When and how will staffing firms return to office?
Tune in and listen to John who is a staffing firm owner. He is beeing interviewed by William, the president of RecrutingDaily.
They talk about the forced changes in everyday work through Covid.
Find out which tools helped them the most.
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William: Jan just said, enjoy guys. Let's do it. Let's do it. Let's do it. Let's do introductions first. So in case folks, didn't look at your bio just do a quick introduction of yourself.
John: Sure. John Bemis live up in new Canaan, Connecticut. My company is Benchmark IT. We are a it staffing and recruiting firm.
Based primarily we do work primarily here in the, in the New York city tri-state area, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut where we really flourishes helping it managers build their teams and get projects done. Well, usually you know, work directly with managers. We're very high touch with clients and candidates and pre COVID.
We were very used to meet in candidates and clients in person all the time. And you know, we, we work hard to have very good recruiting processes and Work efficiently. We're, we're pretty technical as far as trying to always increase efficiencies with, in our staffing technology. And and we, we just try to, you know, fill our positions with as few resumes as possible and with very few surprises in that, in the in the, in the whole staffing process.
So for clients and candidates make it, make it a good experience. So that's, that's kind of what we focus on.
William: I love it. I love it. So William TennCare, president of recruiting daily study HR technology and TA technology for over 20 years happy to be here, John and I are going to have a discussion of this session is essentially about the future where I get to the future, but we're going to start with the last year and we're going to talk about John's firm in particular, what he's seen.
Both personally, but also what he's talked to his peer group about in terms of kind of the, the, the three points of that triangle of a traditional staffing firm, your business, you know your clients and your talent. And so John let's, let's go through the last year real quick and let's go. You know, just a year from, you know, now backwards to January, February of last year.
And let's talk about the changes that you've seen in your own business over the course of that year.
John: Sure. Well, those were January and February. Those were the good times, you know, we were it was very robust. We were all, we were talking about getting into the roaring twenties and clients were hiring like crazy.
You know, I think that was probably the peak of, of a wave they've been building for the last four or five years in terms of just, you know, demand for it professionals. We were certainly on a record pace. We'd had a great year the year before, and we were on pace to exceed that in the first couple of months.
Clients were starting to finally get the message and move faster. So they didn't lose people. Candidates were you know, finding positions very quickly. We, we were, there were, there were a lot of jobs out there, so we were very selective about what we worked and we're just partnering with clients, you know, just trying to pick the clients who would work really closely with us so we could do our job well.
Candidates. It was a great candidate market to very robust. I'd say instead at that time there was probably a job for everybody in it. You know, there. Lots of positions. There were even manager positions starting to open up you because there was just enough expansion of companies that they just couldn't stretch.
Those managers any further. So managers have been sitting in jobs. They weren't happy with for years, finally, we're finding new opportunities. So that started some musical chairs and some new positions for more senior level people, which was great to see. And multiple offers were happening all the time. I mean, it seems like every other position we were battling multiple offers and we just had to be really tight with candidates all the time.
So it was, it was a good time for our team. I mean, it was a continuation of what we've done for years. We were in the office. We've always been at, come to the office every day, work together, kind of staffing firm you know, bullpen environment. That's what I've been doing for 20 years. Very comfortable doing it.
I had people driving in 20 minutes away, an hour away. I had one guy coming up from the city on the train every day and walking like another half hour. That's how he got his steps in to get to the, get to the office every day. We, we use zoom a little bit for interviews. But mostly we're kind of in-person we use slack for instant messaging, but we didn't really need it too much.
Cause we were all in the office. So it's like yell at each other. And lots of in-person interviews. So that was kind of the that's, you know, that's how January, February and the first part of March was.
William: And then one had to go remote on Tuesday. So tell us your business and what are the changes that you needed to make for just your business itself.
John: When COVID hit you mean?
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Well, when, you know, I mean, it was just a huge adjustment. I was actually out of town when, when I was out in Utah, when it started being really bad in New York. And I could tell just from the, my, my, my team's voices, that they were nervous about going into the office those last couple of days.
And then I said, finally, I think it was that Friday. I said, just stay home. Nobody come in. You know, and that was the last day we were in the office. I came back to Connecticut. And honestly, I've barely been back to the office since, and most of my employees have not been back since. But it was huge for us.
We, I hadn't worked from home more than one or two days in 20 years, probably just always drove to the office. So you know, a big impact on the business. The you know, from a client perspective you know, a lot of stuff, a lot of our physicians went on hold went from like 20 open positions to, you know, six and like three weeks.
It was just just a, kind of a, a big pullback Along the way during those next months, you know, we were, we were fortunate. Most of our consultants got, got to stay on. But you know, some clients were asking for reduced bill rates, clients, you know, they wanted longer payment terms. You know, you couldn't blame them.
