Working with temporary employment agencies has allowed us to take stock of how they use technology. This text is an analysis of our interviews with agency owners and their employees: managers, coordinators and recruiters. Digitising processes is an obvious step in such a business, but it is difficult to find an agency where everyone is happy with the solutions used.
Table of contents
The day-to-day tasks of coordinators and recruiters in a temporary work agency are much more varied and complex than in other HR services companies. To ensure continuity of employment in projects, they have to process a lot more employee data, legalise their stay and work, provide accommodation, transport, work attire and sometimes even tools.
What came as a huge surprise was the vastly different levels of digitisation of agency operations. There were cases where the primary tool of the coordinators was a notepad (and I don't mean the Windows 'notepad' application), and the physical files of the workers were regularly reviewed to determine if any of the documents had expired. We have only encountered one case where a large and complex ERP system was successfully implemented and regularly used by all employees.
Most often, however, we encounter spreadsheets used for all aspects of the agency's operations. Each coordinator usually uses several of their own spreadsheets to handle selected processes. Separately for recruitment, separately for employment and legalisation, plus accommodation and management of other resources - up to a dozen independent files in total. Plus archive versions - they copy the sheets into separate folders each month - although this is not the rule. How do they share data with colleagues? They send another copy - e.g. by email.
Unfortunately, the extremely useful functions in the sheets are quite rarely used: shared documents in the cloud, data access control, automatic change tracking, data filtering, conditional formatting, combining data from different sheets. This is because they are not at all trivial to set up, and it is quite often the agency employee himself who is responsible for creating his own sheets.
Temporary workers are employed by the agency itself, so if HR and payroll are not subcontracted, then the implementation of a specialised payroll/accounting software is necessary. The problem arises when it is to be used by more than just qualified HR. It is simply cumbersome and difficult, and usually ends up with no one using it. The same is true of ERP systems, which offer great possibilities but cause a lot of worry for 'less technical' users.
Increasingly, we are seeing the adaptation of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems - sales management software for recruitment and employment coordination. They offer many interesting functions, but the transfer of many processes, typical of temporary work, is sometimes inaccurate and sometimes impossible. The CRM systems most commonly used by agencies, however, originate from Russia, which means that many agencies are now changing software.
Many recruiters use so-called ATSs, or recruitment systems. There are many very convenient tools of this type, but then they work independently of the coordinators, who still have to provide their own tools for their daily work. There is then no easy collaboration between coordinators and recruiters. Despite good recruitment programmes, there are more worksheets, more unnecessary emails and a mass of extra files that get lost somewhere on disks or memory sticks.
We also encountered the use of HRM (Human Resources Management) type systems, sometimes even including a module for recruitment and organisation of documents in employee files. Two systems even had basic functions for HR and accounting programmes and for managing resources, such as housing. However, neither owners nor employees were satisfied with any of the systems. Despite time-consuming and careful implementation - the programmes were difficult to use and did not save users valuable time.
We have identified dozens of problems, but for the purposes of this text we will only present the most important ones:
Ordering an IT system exclusively for your own needs seems to solve most problems. We can freely define processes, automate the most important activities and adapt data fields to specific requirements.
The business analysis and initial software design, created by experienced specialists from the best 'software-houses', is several months of intensive work, involving a large part of the agency's team. And this is only the beginning. The creation of the software, testing of subsequent versions, data entry, testing, training are not only valuable time, but also a large cost of remuneration for the developers.
There is also no guarantee that the outcome of such a project will meet expectations. Among the agencies that have implemented a bespoke system - more than half have not started using software they have been working on for more than 12 months. In most of the remaining cases, the created system was implemented, but met a small part of the agency's needs. It is important to remember that with such a digitisation model, there is no opportunity to test the solution before a large financial time commitment.
We based our idea for the system on our many years of experience in the IT industry and the studied needs of temporary work agencies. We create software comparable to dedicated solutions, but instead of analysing the needs of one company, we study the processes in many very similar ones, namely temporary employment agencies.
We have launched a system that is an essential tool for the daily work of recruiters and coordinators. We digitise recruitment processes, support communication with candidates, ensure electronic versions of employee documents are kept and reminders of expiry dates. We streamline internal communication within the agency and help manage housing resources more efficiently and quickly. You can read more about the capabilities of the LightApply system on the 'Platform' page.
The LightApply system is available in the cloud for all agency staff, on a 'SaaS' (Software as a Service) subscription model. This means a small monthly subscription payment, depending on the number of temporary employees. We regularly introduce new features and enhancements that automatically appear in the system without the need to involve anyone from the agency. We offer a 7-day trial of the application to all interested parties.