How Staffing Pros and Recruiters can Weather the Recession and Build a Solid Foundation for Re-Emergence

The U.S. is in a recession, and will remain there for at least the first half of the year, with economic growth predicted to decline a staggering 26.5% in the second quarter. The latest unemployment claims show 33.5 million American workers – or one in every five working Americans – have filed initial claims for jobless benefits from mid-March through early May. To put it in perspective, during the Great Recession, it took two years for 8.6 million Americans to lose their jobs. This is no normal recession. It is pandemic-driven, something we haven’t seen for more than a century.

To slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives, businesses across the country closed down as more than 300 million people nationwide were told by state and local governments to stay home. Such measures ground the economy to a halt in a breathtakingly rapid timeframe. Even now, as businesses and communities grapple with how to safely open up, uncertainty about how this could impact the course of the virus has made it clear that we won’t be approaching normal anytime soon. We will likely contend with various degrees of openings and closings due to anticipated waves of COVID-19 cases.

While this recession is hitting almost all sectors of the U.S. economy, the most significant impact is being felt by certain industries, including leisure and hospitality, travel services, transportation, and oil and gas extraction.

Moreover, the COVID-19 recession is creating supply and demand issues. On the demand side, while initially travel & tourism spending plummeted, historic unemployment and decreased stock market value already have caused a sharp decrease in consumer spending, with retail sales plunging a record 16.4% in April, the biggest decline on record. Massive supply chain disruptions are occurring as factories shut down, production slows, and inventory decreases. And, faced with a shortage of parts from overseas, many goods are unavailable.

When all this is applied to staffing and recruiting, flexibility, adaptability and speed are crucial. In order to survive and support their employees, candidates, clients and communities, organizations must be ready to pivot quickly in response to the effects of this recession. While PSG has shared its recession readiness perspectives in the past, due to the unique nature of this downturn, we’re offering insights into how staffing and recruiting professionals can best weather this unique storm and build a foundation for success coming out of it.

Weathering the Storm

  • Refocus capacity where there is demand, but stay nimble because demand is changing constantly

As we redefine “normal,” now is not the time to do the same thing you’ve done in past recessions and downturns. Staffing and recruiting professionals must identify areas of their businesses that are growing and then quickly redeploy resources to those areas. For example, in healthcare, areas such as dentistry, plastic surgery, radiology and dermatology initially took a hit as patients postponed any diagnostic tests, check-ups and elective procedures and surgeries. During that same time, demand for workers throughout urgent and emergency care grew, with recruiters in some areas seeing a 30 percent surge in demand for temporary doctors and nurses to treat patients battling COVID-19. However, as businesses across the country began to open, healthcare work that was displaced is starting to come back.

While industries such as healthcare could see demand for essential workers skyrocket, then relax, and then increase again, other industries, such as retail and hospitality, could see the opposite trend as the virus ebbs and flows. The last thing an organization would want to do in either scenario is to hire a slew of recruiters, then lay them off, and be faced with trying to rehire them when demand increases.

As we see more and more restrictions lifted throughout the summer and then face possibly tightening again in the fall as an anticipated second wave of COVID-19 hits, companies across industries – and the staffing organizations serving them – must lay the foundation now to manage through a rollercoaster of supply and demand changes as the virus peaks, diminishes, and then surges again.

In this turbulent environment, PSG can absorb the shock of swift shifts in demand for our clients. And, because we’re an external partner, corporations and staffing firms can scale us down quickly, knowing we can ramp back up when additional volume arises. Additionally, we have a broad range of experience across almost every job type, and a leadership team that is accustomed to moving quickly and thoughtfully as requirements change. By paying attention to the unanticipated effects of the crisis on your recruiting process, you can quickly identify changes to your candidate funnels. PSG can help you stay flexible if your recruiting funnel changes and you need to recruit more people than normal.

PSG in action

PSG recently worked with a call center company that was supporting a government department for COVID-19 response. The ask? Hire more than 30 virtual customer service representatives (CSRs) in one week. The agents needed to be bilingual, have a wired computer with high speed internet, and provide their own equipment. PSG quickly designed a custom solution and strategy that ensured the broadest market coverage of all recruiting channels. We targeted programmatic job advertisements of key locations to attract the highest population of Spanish speaking CSRs across the U.S. We used a proactive sourcing approach to identify and engage targeted candidates by companies, skills, and locations by leveraging a unique blend of our own technology and engaging content (voice & SMS) approaches. Ultimately, PSG hit the hires target set by our client while coming in under budget.

