New strategies for a new world of staffing: SIA President kicks off Executive Forum


Strategies that worked in the old world — the time before Covid — won’t work in the post-pandemic world, SIA President Barry Asin said.

“The world that will come out of this crisis will not look like the one before,” Asin said in a keynote address today kicking off the virtual Executive Forum North America. “The strategies that worked in the old world won’t work in the new.”

Covid ushered in greater use of remote work and turned the economy upside down. However, long-term trends, including technology, were developing even before the pandemic.

Today’s environment is defined by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity — or VUCA — and change is accelerating. The economy, remote work and technology rank among them.

Still, Asin cited a bright spot: As vaccinations continue, US gross domestic product will bounce back. SIA estimates GDP growth of 6.4% in an upside case, 4.4% in a base case and 1.0% in a downside case.

Temp jobs are also bouncing back faster than non-temp positions. And some sectors are booming; travel nursing revenue was up a median 85% in SIA’s latest Pulse report.

Overall, US staffing revenue is forecast to grow 12% in 2021 after falling 17% in 2020.

And while the economy will grow, work from home appears likely to remain in some form. Only 2% of temps worked remotely before the pandemic and now it’s 50%.

“I think this will be a sea change in the way they think about work,” Asin said.

Also driving change: Technology.

Asin noted that in the 2008 recession — the last time of significant crisis — use of VMS boomed at client companies. Only 24% had a VMS before the recession in 2007 while 64% had a VMS in 2010.

The workforce ecosystem is also seeing a tsunami of change in the adoption of online platforms, which enable more direct, self-service connections between enterprises and talent. This was underway even before the pandemic; however, since the start of Covid, customers have been driving growth among public platforms including Upwork Inc. (NASDAQ: UPWK) and Fiverr International Ltd. (NYSE: FVRR).

Healthcare staffing firm Aya Healthcare implemented a self-serve platform model in the second quarter of 2020 and saw explosive growth with headcount up 338%.

Aya CEO Alan Braynin will be on the keynote panel, “Leadership in a New World,” tomorrow.

Asin also said diversity and inclusion remain top of mind.

“It’s not just about diversity ownership of others in the supply chain; more and more it’s about candidate diversity,” he said.

The Executive Forum continues this week.

Today will also feature a keynote by Greg McKeown, New York Times best-selling author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, on growing your staffing business using an essentialist’s approach to success.

In addition to Aya’s Braynin, the keynote panel kicking off the virtual conference on Wednesday will feature Christophe Catoir, president, Adecco, of The Adecco Group; Kate Duchene, CEO of Resources Global Professionals; and Karen Fichuk, CEO, North Americas, Randstad nv.

Charlene Li, New York Times best-selling author, entrepreneur and the founder and senior fellow at Altimeter will deliver a keynote speech titled “The Disruption Mindset: Why Some Organizations Transform While Other Fail,” also on Wednesday.

For more information on the executive Forum, click here.