A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the minority of staffing firms that engage in illegal and unethical behavior, giving the industry as a whole a bad reputation. This week I’m going to offer some thoughts to counter the negative view.

Staffing Talk reposted my piece and one of the comments got me thinking. I had just read this quote from Sophocles on Forbes.com: “opportunity has power over all things.” Then I read Gregg Dourgarian’s comment on my post about the many people who come “to this great country and find great opportunity and financial success much to the credit of staffing agencies.” There was the word opportunity again, twice in a matter of minutes.

Opportunity. This is what a job is at its most basic: an opportunity to provide for oneself and one’s family. The satisfaction and sense of dignity that comes with an honest day’s work for pay are real and they can be the difference-maker in a person’s sense of wellbeing. Obviously you need money to meet your basic physical needs of food, clothing, and shelter. But it provides more of an opportunity than just that. We are not usually as happy if we don’t feel like productive members of society. Few people really want to rely on welfare or unemployment; they want to work. We crave that sense of satisfaction that comes from a job well done.

So it’s not just the opportunity to make money that ContributionQuotematters. Meaningful work gives us a chance to contribute to something larger than ourselves – the success of your department, your company, your industry, your community. In survey after survey people rank the chance to do something interesting and worthwhile as highly important to them. They want to be a part of a team and to contribute. To be sure, there are many ways outside of “work” that people find satisfaction and do things to improve their lives and the world around them -- but we want that opportunity at work, too.

And so I come back to Sophocles’ quote. “Opportunity has power over all things.” Opportunity is what changes things from bad to good. It is what gives us hope when things are not going well. We all understand that something will change; we all hope and wait for the opportunity that will eventually arise to lift us out and propel us forward. When opportunity arrives in the form of a job it has power over many things. It can literally solve problems. Opportunity can pay the bills and thwart sadness, worry, and fear. This may sound a little corny, but there is a real truth to it.

When you think about how important, how critical having a job is, you can’t help but be proud to be in an industry dedicated to helping people find work. I’ve spent the past 25 years doing just that and I am proud. Justifiably so, I think. Each day at ATR we have the opportunity to change someone’s life. Whether it is helping a new graduate take the first step in their career, finding a seasoned professional the next rung up on the career ladder, or placing someone in a position that will help them transition between full time employment, it is unbelievably satisfying. I hear it from my employees all the time.

So I hope the next time you read an article about some bad behavior in the staffing industry you’ll remember the bigger picture. Ours is an industry that helps people -- that links those in need of an opportunity to those who can provide it. We all need to remain vigilant against the bad apples but I will not let them define the industry. Ours is one of hope and opportunity and millions of people benefit from our services. That’s something to remember and be proud of.

Tags: Jerry Brenholz, Gregg Dourgarian, Industry, ATR International