Get ready for staffing whiplash. In the initial economic uncertainty around Covid-19, employers made staffing cuts to stay solvent. But as the economy opens, expect a wave of demand for contingent labor that can provide overnight velocity to businesses hoping to regain what was lost during the shutdown.
People are a company’s greatest asset, and there are companies demonstrating they share that belief. It’s the reason Ford has transitioned from churning out F-150s to producing ventilators for the frontlines and why, instead of laying off his seamstresses in the face of decreasing couture sales, Christian Siriano kept his staff and instructed them to start making hospital gowns. Every move we make should prioritize the people who comprise our businesses.
Here’s how staffing agencies can maximize their investments during the downturn:
Keep them warm – Let your candidates know they’re top of mind. Reach out with compassion and creativity to let them know you’ll be ready to recruit them as jobs start coming back. Consider a warm and relevant drip campaign, a survey asking candidates how you can best support them, or consider picking up the phone to check in on your candidates and their families. Never underestimate the power of human touch.
Use tech – If you’re already using chatbots for pre-screening, pivot the technology to do outreach keeping candidates engaged. Chatbots are not the one-trick pony from just a couple years ago. They can do everything from reallocating hours to updating a candidate’s information or status right from a text. Since most staffing firms will want to know who is still in the market and ready to work, chatbots can be a helpful tool to scale recruiter outreach to focus efforts on the right candidates.
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Get nimble – Just because a worker is packing inventory in a warehouse one day doesn’t mean they can’t be moved in a different role the next day. Use this as a time to invest in your talent pool by giving them growth opportunities. By becoming familiar with your candidates and their talent, you’re protecting your greatest asset, keeping them gainfully employed, and perhaps even up/reskilling them in the process. It’s critical to retain talent even when orders are few and far between. That way, when the economy opens back up, you won’t be blinded by the increased cost to acquire new talent.
Advocate – If you have a great candidate but no work to offer them, look outside your organization for non-traditional working relationships. Coopetition, working with those with whom you’re technically in competition, is a great tool to use and it only serves to benefit everyone involved. For example, the CHROs of four leading companies recently joined forces to stand up a CHRO exchange, which puts candidates first and taps into a ready to go, pre-vetted candidate pool. Your biggest ally in this or any economic downturn is often the person you least expect.
Train – Sometimes all that’s standing between a candidate and a new job is a few hours of training or on the job experience. The fear of upskilling talent with the worry of losing the investment can paralyze candidate growth in staffing. Start by helping your candidates get the training they need for work that’s available in house or outside. The more you invest in your employees, the greater your payoff will be in the long run. They’ll be more equipped to fill orders and will be much more sticky.
Communicate your value
During an average, non-pandemic week, America’s staffing companies provide 3 million temporary and contract employees with work. We are an absolutely critical part of America’s business ecosystem. But sometimes businesses forget how invaluable our role is. Be sure you’re communicating the value you provide to companies. Communicate that staffing companies will remove the burden of compliance and benefits and onboard high-quality candidates quickly so that businesses can get back to growing.
This is no time for hand-wringing. Instead, use this time to be proactive and prepare. In the months and years ahead, America will be turning to us for help. Let’s give the nation our best.