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Everything You Need to Know About Working with an Event Staffing Agency

Great events require great staff. But sometimes you just don’t have the time (or the experience) necessary to hire the right people for the job.  Which is why learning how to work with an event staffing agency is an important skill for any successful event planner.

So before you start looking for staff for your next event, make sure you keep these helpful tips and ideas in mind:

Reasons you should hire an event staffing agency

Before you even consider which event staffing agency to partner with, you have to know why you’re working with them in the first place. These main event staffing agency benefits should give you an idea of just some of the ways in which they can help you.

1. Temporary employees require management.

In addition to making sure they understand and perform their duties, you’ll also need to check that they are all on time, in uniform, and prepared.

And during large events, it’s important that your temporary employees are individually assigned duties. It will help them feel comfortable and empowered to take initiative at the event when there is down time from their regular position.

2. Food and safety regulations must be followed perfectly.

This is mainly a note for bartending and catering staff, who are required to complete and be up to date with state certifications in food safety.

Checking to make sure everyone has these certifications is one thing. Making sure these rules are followed during the event is another. Event staffing agencies hire employees and keep track of their records in addition to supplying managerial types to oversee day of activities.

3. Event staff training requires a large amount of dedicated time and personnel.

Also, if you’ve never trained staff before you might find yourself with a bit of a learning curve. Event staffing agencies have systems in place to ensure every new hire has the same base level knowledge and experience before your event.

4. You may need back up event staff.

Just like any other job, event staff can fall prey to poor attendance thanks to illness, accidents, or general flakiness. While this is extremely rare, having an event staffing agency with a large roster of employees helps make getting trained back-up staff super easy and (relatively) stress- free.

5. Self-staffing requires a lot of paperwork.

In addition to hiring your own individuals, you’ll also need to do payroll, taxes, manage HR, and all the many other duties required for hiring employees. Even if they are temporary. Event staffing agencies take care of all of this for you so you can focus on higher ROI activities.

As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts to hiring and managing your own event staff. Which is why a staffing agency can be a real godsend for some large, more complex events. In addition to these basic reasons why event staffing agencies are so great, here are some ways event planners directly benefit from the arrangement.

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Event staffing agency benefits for event planners

Event planners and event staffing agencies are a match made in heaven. Here’s why:

Event staffing agencies make expert and reliable event partners.

They’ll hire the best possible staff who possess the unique talents and training needed to pull off your event without a hitch. They’ll also make sure that each person hired has a great personality and work ethic needed to be successful at the job.

And because they’ve worked with so many event planners in the past, they’ll have specific suggestions for team size or requirements based on real life experience.

Event staffing agencies save you time.

As we’ve already touched on, self-hiring staff requires time to properly search for, interview, vet, hire, onboard, train, and manage. But just in case you do think that hiring staff for your own event is the way to go for your event, keep in mind that it is doable as long as you schedule the proper amount of time to do it well. Hint: it might take longer than you think, so over budget just in case.

Event staffing agencies give you lots of flexibility.

In addition to providing back up staff in case of emergencies, staffing agencies also offer specialized roles that can help your event run smoother. For example, you might want a dedicated team for clean up. Or some mid-level staff in charge of sending employees on breaks and adjusting the cash drawer.

Plus, staffing agencies often have networks in other major cities or nearby locations. So you can have staff for multi-city and/or concurrent events regardless of where you’re based. Whether you need a simple clean up crew, a year-long sales team, or seasonal staffers, they’ve got your event covered from start to finish.

In addition to understanding why event staffing agencies are so great and what they can do for event planners, you’re also probably wondering what their employees can actually do for you.

What event staff can (and should) do

There’s often a little confusion about what hired event staff is responsible for and what your in-house team should really take care of. Clearing up the uncertainty around this topic will help prep your team for success. Knowing what each party is responsible for will also ensure that the event runs smoothly and that everyone is being asked to do what they were hired for, no more and no less.

If you’re new to working with event staff, here are some main ideas of what you should expect them to do along with some real life examples:

Conduct event or station prep required to fulfill their duties.