They were getting a lot of pressure too, depending on what was happening to their business. But it was a, what was a very robust hiring market became a very choppy market. And Yeah for candidates too. It was, it was very frustrating.
William: How did you manage the transition for when, when everyone was home, they were so accustomed to going to work probably going out to, to lunch, doing all those things.
So you said you use zoom just a little bit before you used slack just a little bit before. What was, you know, everyone's at home now? What was that? Those first couple of months, like, just from a technology adoption and kind of communication perspective.
John: Well, w we all get. You know, very good at slack, very fast.
You know, I would say within a couple of weeks, that was like our favorite tool, you know, and that was the, I never realized, you know, why slack was so good. Cause we just didn't, I didn't really need it. I was just talking to everybody in the office. But w we found that it was really helpful to have that instant messaging instead of email and from and we started doing a lot more video. We started to do daily video calls. All of our interviews turned into videos. Our client visits turned into videos. So, so we got better at that. And then know, I, then I saw Microsoft teams come along. So for us, we weren't, we were on outlook, but we weren't on office 365.
So over the summer may have migration to teams. So we replaced slack and zoom with teams. And now that's everybody's favorite tool. We also have
William: a little bit to teams. I mean, it was obviously it was you know, you made the decision, but how'd you go and how how'd you go about getting everyone to buy in to moving to new tools into the pandemic?
John: Well I think actually the move to teams was. Wasn't that hard. It wasn't that it didn't operate that differently from slack and you know, and it worked fine, honestly, once we just learned what buttons to push it wasn't really the change management on either of those was, was not difficult.
The more challenging one has been in terms of the phone system, because we, we had a PBX and you know, I never really thought about a VoIP phone system cause we were all in the office. I've never had good cell service at my house. So when I came home to work from home, it was terrible. I could barely make phone calls because our cell services neighborhood is bad.
So I searched quickly for VoIP systems. Everybody else started to use their cell phones, you know? And so we put in a VoIP system and that is a little more complicated. The change management, on that is a little harder because. You know, you so used to picking it up yourself. So we're still, we're still working through that.
Right. But I mean, everybody's got the option to use it.
William: And that, and your, your VoIP system integrates with a board.
John: Yep. We have Bullhorn. We have CloudCall is our VoIP system and it's very nicely integrated. Right. So it's just a matter of, you know. Yeah. It's all good. The other thing, so let's talk about,
William: oh, go ahead.
Go ahead, John.
John: No, I was just going to say culturally, the, the the it's been challenging, you know, it was a challenging summer and fall, you know, especially in the summer, I would say just everybody, it wasn't just the mechanics of working from home. It was. You know, dealing with the pandemic and, and the, the everybody's sort of, you know, mental state and so sort of businesses a little bit down, you're trying to do business differently.
You're struggling with all these new tools and and you know, people are sick all over the place. And it was, it was interesting times from a management perspective, you know, not only did I have to learn to manage differently. Because I'm not just talking to everybody every day. You know, I had to, I think get a little bit more inspirational.
I was turning to, you know you know, like talking to in our, we went to a daily video call, so we would meet every day to try to keep the team together. I think that has really helped. I got it for a while. I got into like daily attestations every other day. They had come up with a new one, like. We are a day closer to the solution.
Appreciation is the core of great relationships, you know, just try to just anything to just try to, you know, give people a few people's spirits up, you know, cause it was a tough time.
William: It's you know, the other part of that is there was prior to that there was an office to go to. So whatever the pilgrimage to the office was, and the pilgrimage away from the office work was that by and large was at the office. Yes. And you know, when you, when you're at home, When you're at home doing work there's, there's no buffer, you know, work.
You can see people kind of the mental health and wellness kind of going downhill, especially over time, because there was no way to shut that off. It's just work was work was always there.
John: Yeah, it's definitely, it's always there.
William: Let's say you're going to the same place. I was John, take us into client. How, how, how how during this process, how did it change with your relationships with with clients? How did you go about that?
John: Well, we, we we tried to. You know, stay as connected as possible via phone and video, but you know, when you're used to going out and seeing a good client every month and walking the walk in the halls and that sort of thing, it was a, it was a big difference.
And same with same with the candidate. So what we tried to do was just really focused on a lot of calls and a lot of conversations. There's something about just talking to people. When you're in an isolated environment that that really helps. So, so we focused on that, you know, from an internal perspective clients had to, you know, the big change, of course we were still filling jobs and we ended up having an okay year, but the hiring processes had to change.
And then clients, I don't think we've ever had more. Then one hire offer of a video interview before maybe that was a remote person. Now, all of a sudden, all of our local clients had to go to. A different mode of interviewing no more coming in person. So that was a struggle for the clients to learn how to do it.
