temporary Worker Quote: “They hired me under the premise that there was work in my area. After jumping through so many hoops, I was hired on. Surprise! There’s no work in my area.”

Poor treatment/agency incompetency.
Last but not least, rudeness, inexperience, lack of industry knowledge, and HR issues were all noted amongst workers who scored their staffing agency at “0.” The overall feeling of not caring about temporary workers, as well as the prioritization of simply filling roles over finding a good fit for candidates, were also evident via surveyed responses.

Notable Temporary Worker Quote: “Staff does not care about temps. We’re butts in seats. They tell you the assignment is a great place to be; then once you’re in, they won’t address anything.”


While it’s clear that some of these factors are not within a staffing agency’s control, knowing what candidates want and expect can be a valid tool for retaining talent, ensuring client satisfaction, and possibly receiving referrals. Temporary workers can serve as your staffing firm’s biggest advocate, and by finding ways you can better serve them and be a strategic partner, the better chances you have of reaching your own personal business goals!

Source: Staffing Industry Analysts, “Temporary Worker Survey 2018 & Cumulative Index to 2012-2017 Surveys.”