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How to Decide When to Use a Laboratory Staffing Service

Staffing services offer a range of benefits but how do you know when you need them?

Aimee O’Driscoll

Aimee O’Driscoll, BSc, MBA, has a decade of experience as a development chemist and is a seasoned science writer. She can be reached at

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Maintaining a well-staffed laboratory can be a challenge, especially for small businesses with limited budgets. One way to overcome this is to use a laboratory staffing service. Laboratory staffing services provide qualified personnel to fill a variety of roles, from technicians and analysts to managers and directors. These services can provide temporary, on-call, or permanent staff and provide flexibility, allowing you to increase or decrease your workforce as needed.

One of the biggest advantages of using a staffing service is that it gives you access to a pool of qualified candidates. As Sarah Benz, vice president of Lab Temps, explains, staffing firms can help managers find highly vetted candidates, develop faster onboarding of new hires, reduce the number of unqualified applications you have to review and reject, and help advise on the current hiring trends specific to the laboratory industry.

So how do you know when it’s a good time to hire a staffing service? There are several important considerations including turnover, onboarding processes, and diversity, among others.

Observe turnover

In any business, it's important to pay close attention to turnover. This is especially true in the laboratory setting where a high turnover rate can quickly lead to staffing shortages and decreased productivity. If you're starting to notice an uptick in the number of employees leaving your laboratory, it may be time to consider hiring a staffing service.

One reason for a high turnover rate could be flaws in the selection process. As Benz explains, “Internal recruiters are often responsible for filling all the positions with their employer and may lack the technical knowledge required to find a good quality technical person for your lab’s specific needs in the time you need them.” She recommends keeping track of the length of the hiring cycle, how often you need to fill a role or similar roles, how technical the role is, and the turnover rates for that type of position. 

Evaluate recruiting and onboarding processes

Effective recruitment and onboarding processes are vital to maintaining the right workforce, and one mistake managers make is assuming these processes are the same across industries and business areas. Recruiting and onboarding through a staffing service can save you time and money while also ensuring that you add the right staff members to the team.

“Staffing firms often train recruiters to become subject matter experts in a particular industry or business area,” says Benz. She adds that this level of experience and knowledge will help in reducing your time to hire and reducing the time you spend in the hiring process. Staffing services can also handle all the administrative responsibilities such as setting up the candidate for interviews, preparing offers, and checking references.

Post-hire, a staffing service can provide support with onboarding new employees, helping them to acclimate to their new roles and responsibilities. 

Assess diversity

Any good manager knows that a diverse workforce is essential for success. Not only does diversity bring different perspectives and approaches to problem-solving, but it can also help to foster a more positive work environment. One way to gauge diversity is to consider the number of employees from different backgrounds. This includes employees from different racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds, as well as those with different genders, sexual orientations, and physical abilities.

In addition, it's important to look at the number of employees who are parents, veterans, or members of other traditionally underrepresented groups. By taking stock of the diversity within a company, managers can decide whether their workforce is truly representative of the communities they serve. If not, a staffing service can step in to help fill the gaps.

Determine workload and skillsets

One key indicator that you might need a staffing service is seeing that your existing staff members simply have too large a workload. If tasks aren’t being completed, projects are falling behind, or you’re seeing burnout among staff members, it’s likely past time to get some help with staffing.

It's also important to consider the skillsets of your current staff. If your procedures are complex or require specialized training, it may be necessary to hire a staffing service that can provide the qualified personnel you need. 

By carefully evaluating the factors above, you can make the decision that's best for your laboratory. If you decide to go ahead with hiring a staffing service, be sure to take the most important factors into consideration before jumping in. These include evaluating the workload, skillsets, and capacity of your existing staff and considering your budget carefully. When selecting a staffing service, ask for referrals and interview multiple agencies to find the ideal fit for your needs.

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