It was a struggle for the candidates to learn how to do it. So that was a big change. We found that we really had to, to prep candidates for video interviews, a lot of people had never done one. We have one funny, funny story where I was actually involved in this one. We got on a three-way with the candidate and he turns on his zoom and his picture was totally upside down.
So it's like, okay, I think we need to fix this before you talked to the client. So I don't even know how he did that, but he did it and we, we managed to get it right. And he actually got the job offer. So that was good. So a lot of adjustments, clients have tend to learn to, you know, to do it as well.
William: And, and, and new business with clients, you know, normally you'd, you know, obviously pitching new business is probably not, never been never been difficult for you.
How do you pitch new business or how have you pitched new business? Through there.
John: Most of it has been through leveraging relationships that we have and, you know, leveraging them more than even before. Probably I, I, what we have experienced is, you know not only are managers, not at their desks, they're, they're, they're even harder to reach by phone than even before, even if you have their cell or whatever.
Seems like the managers have more meetings than ever before. Client burnout is a real thing for sure. And everybody, all our consultants are reporting more meetings than ever before. So hard to reach people by phone, hard to reach people by email because they're inundated with email more than ever before.
I think so we've just been really trying to leverage relationships and get introductions from one person to another. And that's, that's been, what's working and then. Trying to set up a video call to have an introduction. And I'm finding that clients at first were a little bit nervous to get on video calls.
Cause it just, I don't think it was as much of a thing. We had clients using teams, but they wouldn't turn on the video. They just use, they were just all audio. And I think people have gotten a little bit more used to dealing on video in the last year. And so now when we. Get introduced to a new client.
That's usually not a struggle to get them on a video call for the first and start to build a little bit of a face to face relationship instead of just a phone call.
William: That helps. That helps. It's it's funny, because at first it was awkward, like the squints background and the cats walking around and dogs and interruptions and all that other stuff. Now we're accustomed to, I mean, not only do we see it on TV but we even see it in this call. So we have regular calls. So we have, I'll have people that will ask me about.
I'll ask them about books on their bookshelf kid. It just, it it transcends into, you know, like we can now. The business on hand, which we'll get to there. We'll obviously get to that. But I love that about, you know, being able to, you know, first kind of deal with the shock and all of what was going on with your clients and being flexible.
You've said that in the past with me, you know, being able, you know, you know what they're going through, you're going through some of the same things. But, you know, long-term relationships are based on that flexibility. Like, okay, Hey, we, we know what's going on. You need to slow hire now hiring down, or you need to work out a new payment program.
Like again, the short thinking would be okay, well, we're not going to be flexible. The longterm thinking is, you know, a to sit in a CLI for 10 years, there'll be another client for another 10 years. You know, w this is the time to be flexible. Right. Yeah. So
John: we're going to go back and forth. Oh, go ahead. No, I'm sorry.
So we also even got a little bit more flexible about what we would work on over the summer. You know, we, we would work on, let's say an electrical engineer position for a client instead of just software engineer. We, you know, we, whatever the client really wanted our help on, we would help on. You know, we definitely, we definitely got more flexible.
So which has helped, you know, float the boat.
William: So take two, they're part of your business and dealing with candidates and dealing with, you know, getting your candidates ready and using different technologies interacting with them differently than you have in the past, interacting with your clients. But tell us a little bit about like there, like what you've gone through over this last year with just your candidates and your, you know, the talents that you do deal with.
John: I think aside from physically not being able to, to be with them I think what we've we've learned is that it's, it's even more important than ever to, to stay in touch with people and get back to them. You know, candidates are also more isolated than ever. As the hiring process has slowed down, I mean, we were seeing, you know, two and three weeks delays while, while client tried to figure out what they were going to do next. So and of course, you know, candidates are used to not hearing very much from their online applications and everything else. When the, when the real, the real inner hiring process slowed down, then we really have to, you know, talk to them and keep them apprised any way we can.
So that was definitely, that was definitely has been a big thing. And as I said, trying to do to stay engaged overall. You know, send emails to people that we, we just, if we don't have time to call them, let's send an email you know, keep in touch with people. So we use some of our technology. We are here fish customer.
We use here fish to, to automatically keep in touch with someone. If it's been too long, since we've had a chance to really pick up the phone and call them and. Those, they appreciate those emails. And that starts a dialogue sometimes that that is really good for both of us, you know? So both the candidate in, and so if there's ways to do it, but we've just tried to stay even more engaged.
William: Right. And them getting over the hump of video interviews, you know, obviously you would have people come in and they office you'd go through you'd prep them, et cetera. And that there still really isn't readily available to folks. So getting them over that hump of not be, you know, not necessarily being able to shake your hand, but also then getting them ready for the client.
