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Steve Isenberg

Staffing Firms Strategies to Weather the Economic Turndown

Posted on: July 28, 2020

By: Steve Isenberg

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), in a statement from early June, the U.S. is officially experiencing an economic recession. The organization concluded that the “unprecedented magnitude of the decline in employment and production, and its broad reach across the entire economy, warrants the designation of this episode as a recession, even if it turns out to be briefer than earlier contractions.”

While the general definition of recession used by many economists refers to a decline in GDP in back-to-back quarters, they defer the task of officially declaring a recession to the NBER.

Economists note that the specific factors leading up to this economic slowdown—the swiftness of how it commenced for one—are different from previous economic downturns and may lead to a different outcome.

One thing is sure: Covid-19 is the most extensive health crisis to descend upon our world in a century. Most days, that’s about all we know for sure. When guidelines and predictions and “best practices” change, seemingly with the wind, we’re left to make decisions about today and tomorrow, both individually and collectively, with far less certainty than we’d like.

And amid these chaotic times, staffing firms must continue to do what they do best: make perfect-fit connections between qualified job candidates and companies in need of employees. Despite massive lay-offs and the growing and seemingly contagious “wait and see” attitude that has many a business stuck firmly in a holding pattern, the staffing industry must continue to view their role in the employment landscape as vital to both sides of the equation.

Because it is vital and necessary and essential.

Strategies to focus on:

     1. Marketing efforts: Staffing firms must strive to stay top-of-mind as families and industries across this great nation seek to weather this crisis together. That means that marketing efforts must continue, that marketing budgets shouldn’t be the first line item to get slashed.

Never has an online presence been so crucial. Even as in-person meetings and such begin to resume slowly, folks will likely continue to spend more time online than they did pre-lockdown. A review of the company’s social media accounts, the website, email list, and campaign strategies should be number one on the to-do list. Are we engaging current and potential clients and candidates? Are we posting relevant content? Are we a beacon during these challenging times?

And don’t become too mired in the anxiety of today to look to the future. Be ready with a plan to come out of the gates running when the economy begins to recover.

     2. Customer service: The time is always right for focused attention toward customer service. You can bet that everyone will remember who reached out with concern and assistance and who went the extra mile during the crisis. You can also be sure folks won’t forget who disappeared when times were hard, only to burst back on the scene with all smiles when the downturn eases.

The way you treat clients and candidates during these uncertain times will significantly impact your relationship with them, as well as potential clients and candidates, when the downturn is over. So, keep in touch with candidates even though you may not have a position to offer them right now. Assure them they are not forgotten, that they remain an active recruit in your candidate pool. Encourage them to seek opportunities to build upon their skill set and point them to training resources.

Do the same with your clients. Schedule a virtual check-in to inquire how the Covid-19 crisis has impacted their business? Get specific. Lend a listening ear to their current and future concerns. Ask how your firm can assist them, with staffing needs, of course, but with any other issues as well.

     3. Utilize the HEART Approach: When it comes to strengthening relationships with the consumer, Ted Waldronand James Wetherbe share suggestions. With nearly 70 years of combined experience in business practice, research, and education, Waldron and Wetherbe’s five-strategy plan to help companies weather crises and preserve their bonds with consumers is worth following.

The HEART framework provides guidelines on what to say—and what not to say—to consumers during times of sustained crises. It presents current and potential customers with an awareness of your company’s plan for supporting them during this time.

The HEART Framework components are

                        Humanize your company
                        Educate about change
                       Assure stability
                       Revolutionize offerings
                       Tackle the future

 “With the right customer-centric attitude and an awareness of what people need right now, companies can emerge from this crisis, having strengthened their relationships with customers,” states Waldron and Wetherbe. “Give consumers your HEART during this difficult time. It will cultivate long-lasting goodwill with past customers and help ensure they will stay with you in the future.

At ASJ Partners, our heart is fully committed to helping staffing firms weather these challenging times. Let our more than twenty-five years of experience in customizing marketing strategies for the staffing industry be an instrument in your offensive toolbox. Our team is ready, willing, and able to partner with you now and in the weeks and months ahead. Get in touch with us today!


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