A brief history of staffing

September 20, 2020 Casey Nighbor

The staffing industry has come a long way since its humble beginnings.

Early 1900s: Responding to a need

The first known employment agencies in the United States started around the turn of the century. Most notably was the one Katherine “Kitty” Felton started in San Francisco following the Great Earthquake of 1906. Felton created the agency in effort to help those who lost work as a result of the earthquake and revive the city’s economy. 

1940s: The birth of the staffing industry

The first iteration of the modern staffing industry as we know it came about in the 1940s during World War II. As employees went to fight overseas, they left behind open positions and businesses were struggling to make do. More staffing agencies were established out of the demand to help businesses fill those positions quickly. Once the war ended, the staffing industry only grew, as soldiers returning home relied on staffing agencies to find work again. 

1960s: The rise of the “semi-permanent employee”

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, more companies began hiring “semi-permanent employees” (what we now call contract or temporary employees) from “temporary help firms” to help with short-term assignments or fill the gaps when permanent employees took time off or went on leave. Temporary workers became an affordable option for companies struggling to employ full-time staff amid the economic hardships of the 1970s. Roles were no longer limited to clerical work of “blue collar jobs,” but expanded to include engineering, accounting, programming and other professions. 

1980s: Major milestones

Temporary employment skyrocketed from 185,000 temps a day to over 400,000 in 1980. Before the end of the decade, in 1988, that number surpassed one million. Around the same time, the “Part-Time and Temporary Worker Protection Act,” the first legislation designed to protect the rights of temporary workers, is introduced. Over the next few decades, the staffing industry continues to grow and evolve even amid economic ups and downs. In 1988, Staff Management | SMX was founded as a comphrensive staffing company. We partner with mid-sized to Fortune 500 companies to deliver innovative onsite staffing solutions and measurable results to our manufacturing, fulfillment and distribution clients across North America.

2000s: A new model emerges

In 2003, SIMOS Solutions was founded. SIMOS uses a blend of classical engineering practices coupled with a fixed-price model. This unique staffing model is an output-based model and high-touch operations benefit greatly from this solution.

Today: Highly specialized, wide-ranging and positioned for growth

Today, staffing agencies are more prominent than ever, with about 25,000 staffing and recruiting companies nationwide, hiring around 16 million temporary and contract employees each year. 

Today’s staffing firms have also evolved beyond placement services in order to meet changing demands. They now match companies across all industries with employees of all skill levels, and many offer a wide range of services and technologies, from recruitment marketing to workforce planning and strategy. 

As more workers choose freelance, temporary or contract work for the flexibility and autonomy it provides, and as companies rely on staffing agencies to help them scale quickly and stay agile, the demand for staffing agencies and the value they provide is evident, and not going away any time soon.

As modern staffing companies, Staff Management| SMX and SIMOS Solutions have evolved to meet modern demands and can help your operation grow. Staff Management | SMX tailors a strategic onsite staffing solution fit to your organization’s unique needs and goals. SIMOS Solutions can provide a workforce solution that delivers reduced cost, budget certainty and increased productivity while meeting your quality standards.  Together they provide a high-powered program with no delays in your supply chain. With these solutions in place, you can focus on making the best product—we’ll take care of the people.  

Want to learn more about what we can do for you? Watch this short video. 

About the Author

About Casey: Content marketing manager, frequently reading, aspiring chef, failed plant mom, connoisseur of tater tots, beauty products and airplane food.

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