What did y'all, what did your team. Now, what was that process to go through with your team? It was just getting the candidates past any insecurities that they might've had with not being able to shake people's hands, not being in the same room, you know, not being able to tour the facility or whatever, like all that stuff that we've gotten used to.
What did y'all, what did y'all do to kind of get them over any insecurity. That's probably not the right word, but just, just dealing with the ambiguity that they, you know, the unknown and then potentially taking a job with a company where they've never met, quote unquote, met the people that they've worked for.
John: That's right. Well, you know, everybody knows, you know, you gotta prep the candidates and we definitely have done. A lot of candidate prep, but even in this environment, now you really have to prep your clients and make sure that they are if not selling, at least explaining a lot more about the place and about the, the job opportunity and the what's in it for the candidate you know than ever before.
Because typically the candidate would, it was sort of a. Excel, you know, it was sort of an acceleration of information as you'd go through the interview process from phone to in-person, you'd learn a lot more when you'd go in person. Well, now you're not going in person. So you've got to, you know, every, every impression of course the candidate makes an impression on every, every video call, but so does the client and you know, I took on unemployment really didn't go upthat much.
So it candidates are still pretty choosy. You know, clients need to put their best foot forward now in video. So it might be, you know, we have to ask the candidate and make sure we know what, what they really, what their concerns are and what they want to know. And we have to make sure that the client speaks to that in the interview.
So we spend a lot more time, I would say, prepping the camp, prepping the client after we afterwards prep the candidate. And then hopefully the, the there'll be enough, good information exchange, both ways that they'll get all the information they need.
William: I love that. I love it. Phillip Miller asked the question, we're, we're going to get to this, but I think it's, it's a good way to kind of start the processes.
Do you think going into the office is a thing of the past, so.
John: about your business. I could say
William: we'll use Phillips
John: in the office down. I think I'm already here.
No, no, no. We can, we could definitely segue if you want to. Current state future, if you want. Let's do that. Let's do that. All right. Great. Well, you know, we're pretty, we're pretty optimistic that this is going to be a good year from a, from a, where are we going to do it from standpoint? I think we're going to continue to be remote or mostly remote until it's really, really, really safe to go outside and to, to engage with a lot of other people.
We've found that we can do our jobs quite well in the world of senior team. I don't have any brand new people on my team right now. So, so when I'm not doing basic training but the senior recruiters have all the tools now they needed to do the job well. And until it's really safe to go out, I'm not gonna ask them to go in because they don't want anybody to feel uncomfortable.
I spent $800 putting up plexiglass back in September thinking things were getting better and then they got worse. So I don't know if we'll ever take the plexiglass down, but it, it looks nice, but never used it. I think you know, the unknown is, is really what the, what the benefit's going to be when didn't know if we were to be back in the office.
You know, how much are we missing? From a brainstorming perspective, from a cultural perspective, we still need all of this everyday on video, but now a lot of us haven't seen each other in a year now, almost so. I think if once it's safe to go out, I'm thinking maybe we try since we're mostly all within driving distance or train distance, we might try doing one day on a week, a week together.
Just to see what that's like and see, try it for a few weeks and see if people are maybe, maybe everybody will really enjoy working together and that'll be a plus. And if it's a plus for them, it's a plus for the company. Maybe I'll maybe we'll bring out a different kind of lunch every time we do that, just to make it fun, but we're not spending much plenty of entertaining elsewhere right now.
So that's kind of what I'm thinking. You know, we want to keep putting in tools to make the whole team more efficient and help, help do a better job. We just put in a client portal to, to help keep, you know, we work on jobs with a client. Now, the client's got a portal. They can see all the resumes we sent.
For all the jobs we've sent in one place, instead of having them strewn through their increasingly crowded inbox. So that's a new, that's a new thing where we've just put in, which I think is going to help us going forward and as clients get busier. So I've got to decide as a year what to do with my office.
My lease is up at the end of the year, like that a nice office, big open, flat. I don't. I just don't know what time will tell. Hopefully we'll get to the point where we can experiment a little bit and I'll be able to make sort of an informed decision. But if I had to bet right now, I'd say we'll probably give up that space and find some sort of, you know, Regis or we work kind of space where we can, where we can have enough space when we want to have meetings or want to have a client or candidate come in, have a gathering place, have an address, but.
Not go there every day. That's kind of what I'm thinking. We might end up, but we'll see.
William: It's it's interesting because some people you know, most people have kind of pontificated about a hybrid model of, of work and workplace. And, and the way that they foresee that is basically based on what are the needs of the clients that we serve, the customers that we serve and how do we need to work in future.
But also there's by, you know, how do our employees want to work now that we've for a year? We've sped up some things there probably were already there that were going to be sped up, but we sped some things up and we've also gotten used to. I think John, you haven't been to the office that many times since, since since you, since you kind of closed it down, you know, how different would it be for you to then say, okay, I'm going to be in the office five days a week.
