QPS Employment Group needs more workers

Company is now paying its staff larger bonuses for referrals

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Lynn Pedersen, branch manager at the Fort Dodge QPS Employment Group, poses in her office recently.

As the economy booms across the nation, employers are having difficulty finding the well-qualified workers they need to staff growing businesses. In response to the difficulty it is having in recruiting employees, Wisconsin-based QPS Employment Group Inc., which is an employment agency, has enhanced its bonus program for referrals.

“Paid referral bonuses are our No. 1 recruiting expense in 2017,” said Mark Immekus, president and chief sales officer at QPS.

According to information provided by the company, so far in 2017 it has paid out more than $400,000 in bonuses for employee referrals. That is a huge change from 2016 when the company only spent $50,000 on such bonuses.

Lynn Pedersen, branch manager of the QPS office in Fort Dodge, which is located at 1426 Central Ave., said recruiting employees to meet client needs is especially difficult because so few people are unemployed.

“Right now, Webster County’s unemployment rate is 2.8 percent for October,” she said. “I always average Webster County and seven counties surrounding Webster County. That unemployment rate is at 2.2 percent right now for the eight counties.”

Pedersen said a shortage of qualified workers is a national problem, but the situation is especially acute in Iowa. She said the nationwide unemployment rate is 4.1 percent. In Iowa it is 3 percent.

“I never thought I’d see the day when I would look at the unemployment figures coming out on the news and say, ‘Oh no, unemployment went down again.'” Pedersen said. “I feel guilty when I say that but it does make it very tough for everybody. The unemployment rate has gotten so low that our clients and everybody in the communities around are scrambling to try to find people. If you drive around town you will see a lot of ‘hiring’ signs in windows. You have big companies that are moving into the area and they are going to need people.”

She said the tight job market nationally is likely to remain tight.

“It’s going to get worse because you’ve got 10,000 baby boomers a day who are retiring,” Pedersen said.

According to Pedersen, QPS has had a bonus program for referrals for some time, but strengthening it became crucial as it became harder to find workers.

“When I started here five years ago, we had the people but we didn’t have the jobs,” she said. “Now we have the jobs and we don’t have the people. It now probably takes us two or three times more work to find the right person for a position and get it filled for a client than it did before.”

QPS employees who refer someone to the company are now eligible for larger bonuses than they were in the past.

“It was $25 per referral a few years back,” Pedersen said. “Then it was $50. We’ve always had an amount of hours that the person they refer has to work for us before they get their referral bonus. That has dropped as well. Right now, our referral bonus stands at $125 for each employee who has referred somebody and the referral has worked 160 hours. It used to be 240 hours.”

That bonus program is for referrals made by QPS employees who are handling work assignments at area employers. There is a second program for referrals made by core staff members, those folks who work for QPS internally.

“It operates a little bit differently,” Pedersen said. “For these referrals we have a much more defined skill set that we need. If for example, our internal employee refers somebody that interviews with a corporate headquarters and they get hired on, the internal employee that referred them gets $1,000. Once the person that was referred works for 90 days, they get a $500 bonus.”

Immekus said in a statement issued by QPS that addressing this shortage of workers is a priority for everybody in the company he heads.

“Our recruiters are asking everyone they talk to for referrals,” he said, adding that with the unemployment rate near 4.1 percent nationally, more companies are turning to staffing firms to find them candidates. “If we find someone who is unemployed or underemployed, we have literally hundreds of jobs in each of our nearly 50 branches to offer them.”

Pedersen said the response to the bonus program locally has been excellent.

“We’ve had approximately 20 referrals from this office alone this year compared to maybe two the prior year,” she said. “We have one person who has earned four bonuses.”

About QPS

QPS was founded in 1985. It began as a two-person business but has grown fast in the last three decades. The company’s internal staff now numbers in excess of 330. According to information provided by QPS, it has more than 6,500 associate employees working for it each week. These individuals are placed at some 1,500 companies. QPS now has nearly 50 office locations throughout the Midwest.

QPS currently has light industrial, skilled, office and professional positions open in a variety of industries.