Alternative staffing is a flexible and sustainable workforce development strategy based on in-depth knowledge of the local labor market and the ability to respond and adapt to market changes over time. The model’s social enterprise approach leverages charitable support with fees earned from employers, making it highly cost effective compared with other transitional employment programs.
Alternative staffing organizations (ASOs), as staffing vendors, know the skill sets sought by employers and can prepare candidates accordingly. As workforce developers, ASOs understand their job seekers’ challenges and deliver supportive services to address these. In their role as intermediaries, ASOs receive customer feedback about workers’ performance and use this to reinforce positive behaviors and help individuals address deficiencies.
ASOs are primarily funded through fees earned from client companies for staffing services. Most ASOs rely on grant funds to support their feasibility and business planning activities and to capitalize their start-up. As ASOs grow their sales and become more stable, grants are often dedicated to worker supports such as transportation or retention services. Established ASOs cover an average 94% of program expenses with fee revenues, and about half generate a modest surplus.
ASOs understand their workers’ strengths and utilize industry standard software to professionally match candidates with job opportunities, an approach that increases the likelihood of successful placements. ASO workers’ median length of employment is about 10 weeks and may include multiple assignments. A recent demonstration study of four ASOs found that 49% of workers surveyed six to eight months after completing their first ASO assignment were still working. About half of those had converted directly from the temporary assignment onto the employer’s payroll.
“Successful long-term employment outcomes require more than simply placing an individual on a job. Instead, [this] requires placement in multiple jobs over a long enough period of time to allow employment to become the individual’s new normal.”
Dennis Moore, Galt Foundation, Salem, Oregon and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma