Staffing firms adjust worker placement

Sean F. Driscoll

Before Christmas, LoRayne Logan saw the economic writing on the wall: She was going to have to lay off some employees.

Logan, president of staffing firm Workplace, eventually decided two workers would have to be let go. So she did what any good staffing exec does — she helped them find new jobs.

“I leveled with them and said ‘I want to get you out of the storm,’ ” she said. “I told them I (thought) they could get laid off, and I wanted them to consider new jobs. They were smart enough to take them.”

With fewer companies in the hiring mood, job placement agencies like Logan’s are feeling the pinch of a tightening economy. The companies make their money when they place someone with a company or are able to arrange a direct hire, so fewer jobs means less revenue.

“We’re just so concerned about the absence of employment out there,” Logan said.

Staffing firms that are in trouble need to retool their services, said Conrad Taylor, president of the National Association of Personnel Services.

Wisconsin-based staffing firm QPS, which has a Rockford office, has started offering outplacement services to its clients, which are largely blue-collar firms. Jim Roy, a regional vice president for QPS, said the goal is to help 20- and 30-year workers who have never had to look for a job.

“These are people who can’t use a traditional method to find a job and they need the support of someone who knows what they’re doing,” he said.

Interest in the service, which started in January, has been high. But Roy said actual contracts for the work have been low so far.

“The majority of firms we’ve been in discussion with are firms that are facing their own economic challenges,” he said. “They’re laying workers off because they can’t afford to keep them and they don’t have the resources to enroll with us. ... Honestly, we’ll work with them at whatever fee structure fits their budget. We’re not looking at this as a new, hard-driving revenue division.”

Sean F. Driscoll can be reached at (815) 987-1346 orsdriscoll@rrstar.com.