And and so some of that is like we've gotten used to it. Employees have gotten used to work a certain way. So one of the things I think there's going to be a factor for all staffing firms is to also figure out you've still got to service your clients. You still got to service your talent and you've got your employees.
So you're, you're in that servicing business. What's the best model. Like I don't think there's going to be one model that dominates. I think it's, I think it's going to be staffing firm by staffing firm that says, you know what, we'll take that 10,000 square feet, reduce it down to one, make it a hoteling, you know, office sway with Misha, just a bunch of conference rooms.
Office with just social hauling space and that's going to be our new work environment and those that want to go to, into the office. I mean, you know, you and I are a little bit older in the city and ******* two of them in diapers she wants to go to the office. First of all, she's an extrovert.
Probably I should caveat this just a bit. She's an extrovert. So she's missing being around people, but, but she all, she wants that separation between work and office. The office and go do those things. So it's going to be recover an interesting, you know, transition back once we, you know, once everyone's vaccinated, et cetera, once we have the ability to transition back in, it's going to be interesting to see how companies, how staffing companies approach those to those models.
John: Right. Right. And especially for training new hires you know, the traditional model for most staffing firms is, you know, bringing a new hire into an office, surround them with experienced people, you know, let them hear what everybody else is doing. And, and, and. Give it your best? Well, that's really difficult to do and that's remote environment.
So I've, I read actually, I read a very interesting article on your website about a company that is doing it and, you know, creating you know, where everybody turns their camera on and you can in effect, listen in on other people's calls and using call shadowing and other techniques, which we have. But so we haven't you know, I think the tools are there to do it.
But it'll still, haven't done it before. It's going to be a challenge, you know,
William: it's, it's, it's re the, we talked about this the other day, that training is going to be very interesting because the way that we've trained traditionally that, that indoctrination of once, which we all find somebody, we onboard them, we drop them into the deep end of the pool.
They listen, they go through all the, we teach them the universe of knows, and you know how to on both sides, you know how to work with clients and really manage expectations, do that with candidates as, and, and you and I have been kind of grown up in experiences where people just learn from being in the room, you know, and listening to other people talk on the phone, right.
They hear one side of that conversation. And a lot of our training has been that type of training, which is, you know, there's no knock on that training. That's how a lot of people have been successful. Now, if people already in the office are not as frequently we're going to have to re staffing training.
We're gonna have to re especially new hire, you know, someone that's done the bid for 20 years. It's a big deal. Higher staffing training. We're going to have to rethink that from, you know, from start to finish.
John: Yeah, absolutely. Well, we've we brought on three new people since the, since COVID and all remote, but they're all, they all had experience in the business.
So that's been kind of what I've been looking for, but I did was I had them, their training. Yeah. But there were pieces that I might've done the old way. I might've taken her in the conference room and spent an hour. Now, what I do is I had various team members spend, you know, get on a teams, call with them for an hour and work on a piece of the model, work on learning, Bullhorn, work on learning, you know, whatever pieces of our tech that we have and learn our processes and in, so doing build a little of that relationship with, with the rest of the team.
So I think that's worked pretty well. It's been successful so far. So
William: can I ask and please, if I mispronounce your name, please, please help me with that. But I love your question. Customers are getting phone calls, shocking. Do you think, do you. Who would be willing to meet in person? Once things go back to normal, we'll use air quotes for normal.
Cause I think that's what she meant. You know, the reticence. Will clients have the reticence to meet either candidates, talent, or even yourself? You know, you might take clients out to dinner or take them to a ball game or, you know, whatever you do to, to really kind of meet with clients and do things with clients.
Do you think that they'll have a reticence? Do you think that that will be there as a barrier for, for your clients?
John: Well, I think, I think it's going to be a little bit more, I think, where you have client relationships already, those people, they want it, they're going to want to go see you and we'll go meet them where they are.
You know, we've got a lot of clients who their offices are closed indefinitely. They're working from home, but once it's, once I've already done a couple of, of lunches and dinners, but I know. Once it's safe to go out, say vertigo out. We won't have any trouble getting back in front of our clients, but we'll go meet them where they are.
In the meantime, we'll do video calls with them with, with new clients and, and you know, the reason to go see a new client is typically to build a relationship and to see the work site and see, you know, so you can sell the job properly, represent the job properly. So it's a lot of, it's gonna depend on if the, if the work site is.
You know, we used to say, we won't take an order unless we can go to see the site. Well, now what if the manager's not going in? Cause the place is not open. Well, we'll just do a video interview. I think we'll do a video call then we'll say we need to meet you because I need to, I need to know you and I'd need to tell my candidates about you and your team.
So there'll be a mix depending on situation and a long-term. I think my, I think people like dealing with people and I, I think we'll see people start to get together again. Yeah. Okay.
