By: Geno Cutolo, CEO, Staffmark Group
I’ve heard this analogy used to describe COVID-19’s impact: “We’re all in the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat.” As a staffing company, we have seen firsthand the varying impact on employers and employees.
For some of our clients, demand dropped significantly at the start of the pandemic but has now returned to normal levels. For others, demand and supply chain fluctuations have proven difficult, such as situations where they have had to lay off staff and then rehire to meet changing needs.
The impact on employees has also varied. Some have worked beyond the point of exhaustion, while others have faced job loss. The unemployment rate reached 14.7% in April 2020, the highest since the Great Depression. The latest unemployment rate was 6.7%. While this is an improvement, it is still close to double the 3.5% rate in February 2020. The labor force participation rate (the number of workers employed or seeking employment divided by the working population) also remains down. It dropped to 61.5% and is 1.9% lower than February.
All of us at Staffmark Group feel the calling and responsibility to help our clients and employees weather this storm. To help you better understand how our team is rising to the challenge, I’d like to share some tools we are using to aid this effort.
When the pandemic hit, it became clear that technology was going to play a central role. Because of our commitment to agility, solid infrastructure, and investment in emerging technology, we were able to quickly transition to a remote environment that was seamless for our clients and talent. Our teams have worked hard to improve our capabilities through technology, including:
- A new mobile app that sends instant notifications to qualified talent about new job opportunities to expedite recruiting and filling orders
- Conversational AI to help vet qualified candidates, automate the recruiting process, and receive actionable insights through multi-channel engagement
- Chatbox functionality to guide candidates through the automated application process
- An assessment platform that provides job evaluation tools to evaluate skills, predict performance, and find the best fit for employees and clients
- A cloud-based interviewing solution that uses test questionnaire with audio and video interviewing
- A virtual onboarding process with auto-populated fields from application and employee confirmation via a mobile app
- A talent engagement and communication platform that allows us to connect with our employees via email, SMS, or text on a predetermined timeline
To continue to improve accessibility and the client and candidate experience, technology enhancements will remain an area of focus for Staffmark Group.
In periods of economic uncertainty, access to timely and relevant data becomes increasingly necessary. It helps businesses make informed decisions and face the future with confidence.
To ensure that the work we are doing is making a difference, we recently conducted research to gather information about the impact of the pandemic on employers and their relationship with staffing agencies. This study was conducted by our parent company RGF Staffing in partnership with Hanover Research, along with our sister companies, The CSI Companies (USA) and Chandler Macleod Group (Asia Pacific). This research led to interesting insights in the staffing markets in the US and the Asia-Pacific region, including the fact that many companies are seeing an increased need for contingent-to-perm placement candidates. Nearly half expect to use a staffing agency to fill those roles after the pandemic.
The study also found that despite disruptions brought on by the pandemic, diversity and inclusion remain a key focus for organizations. In fact, 97% cite diversity, inclusion, and social responsibility as important, with 41% saying it is extremely important. Staffing agencies can play a significant role in building a diverse workforce, with 53% saying that they expect their staffing agency to help find diverse candidates to meet their goals.
To learn more about this global research project in partnership with RGF Staffing, please click here to download the report.
Ready for 2021
2020 hasn’t been easy for anyone, yet I am optimistic that 2021 is going to be a year of recovery and growth. It is reassuring to read that others in the industry are hopeful as well. The majority of respondents in the GRID 2020 COVID-19 Staffing Industry Impact Survey reported that they expect the economy and business performance to improve in the second half of 2020 into 2021, and the Federal Reserve estimates that the economy will return to a healthier 5.5% unemployment rate in the New Year.
Regardless of what the coming year holds, I know that we have the right people, technology, and resources in place to meet any challenge. I am proud of how the Staffmark Group team has worked together to weather the storm, and I have every confidence that they have what it takes to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
I hope you too feel optimistic about the future. If not, please know that we are here to help in any way that we can. There are still many difficult days ahead, but working together, we’ve got this.
Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year,
CEO, Staffmark Group