Interviews BLOG

The US Staffing Association (USSA) is a national association that represents independent staffing firms. The goal of the USSA is to provide staffing firms with the latest information on metrics within the industry, opportunities for cost-effective and cutting-edge training, ways to enhance capabilities and compete through partnerships, and to be a general sounding board on issues affecting their industry. The USSA has valuable insight into the way employers think and how they hire workers, especially in terms of workplace drug testing. We were able to speak with Eric Randolph, the Executive Director of USSA, about staffing associations, drug testing in the workplace, and workplace drug abuse.

TestCountry: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Eric. To get started, could you talk to us a little bit about the U.S.S.A.? For example, what makes it different from other staffing associations, and what are some of your major goals as an organization?

Eric Randolph: The United States Staffing Association (USSA) exists to serve independent staffing firms. Our membership includes all sizes and types of staffing firms, but our median firms range in the 500 temp category. Our mission is to help equip independent owners with the tools necessary to succeed in today’s economic climate. We provide resources and information that are vital to the day-to-day operation of staffing companies. For example, we share the latest trends in sales, marketing, interviewing, sourcing, work comp, drug testing, credit and collections, tax credits, E&O, background checks, funding, M&A, software, and the list continues to grow.

TestCountry: I heard that a lot of people lately have been turning to staffing companies during this recent economic downturn, especially recent college graduates. Have you seen a growing number of people applying to jobs through staffing companies, and what role would you say the companies play in job recovery?

Eric Randolph: This is a great question and has a two-fold answer. First, there are a large number of job seekers that are turning to employment agencies for assistance in finding work. Some are unemployed and submitting their résumé for permanent and temporary positions, while much more are underemployed and applying for career advancement opportunities.

Second, there is a growing trend of larger organizations turning to staffing firms for a wide variety of placement issues. For example, with budget cutbacks, often two positions are combined into one and it requires the sourcing skills of a pro to find these uniquely qualified candidates. Also, there are significant advantages for an employer to use temporary employees for gap work, projects, and seasonal growth.

TestCountry: How would you recommend a person choose a staffing company to work with?

Eric Randolph: For a job seeker, trust is a big key when working with an employment agency. There are a number of ways to identify reputable firms. First, leverage your social networks. Ask your friends on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and of course LinkedIn. Second, when you think you’ve found a reliable agency, do your research. Check LinkedIn recommendations, and social reputation networks like Yelp, and Angie’s List. Lastly, pay close attention to how you’re treated by the agency. It’s important to develop a solid relationship with your recruiter.

TestCountry: What is your membership base like?

Eric Randolph: Our members vary from coast to coast and all segments of the staffing industry. They range from very small single office firms with less than 100 contractors, to large privately held multi-office groups with over 2,000 contractors. As I alluded to earlier, the average member falls into that median 500 range.

TestCountry: Because staffing firms are guaranteeing solid workers to their clients, they must be concerned with the way people conduct themselves professionally. What kind of pre-employment screening must their workers go through before they can be approved for placement?

Eric Randolph: There are many options that staffing firms can and do utilize to prepare their candidates for presentation to their clients. The bare-bones basics include criminal background checks, I-9 compliance, employment verification, and of course drug testing. Some additional pre-screening events could include personality, character and skill testing.

TestCountry: What kind of problems does substance abuse cause for staffing companies, and how do they handle substance abuse in the workplace?

Eric Randolph: Substance abuse can have a tremendous impact on a staffing firms business and there are a few factors that they must consider. Each state has there own body of laws concerning workplace and employment drug testing and compliance is of course necessary. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for a staffing firm’s client (the company they’re hiring for) to have specific drug testing requirements. Furthermore, a staffing firms policy for drug testing can have a great impact on other issues like worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, and their corporate liability. As you can see proper pre-employment drug testing is the best prevention of a wide variety of negative issues staffing firms could face.

TestCountry: Would you recommend companies have a policy in place for potential problems or handle each worker on a case-by-case basis?

Eric Randolph: First, I’d like to clarify that I’m not an attorney and neither I nor the USSA offers legal advice. With that being said, I believe that history will show that staffing firms that have a written policy in place to deal with potential drug use issues are better off than those who do not.

TestCountry: When should an employee be drug tested? For example, should there be mandatory random testing or should someone be given the benefit of the doubt until they begin to exhibit odd behavior?

Eric Randolph: State laws have an impact on when, how, and why employee drug testing is conducted. There is also a distinction between pre-employment testing and employee testing. In addition to state guidelines, there are situations when federal guidelines come into play, such as employees serving the aviation, trucking or mass transit industries.

TestCountry: Is there one substance of abuse that you have seen as more prevalent than others in the workplace?

Eric Randolph: Statistically, the most abused substance in the workplace is alcohol, but that doesn’t mean that other drugs such as marijuana, methamphetamine, and opiates are not an issue. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it’s estimated that approximately 15 million heavy alcohol users hold full-time jobs in the U.S.

TestCountry: What do you think is the number one thing people should know about drug abuse in the workplace?

Eric Randolph: Workplace drug abuse has a vast array of consequences but namely; the abuser is 4 times more likely to have a workplace accident. It’s important to remember that those accidents often injure innocent coworkers in addition to the abuser.

TestCountry: That is a great piece of advice to keep in mind—that drug abuse in the workplace could have big impacts on the people around you who depend on you. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insight on this topic with us.

Eric Randolph: Thanks for having me!