William: What do you think about candidates that are that are now getting used to either promote or maybe even, even, you know, indeed.
I think number one, we talked about it. The number one search phrase is remote work. Maybe now they're going, getting, not, I wouldn't say addicted, but maybe they see the possibility of, I don't have to live in San Francisco. I don't have to live in this city for that job. I can. I can live in South Dakota and still do the job.
What, what do you think about that as a trend going forward? Like remote work got pushed upon us because of COVID, but, but now candidates are asking more about remote work. In fact, they're searching for jobs based on remote work. Do you see that as something that will kind of come, come back to us? Or do you think that that's kind of something that's here to stay.
John: I think, I think that's the single biggest change in the whole industry. And I, and I, I think there's going to be a lot of remote hiring over the next couple of years. A because they have to right now but also I, I, unless we find out, unless there's. You really find out that the client, the remote workforce is not as if not as effective.
But it's, you know, in, in tech, especially where it's so hard to find people it's so hard to find people in any given place. It was so expensive to move people to the bay area, you know, so, I mean, these tech workers can sit at home and do their job quite well. So I really think that, that we're going to see a lot of it.
I think clients I've got clients right now that are like, well, we're definitely, we want people back on site when we reopened. And I'm like, well, what about right now? You're trying to hide. So do you want somebody that's remote? Do you want them to promise? Make sure they're going to relocate to be onsite and the clients have to be decisive.
Now if they want to hire, they just have to make a commitment. You know, the next couple of years for this person, tell us what you want. You want to remote. Are you open to remote or you really want somebody who's local or will definitely relocate to come in when, cause you want your team all back onsite.
Some companies got a fairly big client here that that is just insistent that they get everybody back on the office. So you know, for those, as long as they just make a decision.
William: Yeah, that's going to be interesting because there's going to be people that don't want to work for that company in the future because of the, because of the appearance of inflexibility which is probably not true.
It's just, you know, people, they, you know, they like being in the office. They want everybody to be in the office, probably have a nice office. They probably spend a lot of time, money and energy and making it a nice office. And some of this is, you know, John, some of this is, I think we touched on the other day, this has been kind of a.
Sure. You know, you know, the culture of the office, you go in, you have coffee, you talk about, you know, sports or whatever. You talk to your clients, you talk to talent, you kind of work your bits. And this is, you know, to lunch. You might go out to drinks afterwards, a part of what we've considered culture has been the office.
And when you take that away, well, what is culture?
John: Yeah, absolutely. Well, and whether it's through a client company or your own staffing company, it's definitely somebody you've got to consider. And you know, I mean we've had, and, and our clients have had, I think, a very minimal amount of HR issues since everybody went right, I mean, yes, you miss the company culture, but you also don't have like people getting in cat fights and, you know, annoying each other and everything else because their action is in small installs and small parts.
William: Somebody stole my lunch, somebody stole my line.
John: That's right. You'd left that in the fridge, you know, who put that in my trashcan?
William: it's Krista and west. Both. I have two great questions. Let's let's, let's try on Christus first. Wha what do you think will happen with pay salaries with remote work clients lowering, sorry. San Francisco or keeping them the same or et cetera. Like what do you think from a staffing perspective, you know, about location-based pay, what do you think will be kind of this near term and also in the future?
What do you think that looks like? Great question to
John: Krista. That's a very good question. And I've been, you know, obviously it's in the news every week. It seems there's some article about people fleeing the bay area and moving to Boise and still making the same money they made. The, the one data point I had is there was a Connecticut company that we had here, a bank who decided, instead of having everybody here, they were going to move a bunch of people down south.
When they made that move and they offered people the chance to be remote or to move to this other location, they actually did, you know, reduce the salaries in commensurate with cost of living. And that went with the offer. And some people didn't, it didn't sit well with some, and it sat well with others.
But they, the client took that approach. That we're part of the reason we're doing this is to move into a lower cost area. I could see clients taking that same approach with, with. Remote work or with, you know, different locations only because the only reason you pay so much in San Francisco, it was partly demand, but it's also partly the cost of living.
You know, if, if, if you're going to let people work from a place where their cost of living is less, I think the clients are going to try to pay pay a fair wage to whatever, wherever the candidate will take. You know, it's the moving the people from the high salaries to lower salaries. That's the tricky part, right?
For new hires, you know, you just have to talk about people's expectations and make them an offer that they'll accept. So I think it's less of a problem of new hires and I think companies should be, you know, we're we're here.
I was just saying we're in the New York area. So this is a pretty expensive place to live relatively. I imagine if, as we start to. Yeah, clients want to let us fill jobs with remote candidates. We'll probably come up with some savings for them in some cases. No, unless the perfect candidate is in San Francisco.
