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Debbie Fledderjohann, President of Top Echelon Contracting

What differentiates you as a recruiter is the value you are able to provide to your clients and candidates.  Top Echelon Contracting, Inc., can help you provide another valuable tool to set your firm apart from your competitors.

You can now purchase affordable professional online training courses for your clients and candidates from Coggno, the premier Learning Management System (LMS) and online training marketplace, directly through the Top Echelon Contracting (TEC) website.  There you will find over 200 courses representing a wide range of topics, including business development, software, social media, human resources, health, safety, and more.

Here are examples of online training courses that can help your candidates, your clients, and even your own professional development:


  • Excel Intermediate Course
  • Introduction to Gmail
  • How to Communicate Effectively on the Telephone and in Writing

Client Companies

  • Understanding COBRA/HIPAA for Supervisors Course
  • Understanding Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
  • Wage and Hour


  • Recruiting, Hiring, and Selecting Employees
  • High-Impact Business Planning
  • Social Networking Essentials

Visit our Online Training page on our website at to see a full list of courses that we have handpicked for your use.  If you do not see what you’re looking for, please contact us at to see if we can find the course you need.

Pricing for the courses starts as low as $12.  You can purchase as few or as many courses as you need.  When you purchase Coggno training through TEC’s website, will also receive a free Learning Management System, or LMS.  All courses will be available on-demand, 24/7, and can be accessed from any Internet connection on an individual’s computer or mobile device.

This new offering is an extension of our Recruiter Training Center that provides training videos, whitepapers, webinars, and more to help recruiters establish and grow their contract staffing services.

Debbie Fledderjohann, President of Top Echelon ContractingEmployer-sponsored healthcare insurance is becoming more complex and expensive every year.  Whether or not you have employees or offer healthcare insurance, this is a trend that WILL impact your recruiting business.

In the past decade, health insurance premiums for employer-sponsored plans have gone up 80-100%.  Nearly half of the employers surveyed for the Aflac Workforce Report listed cost containment, including healthcare insurance costs, as their top business concern, compared to 28% in 2011.

“The research shows how the need to control costs is driving workforce decisions,” said Teresa White, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Aflac Columbus.  “For four consecutive years, we have witnessed this growing trend and can foresee the possible ramifications for the U.S. workforce.”

Why Health Insurance Premiums Are Increasing

Those workforce decisions are impacting everyone in the employment arena, including independent recruiters.  But before we discuss that, let’s look at what is feeding this upward trend in premiums.  The first place people tend to look is Obamacare, or more formally, the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Forbes magazine recently listed four factors related to the ACA that impact premiums:

  1. Commercial underwriting restrictions—Insurers can no longer apply a number of techniques they have used to lower their costs.  They must now offer coverage to participants’ children up to age 26, and they can no longer apply pre-exisitng condition exclusions or lifetime limits on coverage, for example.
  2. Insurers can no longer base premiums on age.
  3. The ACA applied new taxes and fees to insurance companies that are typically passed to employers.
  4. Plans must now include “Essential Health Benefits,” including ambulatory patient services, emergency services, substance abuse disorder services, etc.

However, the ACA is NOT the only thing to blame. Here are some other catalysts:

  • High insurance claims
  • Aging population
  • Unhealthy lifestyles
  • Costly technological advances
  • Inaccessibility of healthcare pricing to allow consumers to make cost-effective choices

Small employers are taking an even harder hit because their participant pool is not large enough to absorb high medical bills.  One participant with high claims can easily result in a massive premium increase at a smaller organization.

Cost-Containment Methods

Employers have to find a way to cover these high, and often unexpected, costs.  They are being forced to make difficult decisions that impact the entire business, including the following:

  1. Shifting costs to employees—To minimize the premium increases, many employers have been forced to choose plan designs with higher deductibles, co-pays, coinsurance, etc.  The number of workers covered under high deductible plans has quadrupled in the past 7 years, according to The Kaiser Family Foundation.  Some employers are contributing a lower percentage toward employees’ benefits premiums, as well.  The end result of these techniques is shifting more costs to the workers.
  2. Shifting costs to customers—Ultimately, some of the cost also shifts to a business’s customers in the form of higher prices on goods and services.  However, there is a limit to how high a company can raise prices while remaining competitive.
  3. Staffing decisions—You are probably already aware that some companies are freezing hiring and/or reducing employee hours to part-time to avoid the upcoming employer mandate of Obamacare.  While the effective date of the mandate keeps getting extended, employers with 50 or more full-time employees will be required to provide healthcare insurance to those employees.  But employers under the mandate aren’t the only ones to employ these techniques as premium increases affect companies of all sizes.  Any company grappling with high insurance costs will be looking at these and other methods (e.g., freezing raises) to reduce the impact of healthcare costs.
  4. Eliminating healthcare—Some employers will just drop healthcare coverage altogether, even if that means facing fines under the Obamacare employer mandate.  For some, it will be cheaper to pay the fines than offer coverage.

Impact on Recruiting Firms

Recruiters should also brace themselves for the impact of healthcare costs.  You may notice, for example, that more candidates will weigh the TOTAL compensation package in their decision to take a position, not just salary.   This is especially important now that the ACA is requiring most Americans to have health insurance under the individual mandate.  Therefore, negotiations may be more difficult if quality benefits are not available.

Direct-hire job orders could also decrease as employers try to contain costs.  Contract job orders, though, could increase because companies will still need to get work done.  This is likely one reason why contract staffing continues to grow.  If your firm does not already offer contracting, the time to start is now.

