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KM Q&A Featuring: Blaise Bussell, EVP


The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the staffing industry. During 2020 when the pandemic was at its worst, U.S. staffing companies employed an average of 2.5 million temporary and contract workers per week, down 19.5% year-to-year, according to stats from the American Staffing Association.

Luckily the industry has begun to bounce back, thanks in part to an increased demand for talent and more workplace flexibility. We recently sat down with Blaise Bussell, our Executive VP, to get his thoughts on how the staffing industry has been impacted during the pandemic and how job seekers and companies can thrive during this challenging time.

How has the pandemic affected the staffing industry?

In 2020, the initial reaction was significant. The entire staffing industry was affected, with certain industries like travel and hospitality taking a harder hit than others. While many companies paused their hiring efforts from March to June 2020 (both staffing firms and clients alike); our experience was that existing workforces were largely able to remain in-tact.

Across the workforce, there was an acceleration toward the hybrid work model. It was encouraging to see how people, including those at KellyMitchell, could work effectively in a team environment while remaining apart.

How did KellyMitchell adapt during this time?

We’ve always excelled at working as a team, so we were able to adapt in a relatively short amount of time. Within a week or two, we had digitized our entire operating model, so we could see every opportunity in every market. We were able to meet and even increase productivity across the organization.

We adopted more hubs throughout the US, serving a broader geography, which allowed us to meet our clients’ needs more efficiently. In return, we’ve also been able to invest more in our National Recruitment Center in Chicago to secure top talent. With the onset of demand recently, it’s a challenging time for recruitment and retainment. With our expertise in the industry, we’re at a competitive advantage to meet clients’ needs.

Hybrid work/teleworking have become the norm during the pandemic. What are your thoughts on these models?

At KellyMitchell, we value teamwork, collaboration, and realize the need to address goals independently. As a result, we’ve adopted a hybrid model that includes both collaboration days and focus days.

On collaboration days, which are usually three days a week, we work together in person; the other two days we work remotely, focusing on checking things off our to-do list and making headway on our goals. There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to this model, and it's been a catalyst to our growth.

What tips do you have for companies looking for talent during the pandemic?

Whether you’re hiring someone for a short-term or long-term project, you should be able to express what’s compelling about the opportunity and your company's culture.

Communicating this could be a game changer for a consultant looking to take on a specific role at your organization. It's also crucial to ensure the hiring process is efficient. We work with organizations to create a hiring plan, which involves quickly identifying top talent, condensing the interviewing process, and ultimately retaining talent.

What advice do you have for people looking for jobs during this challenging time?

An important part of looking for a new position is being able to share your story. As a candidate, it's essential to be able to articulate past accomplishments to help your potential employer see the specific value you’d provide at their organization. This goes beyond identifying your strong technical skills. Creating a connection and relaying your passion for the new organization, while sharing why you think you'd be a great fit for the new role is also key.

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