I'm gonna trace by the maybe more expensive.
William: So I've got to have hot take on this. John and you'll, you'll, you'll probably not like it, but I, I don't believe I think location based pay has been outed is essentially how we've gotten to pay in equities or a part of way, the way that we've gotten to pay an equities.
And, and if we're just paying for the job, like to make it fair paying for the job is paying for the *** of where they choose to live. So if you choose to live in Tokyo or, you know, you know, Sydney or Manhattan, that's a choice. And I know people will then say, look, my family's there and this and the other well, yeah.
All true. Sure. And so if you want to make things fair and equitable, then you take location-based pay out of it and you make you make it about the job. What are you doing? You're writing 400 lines of code today. Great. Whether or not you can do that in Scarsdale or Scottsdale, does it make a difference?
Coat. And I think that that's hard. I mean, especially the way that we've grown up because we've associated well, well, if you've lived in LA, you know, it's so expensive to live in LA. Well, why do you live in LA? There's plenty of other places to live that are not offensive. So I, it's a, it's a hot take. I, we say that it's a, a take that a lot of people are happy with.
Challenges the status of, well, there's a reason that we pay people differently. Well, a part of that reason that we pay people differently is we're also paying the we're, we're hiding inequities with race, gender, sexual orientation, et cetera, or hiding some of those inequities inside location-based pay.
It's not totally there. There's other reasons and other ways that we hide those inequities. But I think if you strip all that. And you just basically make it the job, the job 10 years of experience doing this bit is this band of pay regardless of where you work or where you live. I think you can, you can make that transparent.
And again, you can highlight where inequities are and then fix the inequity. So not, it's not necessarily a sanctioned opinion for the summit, but I have a hard take on location-based pay. So we'll, we'll leave that there and discuss that later offline.
John: I saw it and we did, we did have other, oh, go ahead.
John: The question about always seeing pressure from clients that believe there's a surplus of talent out there. Absolutely. And it's a total misconception. You know, I hear about a few layoffs and then all of a sudden there's just hundreds of candidates to choose from. It's, it's, we're battling that constantly, but thankfully through tech serve, you know, our industry association and other statistics, you can show.
You know, the fact that unemployment in IT is actually quite low and as did not shoot up to anywhere near the average unemployment rate. So you just have to battle that with facts, but it's definitely, we see it in every little downturn. Oh, all these people are at work. So I wish that was the case.
I would also want more candidates to give to my clients.
William: Yeah, exactly. I think, I think that be, you know, because we're talking about all staffing firms, depending on where you staff, right. You're, you're staffing it and that's what you've, you've been your firms known for. They, they, you saw very little dip and, and we went from a candidate driven market in say late 19, early 20 to an employer driven market for a lot of industries and for a lot of positions, but not years.
Years years solid, maybe a little bit of a dip, kind of more of a, you know, what's going on type of dip and, and the talent is still it's. It's still a candidate driven market. It's
John: still, it's still pretty good. I mean, I will say, I mean, so.
I was just going to say the candidates, some, some, you know, there was definitely some pain in post COVID. I mean, some of it, some of our, some of our consulting workers were asked to work less hours. You know, there were less projects that the client, but the client didn't want to let the person go. So they had to, instead of working 40 hours, they had to cut back to 20 or 30 hours for awhile.
I've heard some of my peers in the industry had clients come and demand. Bill rate cuts. So you had a lot of clients and staffing firms had decide, you know, is, is any job better than no job, you know, for awhile, what are we going to do? And how do we deal? How do we deal with this pressure, right?
How do we deal with pressure? That should be temporary because it's caused by this weird thing called a pandemic. And it's not a permanent economic, it's not a long-term economic dislocation or trend. So there've been a lot of interesting conversations and personally, I've been happy to. Have the tech serve, you know, peers to bounce those off of in our monthly round tables and see how different people are handling it.
William: So while you were looking at John's question, I was looking at Wess questions. So let me, let me pitch that to you. Thoughts on internal retention and attraction of new, new talent going forward with so many large organizations putting a stake in the ground and smaller brick and mortar, remote opportunities for competitive, what will, what will be a hundred percent remote?
So let's that's Ivy. John let's do that.
Yeah, let's do the agency side as well as talent side.
John: Okay. Well, I think I, I kinda covered it on the, on the client side. I, I really do think there's going to be a lot of opportunities. And, and. You know, if you'd have talked to me a year and a half ago, I would have said, maybe hire a remote remote recruiter, like an Iowa away.
How would that work? And now I'm like, bring it on. You know, I just I just hired a recruiter. Who's doing great. 30 miles away, but in our commuting, New York, terrible commute, we have here, it's like an impossible commute. You would never want to do it. But he's come on board. If we do the, if we do the one day a week thing, I think he'll be okay with it.
