Like every company in the staffing industry, we didn’t know what to expect when a national emergency was declared in the United States concerning the Covid-19 pandemic in March. We grappled questions about how it would impact the economy, job market, our clients, and our company in the short- and long-terms and didn’t have the answers.
We did know that we needed to quickly assess, adapt and adjust many aspects of our operations to meet the evolving needs of our clients, candidates, and employees and make sure we were positioned to remain successful during these unprecedented times. To achieve those goals during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond, our leadership team, with input from people throughout the organization, focused on a strategic approach grounded in technology and engagement.
Here are several lessons I’ve learned over the past several months that will continue to guide our company into the future.
Continually invest in technology. We were well-positioned to seamlessly transition to working from home because of the technology installations and upgrades we put in place over the past year. This included providing every employee with a laptop, rolling out a videoconferencing platform, and installing messaging tools for instant communication. By having these resources already in place, we were able to quickly initiate a company-wide remote work environment.
Technology also helped us efficiently and effectively serve our clients and candidates. Many of the technology-driven practices that were implemented or expanded over the past several months will remain permanently in place. For example, we enhanced our applicant tracking system with software that enables us to send a mass email to a thousand candidates at once with a set of five standard questions. Based on the answers, we can determine whether a candidate moves forward.
Over the past several months, we’ve also strengthened our video recruiting process. Previously when we had many positions to fill, we’d hold a job fair where we could interview a thousand people in person over the course of a week. By moving more of the process online, we’ve doubled the number of interviews we can conduct per week and, as a result, filled more jobs more quickly. In addition, we record the video interviews and can review them at a later date.
Moving forward, we plan to leverage technology even more by extending it to customers as working from home becomes more common for many types of jobs. We’re collaborating with clients to conduct online group interviews. Clients can hire candidates, equip them with laptops, and set them up to work remotely. This approach, which was accelerated because of the pandemic, represents the future of staffing for many positions.
Consistently engage with customers, employees and peers. The Covid-19 crisis also re-enforced the importance of ongoing communication and engagement with customers and employees. Early on, we made it a practice to call each of our clients every few days to ask how they were doing, how their business was performing, and how we could be of assistance in any way. This personal outreach was important and beneficial to both our clients and our team.
Similarly, we focused on employee communications. For several weeks, we did a call each morning with staff throughout all of our offices and we continue to hold monthly town hall meetings via videoconference. We also implemented weekly virtual happy hours, including a “Battle of the Bridge” trivia-type game. Dozens of employees across the country participated, giving colleagues an opportunity to connect with one another in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise. These events will continue even once people are back in the office.
Another practice that I started since the beginning of the pandemic and am excited to continue is holding regular conversations with peers at other staffing companies. A group of us regularly shares best practices, challenges, and otherwise learn from one another through regular videoconferences and emails.
These past few months have presented our company and others with challenges unlike any before. At the same time, it’s provided an opportunity to take a step back, rethink how we approach various aspects of our business, and make changes that will position us well for the future. It’s also reminded me how fortunate we are to be a part of the staffing industry and to play an important role in the success of companies and candidates.