In 2021, all eyes are on job markets.
Employers are having a terrible time finding and hiring workers. In one of the biggest workforce trends in decades commonly referred to as “The Great Resignation” job seekers are more enticed to transitional roles while they wait and see which way the job market is headed. There are more job openings than candidates with many workers either reluctant to make a move or considering multiple opportunities.
With our economy seemingly hanging in the balance, the drive to bring workers and employers together has never been more urgent. This year’s ASA Staffing World Conference took place during this extraordinary moment in history – as markets everywhere struggle to return to pre-pandemic activity.
So this year in particular, when our industry is poised to provide perhaps the most consequential solutions for our economy, Staffing World was certain to be an even bigger event than before. As we unpack from our trip (literally and figuratively), we are excited to share some of our key findings and a couple of surprises as well!
A Year Unlike Any Other for Building Relationships
Even though our industry runs on relationships, we are rarely afforded the opportunity to check in with so many of our friends and partners, in-person and at the same time. (What a rush!)
More than just an opportunity to catch up and check-in, we get a direct line to their latest developments. We heard from agencies of all sizes about their most urgent needs and the solutions their clients are looking for.
We were both surprised and humbled to hear clients recall Parqa’s blog content they found helpful, from marketing automation, speed in staffing, to establishing brand credibility for their agency.
And as a sign of the times, we see how the priorities of staffing and recruiting agencies have shifted to meet the evolving needs of their clients. And with those shifting priorities come a renewed focus on old initiatives, new ways of thinking about persistent problems, and new technologies that are driving the industry.
Here’s what we learned about the most pressing issues in the staffing and recruiting industry today:
Marketing Automation is Key to Staffing and Recruiting
We ended a recent blog on Marketing Automation for staffing and recruiting agencies with this cliffhanger: “Where we see many fall short with marketing automation is when they only focus on their existing mailing lists and ignore the rest of the 99% of the market out there.”
The Vast, Untapped Potential of Marketing Automation
99% is huge if you think about it. We’re already doing so much with marketing automation, for a narrow group of individuals – either existing candidates who are all on contract, or active candidates and clients.
Imagine the potential we have in places like PPC, blogs, websites, webinars, etc.. Virtually any place a possible lead could show action, we could use that to initiate their journey down the funnel. Which brings us to the second most sought-after component to marketing automation:
Marketing Automation and the Human Touch
Many staffing and recruiting agencies are wanting to go much more macro with their automation messaging. They’re wanting to learn more about proper data segmentation so their content is appropriately targeted.
With new and evolving techniques in data acquisition we are more capable of creating a more human, helpful, and customer-driven conversation and experience. That includes speaking not only to the specific place in a candidate’s lifecycle stage, but with messaging that is much more personal and relevant.
We are firm believers in the power of marketing automation for staffing and recruiting agencies. So naturally we were thrilled to hear there was so much enthusiasm in using the vast amount of data at our disposal to create a more meaningful lead generation and nurture processes in our MA efforts!
Renewed Focus on Diversity and Inclusion
D&I initiatives are nothing new in staffing and recruiting. But every now and then, someone comes along and reframes a conversation in a way that makes you think about it from a whole new perspective. Last week, Dr. Stefanie Johnson did just that.
Dr. Johnson proposed we take a renewed look at stretch assignments. Since employees who’ve been assigned stretch assignments have a unique opportunity to prove themselves, and thus advance. Employers should consider providing stretch assignments to people who are in a minority category since they may not have that opportunity naturally.
Fostering diversity in the workplace also:
- Brings different ideas and points out more solutions
- Creates an inclusive work environment
- Provides a seat at the table for minorities, and the expectation it can be theirs
Dr. Johnson also included – we need to be doing more to advocate for our minority and underrepresented team members. Many workplaces have opportunities available to grow and advance their career. But they shouldn’t just stop there. Make a path and a process for them to take advantage of those opportunities.
For more on Dr. Stefanie Johnson’s unique perspective on how to hire for more diversity and inclusion, check out this recent podcast where she goes into much more detail on the subject.
Building Innovation in Staffing and Recruiting, But How?
Of the many “Aha moments” that seemed to resonate through Staffing World, innovation was at the forefront. There was a lot of great discussion around how companies of all sizes are exploring new ways to encourage innovative ideas from every part of their company, not just leadership.