You know, we wouldn't want to commute every day to the office, but, you know, so there's definitely opened up opportunities for us. What other pieces were part of that question?
William: I think, yeah, I think you've handled it. You did it both on the client side and the talent side. I think, I think we hit remote. Rajiv has a question and I think it would be really good for us to tackle it's. What is the impact of the MSP MSP VMs and the future of staffing firms going forward? So, what do you, what do you think?
Cause, cause with those technologies, the, obviously they they're gaining a lot of traction and helping firms, especially procurement be able to standardize staffing contracts, et cetera. And in, in, in most of the world kind of hit pause. What do you think that that world looks like going forward?
John: Well, my, my, my, what I've seen over the past, 10 years or so is, is sort of a plant towing of the penetration of VMs. I mean, they definitely are in all the big accounts for the most part and a huge percentage of the big accounts have VMS. I was worried for a while, how low or how small or, you know, could they, what would you start to see VMs and mid-size companies that has not really happened. I think there's a certain point at which it's too expensive to put a person on site or whatever. So, you know, we'll, we'll, we'll, the BMS has really ever get down into the next level of, of there's gotta be an, a volume there for it to make sense for a Beeline or a field glass or for a client.
So, so that's what I've seen. You know, the, the other thing that's really impacted. Parts of the staffing businesses, the rise of talent acquisition. And so many companies have built a strong talent acquisition teams to work on their full-time jobs. So for, for staffing firms that did a lot of full-time and contract, that's another thing that we've been working with, but, you know, we've, we've tried to partner with the TA people and usually it's the it positions that they struggle with the most.
So we we try to make sure that we're there with them and partner with where they need us. But VMs, you know, I kind of feel like in, in our industry, you're either going to be a VMs focused at staffing firm or you're going to be a direct high, you know, direct with manager kind of staffing firm.
It's, it's just such a different experience. I do personally feel that there are some opportunities for, for VMS is to, to make it a better experience for their vendors. You know, with video, I mean, you could spend more time. You could, these, these math manager calls could be a lot more, it'd be better than they've ever been.
Feedback could be a lot better than somebody who's just got to, we really want to make it better. And so far, I haven't really seen that across, but we're, we're not a big VMs player, so I know there's a lot going on in the VMs space that I'm not exposed to. So I've focused, you know? Yeah. Yeah, I think we're going to stay in our lane.
William: Right. Which in question, I think now, knowing what, you know, would you, would you build a staffing firm? That's more niche
William: Yeah, I assume
John: so. I don't think there's any, and I don't think there's any end to the rate pressure that you get into when you're in a volume situation. So it's not getting any, it's a commodity and I don't think people are a commodity and I don't think good recruiting is, is you know, good recruiting and, and it's good recruiting and there's a, there's a place for it.
I'll just leave it. Yeah. Right.
William: So, so. Is for, for, for the rest of 21, I'm going to give you a magic wand. Okay. You don't get to keep I get it back at the end of the session, but I'm gonna give you a magic wand, give you one wish for your business, for your clients and for the talent that you deal with. And one which one wish each let's go through each of those wishes.
What's the wish that you have for your own business.
John: Oh, God, you should have, you should have told me about this question. I just
business is that, you know, we do have a nice bump up from last year. And that all my, my team members have a good experience and they all have a good year and that's, you know, we're just a collection. Of individuals working together every day. And I want, I don't want them all to be happy and and, and take care of their, their clients and candidates and families.
So, and I, and I want the, you know, I want us to be able to get out by mid-year for, for candidates clients. And I want us to, you know, and we're all three parts of the triangle. I want us to be able to get out and see people again for, for You know, and for clients, I want them to it's going to be tough for clients because this whole, where are they going to work?
Thing is a, is a big deal. We can keep going remote, but some of our bigger clients, it's going to be really interesting how they work. So I'm just hoping for economic expansion. Overall. My magic line is, you know, I hope that we'll have expansion that raises all the boats. I hope that I'll see maybe, you know, some.
You know, continue to see more recruiting technology come in. That is reasonably priced, new mousetraps. That'll help us do our job more effectively, whether it's AI or other tools to, to make the business run better for our clients and candidates create more, better connections, more transparency. I look forward to those.
So. I'll keep the wind by the way, a little bit more.
William: My wish is that you keep doing the inspirational quotes, no matter what that stays with us, it goes forward. No matter what goes on with this more inspirational quotes folks, this has been, yeah. An hour has blown by John has broken down and given us a bunch of wisdom, a bunch of things to think about.
We need to get y'all on to your next session. So thank you so much for showing up to ours but also make sure it's respectful the next session, John.
John: Thanks William. Keep in touch. Thanks everybody.
William: Absolutely take care, everyone. Thank you. And get over with the next session and let's all. Have a great day.
John: Awesome. Take care.