  • Ticket-takers should confirm receipt of the guest list and prepare their station accordingly. If working a gala, they should also make themselves familiar with the names of VIP guests and what special benefits they will be given.
  • Security staff members should have a check in meeting with the whole security team before going to their individual posts. They need to be on the same page about who covers what areas, when breaks will be scheduled, and basic emergency protocols.

Take the lead on tasks that require special skills.

  • If audio equipment is being used for presentations at a seminar, your hired staff should have received prior training and feel comfortable assisting you and your speakers whenever questions come up.
  • Sports arena staff should handle anything and everything required for transforming the venue from one event to another, like say an ice hockey skirmish to an awards presentation.

Provide excellent customer service.

  • Concessions workers should know how to check IDs when serving alcohol but they should also make guests feel welcome through good manners and a warm personality.
  • While juggling fire code concerns and the arrival of multiple parties all at once, event ushers should stay cool, calm, and collected while leading guests to their section.

Besides these duties, you should also expect your event staff to be professional, polite, and enthusiastic about your event.

How to work with an event staffing agency

It’s safe to assume that any event staffing agency that has been in business for over a year or two is experienced in events. So what other guidelines should you follow when choosing an event staffing agency? Here are a few steps to take:

Step 1: Read reviews on staffing agencies near your event location.

Yelp and reviews left on Google Maps are a good general starting point. But you should also check out industry specific sites like the experiential marketing agency reviews on Clutch or the Staffing section of Best Company.

Step 2: Conduct trials with more than one staffing agency.

Smaller events with lower stakes are a good starting point for testing the waters of a new staffing agency relationship. They can even be events that are complementary to the main event you need the most help with down the road. For example, a niche magazine might test out a staffing agency by hiring them for a small, local sci-fi convention before taking that team with them to San Diego Comic Con.

Step 3: Discuss event goals and expectations.

Your event staffing agency should be as passionate about making your event a success as you are. Their relative interest in your hopes and dreams for event staff should be noted. And, ideally, they should have already worked with event planners on other similar projects, so they’ll be able to highlight or make improvements on various areas of your plan.

Again, hiring an event staffing agency is all about finding a strong event partner. And that means aligning your strengths towards a common, effectively communicated, goal.

Step 4: Finalize details, establish a chain of command, and outline your event agenda.

Now that you’ve actually decided on a staffing agency and got on the same page about the event, it’s finally time to move forward. In the weeks and days leading up to your event, go over details for staffing, including: the detailed descriptions of each role, how many people will be needed at each station, who will be your main point of contact on the day, and what your current timetable looks like for set up and take down.

Be open to any suggestions they may have in regards to how long it takes to prep, especially for event activities like catering or live performances.  

Step 5: Hold a post-event meeting with your event staffing agency.

After you’ve concluded another successful event, it’s time to debrief and took a good hard look at what went right or wrong. Involving your event staffing agency for this meeting is important since they’ll have a unique perspective on how well the event was run. They’ll also be able to offer an unbiased opinion of what they think guests enjoyed most.

You should also use this time to go over what you’d like to improve on for the next iteration of the event in regards to the number of staff, their roles, and whether or not you plan to include all the same activities again.

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Main takeaways: Event staffing agencies for event planners

By now you’ve learned all about how great this partnership can really be and all the ways in which hiring an event staffing agency can benefit your next event. Here are some things to remember as you move forward with your planning process:

  • Event staffing agencies can handle the many, many tasks required for maintaining a dedicated team of experienced and trained event professionals so you don’t have to.
  • Having clear expectations for your event staff can help you coordinate with your in-house team.
  • Choosing an event staffing agency requires that you view the process the same way you would with any other type of strategic partnership: systematically with clear vision and communication.

At the end of the day, event staffing agencies are yet another resource event planners can call on when they need to give their events that extra oomph. Now that you know the ins and outs of working with event staffing agencies, you can move forward with confidence that you’ll pick the best partner for your upcoming affair.

Ready to learn more about staffing? Check out five things to keep in mind before hiring staff for an event, and how to manage catering staff a big events.