One of the most pronounced ideas around innovation came from speaker Rita McGrath, during her session: What You Need to Rethink Your Strategy in a Post-Advantage World.
Rita proposed the idea of innovation has shifted from an antiquated notion that a competitive advantage, once established, is enduring. She illustrated how so many companies are getting it wrong by creating their market advantage and then sitting on it.
The most promising innovators, said Rita, are creating new ways to see change coming in their industry and then get ahead of it.
Rita’s session demonstrated how one of the most effective ways to be proactively innovative is by fostering a culture of “little bets” in your company. Little bets could be anything from more creative brainstorms, or encouraging and rewarding employees who propose ideas or solutions that can tackle issues within the company. The thinking is, by being more intentional about seeking new ideas and creative ways of thinking we can more effectively avoid loss of customer engagement by becoming complacent, inwardly focused, and actually stifling innovation.
Speed Talks and Random Thoughts
As with every Staffing World conference, there was a flurry of ideas and thought-provoking sessions, each with takeaways that really got us thinking.
Here were some of our favorites:
Discussion on Identity vs. Role Worth with Brad Freyer
In “Reject That Inner Critic: Silence the Voice of Self-Doubt,” Brad proposed finding our self worth in our identity, not in our roles. Having the right balance between our identity and our role can protect us – failures don’t make the intense impact they could if our whole identity were derived from our work. Balance helps us learn from our mistakes, grow from them, and move on.
To illustrate this, he gave the great example of a boy about to go down a huge ski jump. The boy was stalled in fearful anticipation at the top of the ski slope. But once he gave it a shot, and landed the jump, he raced to the bottom of the hill and said “Just the suspense at the top freaks you out at first. That was so fun!”
One practical step we can take in seeking balance between our identity and our role is to keep a journal every day. Even 7 minutes a day helps to create a more clear picture of the person you want to become. By engaging in more positive self-talk and encouragement we can get out of the “doom loop” of negative beliefs.
Kelli Schutrop and Marketing Innovation
Parqa’s own Kelli Schutrop gave an inspiring talk on “Marketing Automation: The Race to Revenue Generation & Business Efficiency.” Kelli discussed how vital it is to know your audience.
So many people implement Marketing Automation strategies, they put together workflows, and content strategies. But if companies never do the legwork of putting together an ideal customer profile, buyer persona, and journey mapping, it would be improbable to really know their audience’s specific pain points.
Kelli asked, are you messaging all your candidates and potential clients in the same pool? Are you sending everybody the same message? Because if you aren’t categorizing your message according to what a specific individual needs to hear, your marketing automation could suffer as being clunky and irrelevant.
Secondly, Kelli discussed a key strategy to measuring success. We can accomplish this by asking ourselves, what is my overall business goal, what is my objective with marketing automation, and then measuring if our efforts are actually accomplishing those goals. For example, if we want to evaluate the experience of our candidates and increase our candidate lead flow, we can review if the messages being sent and the actions candidates are taking align with those goals.
Rosie Rivel and having courageous conversations
Promoting relationships in any work culture means occasionally having difficult conversations with coworkers and even leadership. Indeed, we should lean into the challenging conversations because they will help us to learn and grow.
Rosie gave us some great advice and practical solutions on how to keep calm during these courageous conversations.
One key takeaway was to remember how sometimes, tempers can rise, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that people are mad at you. It is more likely they’re frustrated with the situation. When we keep that in mind, and work together to get to the other side of the fear or courageous conversion, we can more effectively resolve conflicts and create a much stronger work environment.
Melissa Byington reminded us to ask all of the questions. We should ask questions as often as we can because receiving feedback is a gift. Her advice to all workers: find a support network at work where it’s safe to ask those questions and embrace uncertainty and change!
Thanks to All Attendees and Participants!
Like every year, being a part of Staffing World is a thrill and an honor. We are so grateful to catch up with partners and friends, and for the opportunity to meet so many new people and encounter groundbreaking and exciting ideas.
This year is an especially consequential year for the staffing and recruiting industry. Given all the obstacles our job market is facing, we are inspired to see staffing and recruiting stepping up to the challenge with a can-do spirit, innovation, and demonstrating how partnerships that work towards a common goal can accomplish almost anything!
If you are a staffing and recruiting agency, and you’d like to hear more about how some of the key takeaways from the Staffing World Conference can grow and transform your company, contact Parqa today!