Last week we hit the road and headed down to the Tar Heel State for the American Staffing Association’s newly rebranded Staffing Connect East. Staffing Connect is ASA’s regional conference where agencies and staffing experts can come together at a smaller, more focused event to discuss staffing benchmarks, growth strategies, and industry best practices. Here are our 5 key takeaways from the sessions at Staffing Connect East this year.
1. Talent shortage: We know that your key pain point is a shortage of talent and you’re not alone. In May, unemployment was reported at 3.8%, and it hasn’t been that low since 2000. That, combined with a drop in labor force participation, is really impacting your ability to fill jobs. How do you communicate to job seekers to become an employer of choice and fill your talent pipeline? By changing the way you speak to your audience. Many websites describe agencies as a bridge to permanent employment or focus on offering flexibility to employees, but data from the New Language of Staffing Handbook, a report from ASA, shows that these don’t resonate with job seekers. They feel like it’s an oversell and not actually what will happen when they sign up with your agency. Echoed throughout the session was this simple reality: Job seekers need a job. Now. Period. This is what they care about and this is what they want to hear. Workers need help finding a job. Development and flexibility is aspirational and a nice to have, but shifting to messaging about how your agency can help them through the process of finding a job is going to help you stand out from the crowd.
2. Attracting Millennials: By 2020, Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce. Is your agency attracting and retaining them? You may need to tweak your messaging for this younger audience in an even different way than mentioned above. Millennials are looking for more than a paycheck—they’re looking for passion and a purpose, they’re also looking for instant gratification, and they’re looking for help, guidance, direction, and leadership. If you’re trying to attract more millennials to your agency, consider focusing on benefits that your agency can provide like coaching, mentorship, and career development. Attracting them with this message, establishing interest in the role with clear and concise job descriptions, and then qualifying them (in a digital, easy, self-service manner) will make your firm more attractive to Millennials.
3. Go mobile: Speaking of digital-savvy Millennials, when is the last time you checked out your agency’s website on your own smartphone? Sixty-two percent of candidates apply to jobs on their mobile device. If you haven’t been able to apply to your agency in less than 2 minutes, you’ve lost over 70% of your potential candidates. Candidates are going mobile! This industry is built on human interaction but finding ways to foster that and making it easy for people to raise their hand to connect with your agency on their smartphone is critical.
4. Reviewing and evaluating technology: For those who have been in the staffing industry for longer than some Millennials who have been around, think about a piece of technology that changed your business. Some that were mentioned in the room were fax machines, BlackBerry phones, and CareerBuilder or Monster. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is the next frontier of technology for agencies. Chat bots, automated interview scheduling tools, and intelligent, automated candidate matching are exciting new solutions being discussed in the staffing industry. Regardless of the innovative new technologies that you’re interested in exploring, we have one huge piece of advice for you: Stop trying to fit technology into your current staffing process…start allowing technology to help you improve your processes. We know many of you are experiencing tech fatigue–with so many options it can be difficult to evaluate what will actually work for your business. ASA has a Staffing Tech Center to help agencies understand the emerging technology and assess what will work for you.
5. Metrics that matter: Operational excellence is hard to achieve when you’re in the mindset of, “we’ve always done it this way.” If your goal is to drive growth at your agency, you need to use data to get to the next level. Identify important metrics, assess your performance today, and use data to inform change at your business. When setting your KPIs, start with company goals, then team goals, then individual goals. Then track trends and patterns which who’ll allow you to pinpoint areas that are working well and where you’re falling short. Defining metrics on both the client side and the employee side will help you drive accountability in all areas of your business and foster growth!
We truly enjoyed our time at ASA Staffing Connect East. This event was a great way to meet folks from almost every state on the East Coast but it was still small enough to make personal connections. If you’re an agency planning to attend ASA’s Midwest Conference this week in our backyard, Schaumburg, IL, let us know! We’d love to schedule time to connect or, at the very least, point you to some good deep dish pizza.
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