In healthcare, one of our clients was facing a surging need for respiratory therapists and nurses. To serve them, we redeployed our team to focus on those two areas, which are contending with incredibly high demand. PSG has the knowledge capital to get creative and get their attention, and was able to help them meet their hiring target.

  • Keep your financial house in order

Make sure you don’t put your company in a risky financial situation. In other words, staffing firms should be careful that they don’t run out of money and corporate talent acquisition departments should be sure not to blow through budgets. Instead, stay hyper-focused on your financial projects as they evolve with demand, and cut costs where necessary. If at all possible, retain investments that are critical to your future capabilities.

If you’re a staffing firm, be prepared for a possible decline in revenues as sales decrease or clients are unable to pay for services. On the enterprise side, many recruiting departments will see budget cuts, so payroll planning is extremely important to ensure you’ll be able to pay your employees.

At PSG, we’ve set up triggers, so that if our revenues decline to a certain level, we’ll deploy specific cost-cutting measures; if they decline further, we’ll deploy another level of cost-cutting measures; and so on. While the initial cuts would focus more on slashing budgets, we are prepared to take more significant measures depending on revenue signals. As painful as this process might seem, you could jeopardize your organization’s solvency if you don’t create such a plan.

Making Decisions Now to Thrive After the Storm

  • Rebuild your recruiting operation for the future, not the past

The winners coming out of this crisis will take this opportunity to rebuild their recruiting operations for the future. While continuing to do what you did in the past is easy and tempting, it is a surefire way to blend in with the pack instead of standing out when the crisis subsides. Or worse, you may emerge from the crisis obsolete.

Now is the time to rethink operating models and push yourself to question all aspects of your operations. In staffing, with so many remote workers, some companies may consider a more rapid shutdown of their branches. When it comes to enterprise talent acquisition, teams may lean more heavily on partners for both RPO and contingent RPO services, shifting business away from higher cost staffing agencies while keeping a lean in-house talent acquisition team to avoid waves of hiring/firing that could come with shifts in demand.

For example, PSG has deployed 95% of our resources in the Philippines to work from home. While we had been conducting a trial of work from home for higher performing recruiters, our success with the COVID-19-driven shift led us to accelerate our efforts to offer work from home benefits to employees more quickly than planned. If your business is slower, consider piloting process and technology changes in controlled environments so that when activity picks up, you have a solid and proven path forward.

  • Invest opportunistically while others regroup

Many great recruiters and salespeople are suddenly available. If you have the resources to do so, now is a great time to make opportunist hires. If you’re a staffing company, perhaps there’s a weaker competitor you can acquire at a fire sale price, or a startup with great technology that saw its funding dry up and needs a strategic partner. Keep an eye out for investments in people, technology and organizations if you have the means to do so.

There is so much we don’t yet know about how this pandemic will affect industries and businesses. Flexibility and adaptability at speed are the name of the game this time around. Hunkering down won’t work as it might have in other recessions. Now is the time to be sure you can innovate for clients and quickly redeploy resources to areas that are in high demand. While people still need to hire, costs and flexibility are more important than ever. PSG has the technology and global workforce to deliver high quality hires quickly at the lowest cost, and the flexibility to meet rapid changes in your business. Learn more at


How to Avoid the ‘Bright, Shiny Object Syndrome’ in HR Tech

Originally posted by Recruiting Daily.

Enterprises are spending more time, money and energy than ever before on new HR tech solutions. According to PwC’s 2020 HR Technology Survey, 74% of companies plan to increase spending on HR tech to address talent needs this year as the $148 billion HR tech market continues to grow. However, when companies discuss return on HR tech investments, the large majority are seeing limited, if any, bottom line impact.

With new products unveiled at dozens of HR tech conferences each year and a list of more than 800 HR software applications available from just a quick search, it’s easy to get lost in the vast number of HR tech tools available in the market. In fact, 79% of organizations struggle to keep up with new technologies in recruiting. Sleek designs, user-friendly demos and sales pitches filled with industry buzzwords add even more distraction when researching solutions for your organization. 

Nevertheless, while recruiting leaders are investing in software that promises to solve their biggest challenges, oftentimes when they evaluate results, they aren’t seeing an impact on the bottom line. This is happening across the industry, from small businesses to major corporations. 

