Pros and Cons of Using a Staffing Agency for Nurses

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Written by Kayla Tyson Editor, B2C Content, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Katherine Zheng, PhD, BSN Content Writer, IntelyCare
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Many healthcare organizations have chosen to partner with a nurse staffing agency to fill positions within their facilities. This can be a complex decision, with implications for your budget, staff, and scheduling capabilities. If your organization is facing urgent staffing demands, you may be considering agency options and wondering how to start.

A nurse staffing agency could be a great answer to your organization’s needs. We’ll explore some of the pros and cons of using a staffing agency to help you weigh your options.

Nurse Staffing Agency Pros Nurse Staffing Agency Cons
Simplified hiring process

Wide variety of professional talent

Reduced business expenses

Flexible scheduling options

More frequent onboarding

Staff inconsistency can impact culture

Less involvement in the hiring process

Agencies differ in quality

Pros of Using a Staffing Agency

Nurses are high in demand, often making recruitment a long and resource-intensive process for short-staffed facilities. Because of this, staffing agencies can bring many benefits for facilities that are looking to get shifts filled quickly and with less hassle. As you weigh the pros and cons of using a staffing agency, here are some of the more specific benefits to consider.

1. Simplified Hiring Process

When you work with an agency, you can get nursing professionals into your facilities with ease. That’s because you can leave the interview process to someone else, saving time that previously would’ve been spent on recruiting talent and sorting through a lengthy list of applications.

In addition to interviewing, the agency will also verify the individual’s credentials, manage payroll, and perform background checks. While each healthcare staffing agency differs, you’ll likely find their expertise in recruitment and retention eases the burden on your organization’s administrative team. Additionally, if you work with a high quality agency that supplies W2 nurses, this can help reduce liability risks typically associated with hiring 1099 nurses.

2. Wide Variety of Professional Talent

Nurse staffing agencies excel at developing a network of skilled nursing professionals, with various specialties, skill sets, and experience levels. Additionally, agencies often are able to recruit talent from a wider geographic area, which can benefit healthcare organizations in remote areas or with a consistently low number of local nursing professionals.

Does your organization need specialized skills? A healthcare staffing agency can also help connect you with experienced staff from in-demand specialties, like critical care, neonatal, and surgical, to name a few.

3. Reduced Business Expenses

Working with a nurse staffing agency can also reduce administrative costs, allowing your organization to focus on other priorities. As mentioned previously, the agency handles the hiring process, payroll, background checks, and credentials. Additionally, because the agency covers benefits, your organization won’t need to provide health insurance or retirement plans.

Staffing flexibility also reduces long-term costs, as facilities can hire based on the level of patient demand. When demand is low, you can hire fewer staff members from the agency rather than pay the price associated with hiring all employees on a full-time basis.

4. Flexible Scheduling Options

With a healthcare staffing agency, you’ll be able to respond quickly to your organization’s needs and access nursing professionals on short notice. You can promptly address unexpected patient demand and circumvent the lengthy recruitment process. This is also a win-win for the agency staff, who often seek flexibility in their location, hours, or area of specialty. Some agencies allow their employees to set their own schedules and work on a per diem basis, which provides a level of flexibility unavailable to most staff nurses.

When it comes to the pros and cons of using a staffing agency for nursing professionals, this flexibility to fill shifts is often a significant factor because it means more stable nurse-patient ratios, improvements in quality of care, and better regulatory compliance.

Cons of Using a Staffing Agency

While working with a staffing agency can be a helpful way to fill shifts quickly, there can be other burdens associated with short-term hiring. Now that we’ve discussed the pros of working with a staffing agency, here are some of the cons that you should also consider.

1. More Frequent Onboarding

Typically, working with a nurse staffing agency means that you’ll have a greater number of professionals in your facility than if you hired only permanent employees. Agency nursing professionals often work shorter-term assignments, such as covering seasonal surges in demand or filling in for staff who are on leave. Your organization will need to provide onboarding training to familiarize agency staff with the communication systems and procedures unique to your specific healthcare system, which can be time-intensive.

2. Staff Inconsistency Can Impact Culture

Some organizations find that hiring nursing professionals from an agency impacts the dynamics of their staff. Collaboration and team building can be made more challenging with a high turnover of temporary staff. This can weigh on the agency staff as well, who may feel as if they are repeatedly on the outside of the group looking in.

For the few disadvantages, having a broader range of staff members can also be a good thing. Agency professionals can decrease the workload of permanent staff, bring fresh perspectives, and encourage a culture of innovation by sharing new ways of doing things.

3. Less Involvement in the Hiring Process

Naturally, when the hiring process is handled by an outside group, you’ll have less say in the process. Some healthcare organizations find that the lack of control makes it more difficult to determine whether a professional from an agency will be a good fit with their culture and values. You may find it preferable to manage the hiring process in-house from start to finish — it just depends on your organization’s goals and short-term needs.

4. Agencies Differ in Quality

The pros and cons of using a staffing agency can also vary greatly depending on the quality of the company you’re working with. It’s important to verify the reputation and credibility of an agency before entering into a partnership. Low-quality agencies can result in less rigorous hiring practices, unresponsive service departments, insufficient (or a complete lack of) professional development, or a high turnover of staff.

The size of the agency also plays an important part in your experience, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all consideration. Some healthcare facilities may want to work with the top 10 healthcare staffing agencies, for instance, while others may prefer to work with smaller, more specialized agencies.

It’s important to set clear goals about what your organization would like to accomplish through a partnership with a staffing agency. This will help address your company’s most pressing needs and find an agency that works best for you.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Using a Staffing Agency for Your Facility?

Still not sure how to best fill your shifts? With IntelyCare, you’ll get more than a staffing agency, you’ll get a staffing partner that can bring high-quality nursing professionals to your facility, when you need them. Find out how we can help you stabilize your workforce today.