Reopening for Business

A Checklist for Staffing Firms

I’m writing this on Monday, April 24. Last week, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee began to reopen. Oklahoma, Alaska and Texas were close behind, and in the coming weeks, all of America will begin to get back to business (check out this site for an interactive list of when states are opening: https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/us/states-reopen-coronavirus-trnd/).

But what will this mean for the staffing industry?

Over the past two months, our industry has seen an average decline of between 25% and 40% in billable hours (based on an unscientific survey of Haley Marketing clients). Some companies, such as those that focused on providing essential workers, actually saw an increase in business while those serving hard-hit sectors like hospitality saw much more significant losses.

As states continue to reopen, what will be the impact on jobs…and the use of staffing services? The answer is hard to forecast. Here are a few guesses at what may happen:

  • Most companies will likely open slowly, operating at well less than 100% capacity. This will depress the demand for talent in the short-term.
  • Furloughed employees will be the first to be rehired, especially by small businesses that need to use their PPP loans over eight weeks to ensure those loans are forgiven.
  • Many companies will find it difficult to bring workers back. Some workers will need to stay home due to illness or quarantine. Others may be resistant to coming back to work out of fear. But the biggest challenge will likely be that many Americans are making more on unemployment, so where is the incentive to go back to work?
  • Demand for talent is also likely to be greatly diminished for an extended time period (very likely through the remainder of 2020 and into 2021). Why? Because consumer spending is down. Less demand for goods and services means less demand for talent.
  • Many jobs will remain remote, and staffing companies will need to expand their ability to provide remote talent.

All in all, we will be facing an economy that feels a lot more like 2008 than the beginning of 2020. With that in mind, here are a few recommendations to help your company prepare to compete in the COVID Recovery economy.

A Checklist for Recovery

Step 1: Plan for Current Clients

  • Schedule a call with every client you billed in 2020 (and the last half of 2019).
  • Discuss their plans for reopening, anticipated volume of work, and expected staffing needs.
  • Discuss their strategies for bringing people back and potential need for supplemental staff, which could include fill-ins for absenteeism and people on extended unemployment, additional support for key team members, and increased talent needs for specific departments or remote workers.
  • Evaluate the strength of your relationships with each client and strive to deepen and broaden relationships by connecting with more departments and more decision-makers in each company.
  • Outline a 90 to 180 staffing plan for each client, showing the expected hiring needs, talent sources, likely talent gaps, and strategies for filling those gaps.
  • Look for ways to move up the value chain by playing a more strategic role in helping your clients come back online and strengthen their operations (e.g., offering the remote equivalent of an onsite, providing RPO services, outsourcing business functions and/or providing project-based solutions).
  • Begin to strategically recruit for the talent your clients will need, so you can become the fastest to respond when they have hiring needs.

Step 2: Review Your Prospects

  • Clearly define who your ideal clients are right now. First, consider traditional demographic criteria such as the company size, industry, location, and types of hiring they do. Then, evaluate their attitude toward recovery. Are your best clients the companies that will take an aggressive approach to reopening or those that are more risk-averse and move more cautiously?
  • Which decision-makers will you target? HR? Department heads? Front line supervisors? Business owners and more senior level executives? Or all of the above?
  • Do your salespeople know the right message to send to each target decision maker? Do they understand the value staffing services can offer to a business coming back online? Do they understand (and can they clearly articulate) the unique value your company can offer?
  • Re-evaluate your sales strategy. How will you approach prospects? Will you target a specific decision-maker to open the door? Will you rely on traditional cold calls and networking or will you implement an integrated direct marketing approach or account-based marketing?
  • Have you trained your sales team how to sell remotely? Do they have the tools to reach staffing decision-makers—and the understanding of the best ways to use those tools? Have you created a structured approach to sales outreach?
  • Do you have a marketing strategy to support your sales plan—a plan to use email, SEO, PPC, content marketing, and social media to increase your company’s visibility with your ideal prospects, establish or strengthen your positioning, and generate inbound sales leads?
  • Have you clearly defined your sales goals and activity expectations? What KPIs will you track? How will your salespeople report on those activities?

Step 3: Be Proactive About Recruiting

  • It may seem counterintuitive to focus on recruiting with staffing demand is low, but now is actually an ideal time to be more deliberate and aggressive about your recruiting.
  • What types of people are your clients likely to need? How can you start building a network of these people now?
  • Are they already in your ATS? Do you have current information or a plan to update your records?
  • Can you start proactively recruiting now with low-cost outreach via social media, networking or building referrals?
  • Do you have a plan in place to nurture relationships with your candidates…even when you don’t have a job for them? This could include job alerts, sharing educational information by email, text and your website, and just finding other ways to keep in touch.
  • As you find top candidates, do you have a plan to skill market them?
  • Can you create a pool of talent who are willing to accept last-minute assignments and then market a “Talent On Demand” service to employers who are likely to be facing higher levels of absenteeism than usual?
  • What strategies will you use to attract people to come off unemployment? Can you partner with clients to create financial incentives (e.g., sign-on bonuses, assignment completion bonuses or retention rewards) that encourage people to start working…and stay working?

There is no “right answer”

We’re in the middle of a period of completely uncharted territory. The reopening of America will not be like the Great Recession, the post 9/11 downturn, or anything else anyone working in the world has ever experienced.

But that uncertainty is a good thing. It means that you have a chance to write the rules…to create the strategies that will work for your clients, your company, and your team members. You may discover incredible opportunities in new types of clients, new industries, and new approaches to delivering staffing services.

One thing we know for sure. It will not be business as usual. The winners in the coming months and years will be the companies that are smart, aggressive, and really focused on helping employers and job seekers to solve problems through the use of staffing services.

As an industry, there is so much we can do to help put America back to work!

Need more ideas to help your company grow in the coming months?

Check out our COVID Recovery Resources where you’ll find on-demand webinars, summaries of some of the best advice in the last 15 years for dealing with economic downturns, free eBooks, and six special offers from Haley Marketing on discounted and low-cost marketing services.

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