So, how do you avoid falling into the trap of the “bright, shiny object syndrome” when implementing HR tech? While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, avoiding these common pitfalls can help ensure that your tech investments have a measurable and sustainable impact on your business. 

Pitfall #1: Neglecting to set goals or establish the outcomes you want to achieve. 

Managers who are users of HR tech tools are two times less likely than executives to say the tools are effective on a range of business outcomes. Furthermore, a recent study reports that even though 97% of senior HR and legal professionals think technology will make a difference in HR, only 37% have implemented an HR technology strategy.

With your overall HR strategy as a guide, identify the desired outcomes you want to achieve first, then work backward. Part of your HR technology strategy should be to dissect the operations and workflows of your recruiting team to determine opportunities and challenges, including how the tool will integrate with your current HR tech stack. 

If organizations fail to identify the desired impact (e.g., cost per hire improvement, candidate engagement improvement, etc.) and track that impact over time, they aren’t likely to have a good outcome. For example, perhaps your business goals include increasing employee productivity and reducing cost per hire. A chatbot may seem like the answer to help take some of the weight off your team, but will that truly help you achieve your goals? Depending on where you are in your technology journey it may, but your analysis might show that a different tool will have a bigger impact on your bottom line now. By preparing and planning effectively, you can proactively seek out partners with demonstrated experience solving the challenges you are trying to address, instead of being sidetracked by the “bright, shiny objects” you see on the market. 

Pitfall #2: Not measuring continuously.

The next transformation in HR technology is ensuring that your organization is continually evaluating and changing your technology to get the most out of it. Before implementing a new technology, develop a plan for evaluating its performance on a regular basis. Determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) that tie into your strategic business goals and then set up checkpoints every month or quarter to measure against them. To do this, you may need a tool that offers robust analytics and reporting. If the results aren’t there, prepare to make adjustments until they are. 

Implementing, evaluating, maintaining, adjusting and expanding your technology architecture takes time and commitment. It’s an ongoing process and should be part of a living, breathing HR technology strategy. For example, let’s say one of your goals is to increase candidate engagement, and as part of your strategic planning process you determine a sourcing automation tool is what your organization needs. You set up the tool and it produces mediocre candidates, so you have to tell the tool what went wrong and fix it. If adjustments aren’t made, no matter how good the tool is, the results won’t be there. Adaptability and agility are key when implementing and improving your tech tools.

Pitfall #3: Not involving your team effectively.

You need buy-in and engagement across your team before implementing new tech tools, and you need to identify who owns the project. More than 80% of organizations struggle with adoption challenges when implementing technology, often linking back to not having the right people involved from the beginning. Should someone from the IT team or a business analyst lead the effort? Try forming a committee or task force with representation from various parts of the organization. Identify the right people on your team, including those who will be end users of the tool, to help choose, implement, evaluate and maintain the software. Lack of preparation, not meeting user needs, unclear user benefits and poor user experiences are common reasons technologies aren’t embraced internally.  

Pitfall #4: Not piloting before implementing.

Are you so excited about the new tool that you want to rush to implement it? Instead, identify risks and challenges up front and work with your partner to do a controlled, measured pilot program before fully scaling the solution. A demo or even a trial isn’t enough to be ready for full implementation. No matter what the size of your organization, start small. 

For example, perhaps an organization is looking to invest in a platform to help its recruiters more easily source and connect with interested candidates to increase placements per recruiter by 50%. The organization builds a new candidate engagement platform and identifies a control group to pilot the technology. Initially, the control group does not see any material changes in placements per recruiter. After assessing recruiter behavior, the team makes changes to where time is spent throughout the recruiting process and how candidates are prioritized for phone calls. After adding functionality to help recruiters prioritize which candidates should be called and changing behavior to spend more time sourcing, the team is able to meet its target of a 50% increase in placements per recruiter. These changes couldn’t have been made as easily after scaling. Even at a small scale, a pilot can measure the KPIs you develop to determine expected impact. Although maintenance will be required after implementation, a pilot will help refine the tool before adoption, thereby reducing disruption for your team.

Building a strategic technology architecture in your enterprise is no longer an option if you want to have a competitive advantage; it’s a requirement. Don’t be the next organization to be diagnosed with “bright, shiny object syndrome.” Your company’s success relies on tying your technology to your business goals and strategy while providing an exceptional experience for your candidates, clients and employees.