Recruiters who employ in-house staff and/or contractors will be more directly impacted by healthcare costs.  If you are a larger firm, you may be required to offer coverage under the employer mandate of the ACA.  But even if you do not meet the 50-employee threshold, you may need benefits to attract quality contractors.  You will have to weigh the cost and administrative burden of offering the benefits versus the candidates you may lose by not.  Another option is to outsource the employment of your contractors to a contract staffing back-office, such as Top Echelon Contracting, that provides contractor benefits.  That can be a great way to brand yourself as a recruiting firm of choice without taking on the complexities of offering healthcare insurance.

The cost of healthcare is a problem that is not going away.  You will want to remain educated on the issue and put yourself in the best position to succeed in this increasingly challenging environment.  The best way to do that is to become a sole-source provider who can provide all of your clients’ staffing needs by offering a variety of options, including contract staffing.

(Editor’s note: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should NOT in any way be construed as legal advice.)

By DEBBIE FLEDDERJOHANN, President of Top Echelon Contracting

Debbie Fledderjohann, President of Top Echelon Contracting

Driven by a presidential decree, the Department of Labor (DOL) is working hard to revise the laws regarding who can be exempt from overtime.  If you have contractors who are currently classified as exempt, you will want to stay up on the changes.

In March, President Obama issued a memorandum asking the DOL to update the regulations surrounding who can legally be considered exempt from overtime.  It was recently announced that the new, proposed regulations are expected to be published in November.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), most American workers must be paid at a rate of 1.5 times their regular pay rate for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek.  Some employees can be denied overtime if they qualify for the executive, administrative, and professional exemptions, otherwise known as the “white collar exemptions.”

President Obama is seeking to make fewer people ineligible for overtime under these exemptions.  To that end, his memorandum to Secretary of Labor Tom Perez directed the DOL to do the following:

  1. “Modernize and streamline” the overtime regulations to make them more consistent with the original intent of the FLSA.
  2. Address the changes in the modern workforce.
  3. Make them easier for both employers and workers to understand.

We will not know the content of these changes until the proposed regulations are released, but they will undoubtedly include changes to the “minimum salary” and “duties” tests that must be met for a position to be considered exempt.  A Fact Sheet released by the White House states that the minimum salary requirement has failed to keep up with inflation.  In fact, it has only been changed twice in 40 years, currently standing at $455 per week, which is below the poverty level for a worker with a family of four.  Someone could even fall under the minimum wage if they had to work 65 or more hours per week and were only paid the minimum salary required by the white collar exemptions.  In addition, that salary threshold makes it so that only 12% of Americans qualify for overtime, compared with 65% in 1975.  Experts believe the salary threshold could be increased to as high as $1,000 per week.

They also expect an update to the “duties tests.”  Each exemption spells out what duties must be performed to allow the employee to be exempt.  For example, workers under the Executive Exemption must be managing the enterprise or a department or subdivision and regularly directing the work of at least two other full-time employees.  The duties tests will likely become more specific, possibly dictating an exact percent of time a worker must spend doing certain duties to qualify.

Even if you outsource the employment of your contractors to a back-office service, this is an important issue.  You will want to be sure to do the following:

  1. Keep up-to-date on the regulations.  Again, the changes will not happen overnight.  The DOL spent two years deciding on changes for the last revision in 2004.  Still, you will want to keep this issue on your radar so that when the regulations are updated, you are ready.
  2. Educate clients.  If you have exempt contractors placed at any of your client companies, they need to be made aware that you may need to increase some contractors’ salaries to keep them as exempt, or you may have to make them nonexempt.  Either way, your clients’ costs could increase, and they will likely appreciate a heads-up, especially considering the new regulations could apply to some of their direct hire staff, as well.
  3. Follow current federal AND state laws.  While waiting for the new regulations, it’s important that you and your clients continue to comply with the DOL’s current regulations.  Don’t forget rules in certain states, such as California and New York.  For example, in California, the salary of an exempt worker can be no less than twice the minimum wage for a full-time employee.  The minimum is currently $640, but will increase to $800 in 2016.

Hopefully, we will have a better picture of the new regulations this fall when the proposed regulations are supposed to be released.  We will be sure to keep you posted as this issue continues to develop.

(Editor’s note: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should NOT in any way be construed as legal advice.)

For many years, The Cornerstone, the newsletter of Top Echelon Contracting, was sent to the recruiters of Top Echelon Network.

Contract Split PlacementsThe Cornerstone was eventually discontinued in favor of another newsletter, Contracting Corner, which is now published once a quarter (click here to access past issues).

However, we at Top Echelon Network still run contract split placements made by Preferred Member recruiters in select issues of The Pinnacle Newsletter Blog . . . and this is one of those select issues!

Below are are recent contract split placements made by Top Echelon Network recruiters and handled by Top Echelon Contracting, the recruiter’s back-office solution.

Congratulations to the recruiters involved!  We hope there are many more contract splits in your future!


Contract Split Placements Made by Preferred Member Recruiters

Multiplier Used

Agency Code

Client Recruiter

Recruiter’s Firm Name

Agency Code

Candidate Recruiter

Recruiter’s Firm Name

Job Title


1.62 AN78 David M. Sgro True North Consultants, Inc. BT16 Bob Small Carroll Technology Services Inc. EDI Systems Analyst $12.92/hr
1.65 IN73 Mike Niedbalski Integritas Search IN80 Cynthia Strzelecki Spyglass Search Accounting Manager $7.68/hr
1.54 CA49 Linda Blakemore Atlantic Pacific Group, Inc. BG88 Hani Mussa KnowPeople Inc. Contract Recruiter $11.80/hr

Many of the Top Producers in Top Echelon Network have added contract staffing to their recruiting firm’s business model.  Not only that, but they’ve also taken advantage of the services provided by Top Echelon Contracting.

For more information about contract staffing and the back-office services that Top Echelon Contracting provides, call (888) 627-3678, Ext. 2.