Good employees are the lifeblood of a company, and it takes experience and finesse to find the right candidate for the job. This is where staffing firms and human resources professionals shine. With their expertise, the right promotional products can make recruiting, hiring and retention even more effective.

According to the American Staffing Association, in the U.S. there are about 20,000 staffing and recruiting companies that operate a combined 39,000 offices. More than three million temporary and contract employees work for staffing companies in an average week, and during the course of a year, staffing companies hire nearly 15 million temporary and contract employees.

Most of these—76 percent—work full time, and one third were offered a permanent job after filling the role as temporary workers. Two thirds of employees who received offers accepted permanent positions.

A study released in 2016 found that, from 2005 to 2015, the percentage of workers in alternative work arrangements—temporary agency workers, on-call workers, contract workers, and independent contractors or freelancers—rose from 10.1 percent to 15.8 percent. The study, produced by researchers from Harvard University and Princeton University, also found that workers hired through contract companies increased from .6 percent to 3.1 percent over the same time period.

Once employees are hired, the next challenge is to keep them on board. Retention programs are ripe for promotional opportunities as a means of keeping staff engaged and enthusiastic about their places of employment. 

Studies have shown that employment anniversaries are the most likely time for staff to leave their positions, and voluntary turnover numbers rise with each successive anniversary. Recognizing employees on their work anniversaries with unique gifts and incentives can help minimize the likelihood of that turnover.

Market Snapshot

Nearly 550,000 human resources specialists were employed in the U.S. in 2016, and employment in the sector is expected to grow seven percent through 2026, with most of that growth in the employment services industry. California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania have the highest employment level for HR specialists.

Getting In On  The Ground Floor

Career fairs are a popular means of attracting talent and pairing candidates with available positions. Staffing agencies that participate in or host job fairs will benefit from branded collateral as well as hard goods that can serve as useful reminders, plus boldly branded display and exhibit items including table covers, table tents, pop-up booths and signage.

Tim Sackett, president of staffing firm HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, Michigan, suggests offering items such as branded USB memory sticks with company information uploaded, toys that are either branded or represent company mascots, and, of course, pens.

Top-paying states for  HR specialist positions (annual mean wage, May 2016)


Human resources and staffing professionals are supported by several organizations that can be a great jumping-off point for networking and researching prospects’ challenges with hiring and recruitment—challenges that can be met with the right promotional program.

  • Society For Human Resource Management
  • National Human Resources Association
  • American Staffing Association
  • United States Staffing Association

Largest Staffing Firms In The U.S.

The largest 144 staffing firms in the U.S. generated a combined revenue of more than $100 million in 2016. Here are the top five:


The industrial skill segment generated the largest staffing revenue for 45 companies, while the IT skill segment generated the largest revenue for 43 companies on the list.


A Case Study From The Industry

Building Team Spirit Among Employees

A promotion designed by distributor ePromos based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, helps a law firm unite staff under one roof and one mission.

The challenge: Helping employees feel at home quickly during a time of transition while also introducing new eco-sensitive policies.

Global law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP outgrew the space housing its New York City branch, and moved to a bigger—and more eco-conscious—facility. The firm’s human resources team wanted to bring together 390 employees who previously were physically divided in the old building to build a sense of unity. The team also wanted to make everyone feel at home in the new space while simultaneously launching a “Go Even Greener” campaign inspired by their new office.

The solution: Jumbo shopping totes, coffee mugs and branded candies.

To create a sense of camaraderie, the company planned a breakfast and
lunch event for the first day in the new building. When employees arrived they were greeted with an official Akin Gump welcome kit including a jumbo reusable shopping tote bag, microwaveable coffee mug and logoed rolls of Life Savers® candies. The hefty totes, which are 100 percent recyclable and reusable, were produced in the firm’s traditional blue color. The 15-ounce, microwavable, dishwasher-safe mugs were also produced in the firm’s signature color, and featured comfort-grip handles and rotating, locking signature lids that disassemble for easy cleaning. The items were all shipped to ePromos and assembled prior to shipping to the firm’s new offices.

The result: The HR team manager noted that the kits were a hit, and he saw the items used frequently around the office. 


Jen Alexander is associate editor of PPB.