Debunked. Fake News in Staffing

As People Store’s regional sales manager, I’ve been fortunate to enjoy a career that allows me to build and develop relationships with some of South Western Ontario’s most prominent employers. 

I am proud of the work that we do, and the role that we play in acting as a stepping stone for people who are looking to create a better life for themselves. As recruiters, we have been given the incredible opportunity to network with some of the most influential and talented businesses and people across North America. We play a small (but very essential) role in crafting partnerships that drive a lasting impact.

I have been in the staffing and recruitment industry for nearly fifteen years, and during that time I have seen countless men and women build lifelong careers based on a single introduction from a recruiter and, of course, their own drive to succeed.

Still, despite the rewarding and beneficial services that those employed in the industry provide there are still people who, when told that we work in temporary staffing or head-hunting, will look at us with such disdain that you would think we just kicked a bag of kittens or told their grandmother that her prized Apple Brown Betty tasted like shoe rubber.

Why is this? It comes largely as a result of something that mainstream media has coined as fake news: Propaganda consisting of deliberate disinformation spread through traditional news outlets, in conversation or online through social media.

Misinformation is Everywhere

Over the years, I’ve heard some pretty outlandish accusations and proclamations. Often, the craziest remarks come from people with an otherwise impressive list of educational and scholastic accolades. It’s remarkable what people will choose to believe.

  • “Staffing agencies take a ‘cut’ of the worker’s pay.”
  • “Staffing agencies take advantage of the ‘working stiff.’”
  • “You will never get a full-time job, with benefits, if you go through a staffing agency.”
  • “It’s modern day slavery.”
  • “Burn all the staffing agencies to the ground! They should be illegal.”   

This isn’t to say that seedy, fly-by-night agencies who pay cash or skirt their responsibilities to their employees and the government don’t exist. They do and it’s deplorable, but thankfully they are rare.

It’s human nature to fear what we don’t understand. This is why I typically try to encourage people to educate themselves on industry regulations and how the staffing industry really works before they pick up their pitchforks and join the mob of angry townsfolk trying to abolish something they don’t fully comprehend.

Education is Key

Did you know that we don’t set hourly wages? Nor do we claw back a percentage of our temporary associates pay. We may offer our clients suggestions as to what a reasonable salary in the current market might look like, but, ultimately, it’s up to them to decide what rate of pay makes sense for their operating budgets.  It’s our clients who pay for our services – not our workers. We would never take advantage of the people who are out there every day keeping the wheels of our organization moving forward. Not only would that be unethical, it’s bad for business. People don’t typically show up for work if you steal from them – and they certainly don’t refer you to their friends.

Okay, but if the company is paying the staffing agency $32 per hour and they are paying the temporary worker $16 per hour, couldn’t they just cut out the middleman and pay the worker $32 per hour? In a perfect world, of course they could. But, this isn’t a perfect world and they aren’t paying the staffing agency $32 per hour. It’s a common misconception that the agency is paid double the rate of hourly pay, but they are more likely being paid somewhere around $24 per hour. And, even that is a stretch.

Sure, but that still leaves an additional $8 that they could just be paying to the worker. Right? Sorry, wrong again. Regardless of who is signing paycheques at the end of the week, there are still things like vacation pay, EHT, and taxes to account for. Because, let’s face it, the government doesn’t care who sends them their money, as long as someone does. And that doesn’t even factor in things like the cost of doing business, job ads, electricity bills. It all has to come from somewhere.

There’s More to it Than Money

The reality of it is, we don’t work with the kind of inflated profit margins that some people think we do. In fact, there are situations where we literally earn pennies on the hour. I can’t speak for every recruiter, account manager, or client representative out there. But, for many of us, we don’t do this for the money – We do it because we genuinely take pride in keeping our communities working.

There will always be people who, for their own misinformed reasons, view the staffing industry as the lowest of the low. If you happen to fall into this camp and are even slightly open-minded to the idea of looking beyond all the fake news, all the myths, all the misconceptions and gathering enough facts to better help you make an informed decision, reach out to any one of my colleagues and strike up a conversation.

You can find us online or, better yet, visit your local branch office to speak with representative in person.   

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