Minimizing Temp Agency Service Costs

Despite concerns about background checks, training, supervision, certifications and licenses, which can be troublesome to manage through a 2nd party, many providers use temporary staff from an agency when necessary.

This is not ideal. I remember working with a provider who seemed to have very low overtime costs considering the provider managed a group home program. I could not understand how they managed to keep overtime so low. Eventually I asked them what they did when they got a call off. Their answer? “We call our temping service”.

Instead of looking at payroll costs, I asked to see their Accounts Payable records. The annual expenditure on the temporary service was over $250,000 a year at a 33% higher rate than if the provider used their own staff! Meanwhile, employees were leaving because they couldn’t earn enough money!

Before using temping services, providers should look at their internal communication and scheduling systems. Often the problem is not that “no one wants the hours” but, “no one knows about the hours”.

Using existing staff can increase retention (higher gross pay) and reduce costs.


  • Make sure your scheduling software notifies all employees about open shifts. Let the employees request the shifts if they want them.
  • Keep open schedules up-to-date so staff can see accurate open shifts.
  • Use an availability search when a call off happens and notify available staff before contacting a temping service.
  • Consider centralized scheduling for day-to-day schedule planning and just have managers look after call offs.

Recruitment, Hiring, Training and Retention

  • Make sure you embrace high velocity hiring.
  • Create job descriptions that emphasize your competitive advantages.

Internal Communications

  • Ensure your agency has an integrated communications system that allows HR, administration and managers to easily and quickly communicate with staff.

Download our ebook, The Complete Guide to Scheduling for Providers, to learn more about your options!

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