Brian Cotter

Brian Cotter is co-founder and president of PSG Global Solutions, the world’s largest and fastest growing provider of outsourced recruiting support to the global staffing and recruiting industry.


Healthcare Staffing in the Time of COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has upturned life around the world. At the time of this writing, the U.S. surpassed 15,000 cases, and more than 200,000 cases have been confirmed globally. Those numbers will be outdated by the time you read this. Countries and states are instituting aggressive measures, including closing schools, businesses, restaurants, retail shops, playgrounds and more; enforcing social distancing and sheltering at home policies; slashing travel; and closing borders.

While individuals, families and organizations of all sizes try to navigate our new virtual landscape, healthcare officials and politicians are taking steps to keep the pandemic from overwhelming the system. In the U.S., the recently released COVID-19 Response Plan painted a grim picture, estimating that the pandemic could last 18 months or longer, and could include multiple waves, putting significant strain on the healthcare system. According to Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, “We have to figure out now how we’re going to get hospitals through, not just today, not this week, not next week, but potentially months of being under siege with these cases.”

Preparing for the Surging Demand for Healthcare Workers

All of this translates into sharply increased demand for healthcare workers, including clinicians and non-clinicians. However, given how easily transmittable COVID-19 is, healthcare workers can easily contract the virus. In Italy – ahead of the U.S. in the trajectory of the disease – more than 1,700 healthcare workers have contracted the virus, taking them out of commission for weeks to a month at a time. In China, where the outbreak began late last year, 3,387 healthcare workers were infected by Feb. 24.

Healthcare staffing organizations will be working hard to meet this spike in clinical placements for at least the next several months – and they could be trying to manage it with decreased availability if many healthcare workers acquire the virus. This will be coupled by a need to quickly ramp up and down according to the “waves” mentioned in the U.S. response plan.

Along with this volatility will come the labor-intensive processes of onboarding clinicians, which includes reference checks, employment verification and licensure verification. This credentialing process can take weeks, if not months, to complete. Now, more than ever, healthcare staffing organizations must determine how to expedite that administrative process without compromising the thoroughness and precision it demands.

Finding a partner that has the expertise to handle healthcare administration for clinicians will help staffing firms decrease precious turnaround time so clinicians can onboard as quickly as possible.

Outsourcing the Healthcare Credentialing Process

PSG’s outsourced credentialing support services can help healthcare staffing organizations get clinicians working as quickly as possible where they’re needed most. We have identified specific activities, metrics, technologies, and roles necessary to drive quality improvements, decreased turnaround time, and savings – all while keeping risks low. Our team of more than 400 dedicated associates are working around the clock to handle reference checks, employment verification, and licensure verification for healthcare clinicians. PSG has helped onboard more than 220K clinicians and conducted over 700K reference checks and verifications of employment to help place those candidates. In many cases, we’ve decreased turnaround by up to   – all while decreasing costs.

Mitigating liability is always one of our primary concerns, so our recruitment coordinators adhere to a specific process that delivers results. Our associates handle all reference check calls and verifications of employment. Then, they run background checks through appropriate channels and put responses in a centralized data repository. Our coordinators set up drug screen events, run license verifications, and file all necessary documents, including state licenses, TB tests, and criminal background checks in our clients’ systems to ensure that all the necessary documents are in place to put the healthcare professional to work as quickly as possible.

If there are any exceptions that fall outside our strict set of rules, PSG’s coordinators escalate all requests to a credentialing manager who reviews them to ensure no risk is associated with placing a specific healthcare provider. Our resources work efficiently and carefully, closely following the guidelines provided.

Sourcing and Administrative Support for Healthcare Organizations

For healthcare enterprises that need help sourcing talent for interviews and managing other administrative functions, PSG has more than 300 associates to support our clients’ recruiting processes, including:

  • Posting jobs
  • Timecard auditing and exception management
  • Payroll
  • Collections support
  • Billing and collections

PSG associates are skilled at facilitating a seamless process while delivering cost-effective solutions. Our proactive measures – such as attributing or labeling candidates in the applicant tracking system (ATS) – help healthcare companies search more effectively for clinicians based on specific skill sets, as well as better allocate those candidates to assigned recruiters.

PSG is committed to serving as a source of stability and flexibility in this challenging environment. Whether you’re a healthcare staffing organization or a healthcare company, PSG can help you get healthcare workers where they so critically need to be during this tumultuous time.

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