It’s safe to say this was the most unique Staffing World we’ve ever been a part of. Staffing World is the biggest staffing conference of the year, hosted by the American Staffing Association (ASA). We were originally scheduled to be in Nashville, Tennessee together, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASA pivoted and hosted the conference virtually.
One thing is certain, there was no shortage of great content this year. Here are four topics that were top of mind for everyone at this year’s Virtual Staffing World:
- Diversity & Inclusion
- Consumerization of Staffing
- Going Branchless
- Retention Strategies in a COVID-19 World
Diversity & Inclusion
I was so happy to see a focus on diversity and inclusion throughout keynotes, sessions, and casual conversation at the virtual coffee house. The conversations varied from diversity across the industry as a whole to tips on making your specific agency more inclusive.
One particularly interesting session focused on strategies for hiring and retaining diverse talent, both internally at your agency as well as the workforce you place. In that session, Candy Whitaker from Signature Consultants said it beautifully, “You can recruit diverse talent and make all of the hires you want, but if you don’t focus on making real change internally, you’ll see turnover from that diverse team you worked hard to attract.” Diversity at your staffing agency doesn’t just mean hiring different types of people from different backgrounds. Your agency must make it a priority to be an inclusive, supportive environment to retain all of that great new talent.
One specific way to build a more inclusive workplace is by starting Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s). ERGs give your team the opportunity to educate other team members on their culture, and allows them to grow together. Employees don’t have to join an ERG that is specific to them, in fact, Misty Dervic from Randstad said they encourage people to join different groups to learn more about others and network with people they might not otherwise have a chance to spend time with. Don’t feel like you have to start by creating dozens of ERGs. Start small with one or two groups that your teams are excited about, and go from there!
No matter what initiatives your team is focusing on in 2020 and beyond, it’s important to remember that diversity and inclusion isn’t just about someone’s race, gender, or ethnicity. It’s also about their ability, backgrounds, lifestyles, and experiences. When everyone feels included everyone wins!
Consumerization of Staffing
Last year, Becky Frankiewicz, President of ManpowerGroup North America gave my personal favorite keynote at Staffing World and it was focused on this topic in particular. We’ve all been talking about this behavior for a while, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are acting more like consumers than ever before. They want to be able to find work whenever they want, on-demand without driving to your branch. One session shared that 93% of candidates expect some aspects of their search to be able to be completed online. Sidebar: This is your annual friendly reminder to try applying to your own agency through a mobile browser on your smartphone. It’s probably not as easy as you think. I digress!
One important caveat that is sometimes overlooked when talking about the topic of consumerization is that all work cannot (and should not) be on-demand. And that’s ok! On-demand labor has been an important part of the labor force for a very long time, but the “Uberization” of ALL work at your staffing agency is unrealistic. We’ve seen this from our clients and prospects first-hand as well. It doesn’t make sense for every type of staffing agency to build their own digital staffing marketplace. We don’t expect to see CEOs downloading an app to claim their next senior leadership gig, and that’s ok. But, like their gig-economy loving counterparts, CEOs still have an expectation that their experience with your agency is simple, streamlined, personalized, and on whatever channel they prefer.
Our CEO, Rick Bowman, gave a Tech Talk about adapting to remote branches and we heard a lot about this topic throughout the week from other folks as well. The reality is, this “new normal” of your team working remotely, at least partially, isn’t going away any time soon.
We often focus on digitizing the candidate process, but finding ways to take your internal processes online will benefit recruiters and make your client and candidate experience more seamless. As you may already be seeing, it’s not as simple as forcing your in-branch operations into a digital world. If you haven’t looked into finding ways to automate or digitize some of your in-branch experiences, you’re behind the ball.
However, we know that looking for technology is difficult. Layer that with the uncertainty that we’re all dealing with, it can feel easier to just stick with the status quo until the world goes back to “normal.” When looking at where to invest in automation first, consider what high-volume, repetitive tasks can be automated and start there. What are recruiters doing over and over and over again that take up valuable time they could be spending on something else. Our clients are seeing benefits from automating the fill process with our digital staffing platform (through controls and qualifications, of course). For more on that, check out our Digital Staffing Technology Buyer’s Guide to see if this type of technology could be a fit for your organization.
Retention Strategies in a COVID-19 World
On a similar topic, the staffing industry is not known for flexibility in hours or working remotely and this pandemic has taught a big lesson in understanding. Life is going to happen and you need to be able to support your team. There will be illness and childcare concerns and technology problems and, sadly, times of grief. Rigid rules around time and attendance drive good employees away.
From a day-to-day perspective, your team needs the right tech to support its operations from wherever they work, safely. Now is not the time to be stingy with expensing their high-speed internet or creating fake emails to keep getting free trials of Zoom; give them what they need. And it’s time to evaluate how all your other technology supports them. Does it work for or against them? Have they developed workarounds and dedicate time to double-entry just to use the tech you have in place?
I realize there is a lot of interconnectedness throughout the trending topics from this year’s virtual Staffing World. It can seem like the industry is changing so rapidly but know that any steps that you, as a leader, are making at your agency to improve diversity and inclusion, remote work, and a worker-centric mentality are making a positive impact.
While I understand the need for hosting the conference virtually this year and I greatly appreciated ASA making sure my hard work in the kickboxing gym translated to my avatar’s physique, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in person next year in Denver. We’re people people, after all!
I’d love to hear about your experience at this year’s virtual Staffing World! Add me on LinkedIn or feel free to drop me a note!