Advice to contractors when using agencies

Advice to contractors when dealing with agencies

As one of Ireland’s leading workforce solutions specializing in the recruitment of construction staff for the last 7 years, the employees of Sherlock recruitment feel that we are in a position to offer advice to contractors who work with agencies such as ourselves or others in our sector. This piece aims to highlight some key areas where both contactors and agencies can work together in order to get the most out of each other and have a good working relationship.


The biggest and most important thing on any job is how agency staff are integrated with the company’s own staff, how they are viewed and how they are communicated with. Too often on jobs we see that people employed through an agency are treated as less equally than a company’s directly employed people and are frequently excluded. “The agency lad” and “The hired in labour” are two of many of the terms that employees have regularly experienced on site. We have seen examples of separate lunch tables in canteens for agency vs directly employed staff. A lack of inclusions can lead to lack of motivation and morale for employees which in turn can lead to a decrease in production levels on site, ultimately resulting in increased project costs for the contractor. Studies have shown that people who feel like they belong in the workplace are 3.5 times more likely to contribute to their full potential, so it is in the best interest of all parties to ensure proper integration among all staff.

Specifications/Realistic Expectations

At times contactors will come to agencies and request a role of a very broad trade to be filled i.e. “I need a spark”. No specifics have been given and so often a person turns up who cannot carry out a specific task that could have been detailed in advance i.e. fault finding etc. Contactors need to ensure that they include any specific skills or experience necessary for the job to avoid disappointment. Like anything when dealing with people, a 100% success rate is never guaranteed so there needs to be some sort of failure rate expected. It could be for a number of reasons i.e. location, culture, type of work, personality clashes etc. The role failure may be nobody’s fault in particular, just circumstance. In Sherlock we pride ourselves on having the highest success rates in the industry however we are human and so are our staff so a small failure rate should be expected particularly when dealing with large volumes of staff.

Opportunities for progression

What is in it for the candidate? Engaging a candidate on a 2 week contract with zero prospect of further employment/advancement is not going to be motivating work for the candidate. Why would a contractor expect the same level of commitment from a permanent staff member who knows that if they perform well there is a chance of long term work vs a 2 week contract with no chance of further employment? Our aim is always to retain our staff and strive for greater opportunities for our employees. We have typically found that the fail rate of supplied personnel reduces massively in an event where the candidate supplied can see opportunity for longer term secure work with the contractor. The vast majority of bad experiences contactor’s have with recruitment agencies are on these short term contracts. No show rates and staff retention issues are much higher on shorter term contracts while a lack of motivation can often result in reduced out put and increases in employment issues such as absentee rates etc. In short, a contractor who sources staff through agencies on short term contracts should not expect the same return/output as they would expect from their long-term, full time employees. As one of the leading staffing agencies in Ireland we are often in a position to offer a continuity of work to our employees. However, there is no substitute to that of a contractor declaring a long term commitment to a staff member in an event where their performance is where it needs to be.

General advice

The above information has been constructed through our years of knowledge in the construction industry and our want for the most beneficial relationships between ourselves and our clients. If you are one of our current/potential clients please contact your account manager who will be more than happy to help you discuss the ways you can achieve the best return from an agency staffing service like ourselves.