CINCINNATI -- Gail Griffin was just getting back into the workforce after having twins and decided a temporary employment agency would be a good way to go about it.
She went to Eastern Personnel Services and got a couple of short-term placements back-to-back before she began a temporary job at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.
“I can’t remember how long the job was supposed to be for,” Griffin said. “But I wound up staying there for six months.”
That six-month job turned into a permanent position, and, 21 years later, Griffin is still there.
Her story of success is not uncommon, said Eastern Personnel Services CEO Angelita M. Jones. In the more than 30 years that her company has been in business, Jones has seen scores of people go from temporary placements to permanent, long-term careers.
“Our job is to recruit and find the right person for the client,” Jones said. “And just like a waitress would bring the right item from the menu, we try to provide the right person for the job.”
The agency fills positions ranging from dishwashers to doctors and everything in between, she said.
Clients include local governments and universities, private companies and local sports facilities. Its biggest current contracts are with Great American Ball Park, the University of Cincinnati and the city of Cincinnati, Jones said.
Employers that have used Eastern Personnel Services said they keep going back because of how Jones and her staff do their jobs.
“They have a lot of depth in their hiring pool so when you call them and need something, they can always come up with somebody who’s terrific,” said Kathleen Norris, managing principal with Urban Fast Forward.
“It’s easy to send out a warm body," Norris said. "It’s hard to send out the right person. And Eastern has a knack for sending the right person.”
Treating employees and clients well
Jones said she thinks what sets her business apart is the way Eastern Personnel Services treats its temporary employees.
“A lot of clients get gifts from their sales reps, but we give our gifts to our employees as well,” she said. “We listen to them. We do whatever it is that they need to be done to make sure they’re employed on a regular basis.”
That’s important because without those employees, Eastern Personnel Services would not be able to meet the needs of its client companies, Jones said.
And taking care of employees goes beyond gifts, she said.
In the temporary employment industry, for example, it is common for employers to delay filing time sheets for the workers they hire. Instead of allowing that to stall employees’ paychecks, however, Eastern Personnel Services has a policy of paying the employee on time and then collecting payment from the employer, Jones said.
“We have to be financially stable because we pay people every week,” she said. “And sometimes the clients don’t pay us for 30 to 60 days.”
Jones, who started the company after working as the director of human resources for a small corporation, said some aspects of the temporary employment industry have changed a lot over the past three decades. But the challenge remains finding the right people for the jobs that clients have available.
Depending on the economy, there can be more people available than there are jobs to fill or more jobs available than there are people to fill them.
“I don’t know if there is a sweet spot,” Jones said.
In recent years, Eastern Personnel Services has launched training programs in such areas as banquet service, customer services and construction to keep up with clients’ demands, she said, adding that training is an area where her agency could expand.
The goal, Jones said, is to keep working to improve how Eastern Personnel Services’ serves both corporate clients and temporary employees.
“It seems like there’s five million of us out here right now, so we have to make sure that all our T’s are crossed and our I’s are dotted,” she said. “We have to take care of our clients.”
Going ‘above and beyond’
She has a strong team to make sure that happens, Jones said. Eastern Personnel Services has 23 employees at its Downtown office, and several of the consultants who work with temporary employees are former business owners themselves who no longer own their companies.
“All of them, they pull their weight like crazy,” she said.
As business owners, they know what employers value in employees just as Jones does. Eastern Personnel has people come in seeking temporary employment for professional level jobs because they have trouble showing up for work on time and being reliable, she said.
Jones and her staff work to help people understand the importance of being dependable and having a strong work ethic, she said.
“Angelita, she went above and beyond,” said Brenda Neal, the office manager at Elliott Management Group. She got that job, and her previous job, by doing temporary work for Eastern Personnel Services. “She went so far as to pick candidates up for positions and drop them off.”
Neal spent some time working as an administrative assistant for Jones, too, she said. She said Jones was especially kind to people who showed up looking for work with inappropriate clothing and children in tow because they had not been able to get babysitters.
“She seemed to cater to these people and kind of took them under her wing,” Neal said.
As stressful as the work can be, Jones said she’s confident that she is doing exactly what she should be doing.
“To start, my goal was to have a job. But now it’s more important for me to help,” she said. “We’re not a social service agency by any means. We are for profit, but it’s very important that we do things in consideration of other people and not just put the money in our pocket. That’s extremely important to us.”
Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. She has been writing about women- and minority-owned businesses in Greater Cincinnati for more than 20 years. To read more stories by Lucy, go to www.wcpo.com/may . To reach her, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.