SIA’s Coronavirus Playbook: Survive — and thrive — through the pandemic


The US staffing industry, as well as the entire global economy, has been acutely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. SIA’s recently released “Coronavirus Playbook for US Staffing Firms” report can help staffing providers assess the altered landscape and make critical strategic and tactical decisions to protect their workers and grow their businesses.

In April, temporary help services jobs fell by 30.9% year over year, more than double the 12.9% decline for US jobs overall. Nevertheless, job losses appear to be stabilizing as state economies gradually reopen in May.

“This concise report highlights timeless business fundamentals for navigating economic shocks, along with benchmarks from SIA surveys and public staffing companies that gauge the pandemic’s impact on the US staffing industry,” said Timothy Landhuis, SIA’s director of research, North America.

The Coronavirus Playbook details actions staffing firms can take to survive, navigate and thrive during the Covid-19 global pandemic, which are organized into three themes — protecting your workers, protecting your business and growing your business. The focus areas range from health and safety practices to financial management techniques to strategic positioning for the future.

Protecting workers: Monitor evolving federal and state health guidelines, as well as leverage the growing body of private-sector knowledge and best practices for reducing virus spread in various industry and workplace settings.

Protecting your business: Prioritize the liquidity and solvency of a business via disciplined financial management, cost control, collections and taking advantage of government aid.

Growing your business: Investigate how to pivot operations to serve new clients or deliver new services to existing clients. Staffing firms should also consider making technology investments to further adapt their businesses.

The report also features benchmarks from publicly held staffing firms, targeted data and additional insights into how firms have navigated past recessions and recoveries.

Some staffing industry executives have pointed out that times of disruption can be among the best times to roll out new technology, new processes and new business models. “The reason is that because the status quo has been disrupted, people are having to innovate on a daily basis and rebuild their routines, making them much more open to change,” the report states. “Put another way, there is less resistance from organizational inertia and the incentives have flipped for key stakeholders.”

In addition, the Playbook includes commentary from 86 US staffing firms in the form of open-answer responses that were submitted to SIA’s April Pulse Survey on how they have responded to the pandemic. They include such statements as:

  • “We are trying to market more to metropolitan areas that we know have or will be hit hard. We are also making sure that all of our providers are signing attestations stating that they don’t have any Covid-19 symptoms, and if they do, we will not allow them to work until they have taken the test or quarantined for at least two weeks.”
  • “We are evaluating all costs; reaching out to clients; adjusting BD efforts to be appropriate; searching for all open job orders.”
  • “We have increased communications with clients, internal staff and consultants to keep everyone informed and assist in any way we can. We ensure everyone has equipment and is able to work from home and provide equipment where necessary. We have been actively reaching out to build our pipeline with potential consultants, clients and alumni.”

SIA corporate members can access the full report online.