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Failure was not an option: Staffing agency meets challenges of COVID-19

By November 23, 2020 No Comments
Failure was not an option: Staffing agency meets challenges of COVID-19

Deemed an essential business during the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, this plucky, upstart company and its leadership rose to the challenge in unprecedented times to support essential employers nationwide and job seekers eager to put food on their tables.

Since its launch in 2017, Partners Personnel has experienced exponential growth that has propelled it to earn spots on the Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) 2020 report on the Largest Industrial Staffing Agencies in the United States (No. 16) and Largest Staffing Agencies in the United States (No. 55). This success was no accident; it was the result of exceptional leadership, the ability to pivot, and grit.

Partners Personnel President Mark McComb said: “I think a lot of our attitude was ‘our clients, our associates and the greater nation, now more than ever, need us to be our best.’ This was a moment that was bigger than ourselves.”

While COVID-19 protocols are a challenge for all businesses, the nationwide staffing company had to ensure thousands of associates were complying with not only their rules and regulations but also those set by its individual clients.

After determining Partners Personnel was an essential employer because it supports so many essential businesses, Julie Danley, VP of Corporate & Employee Services, quickly became the company’s COVID-19 expert. “We work well under pressure and we are flexible,” Danley said. “That’s what I feel has been the reason for part of our success; we are able to pivot. We are not so stuck in our processes and procedures that something like COVID would ever come close to taking us down.”

VP of Risk Management Stephen Grimaud traveled to client facilities with a three-page list of questions to determine what exactly they were doing to protect Partners Personnel associates from exposure to COVID-19.

“Safety is every client every day,” Grimaud said. “Our role is to assess hazards and ensure clients are screening, cleaning [and] distancing.”

Many clients’ infectious disease response plans included having plexiglass and wash stations installed throughout the facility, a full-time cleaning staff dedicated to disinfecting equipment throughout the entire workday, temperature checks, screening questions, and social distancing.

As the demand for essential supplies and personal protective equipment grew, so did the need for manufacturing and distribution personnel. The Partners Personnel sales team was prepared to partner with essential clients.

“We focused on markets that would not only give us the ability to hit our goal but to surpass our goal,” Chief Sales Officer Tom Corte said. “During all this, it was imperative to me to keep that positive frame of mind so that everyone could buy into the fact that we’re making it happen.”

Since the beginning of the stay-at-home orders in March, Partners Personnel has brought in over 500 new accounts and an additional $4 million in weekly sales, employing nearly 20,000 associates. Corte said a strategic sales plan was not enough; it was the optimistic mindset and encouraging leadership that drove the results.

“Positive vibes are contagious,” Corte said. “It’s our job to ensure that companies run, that people get paychecks and that it’s a safe environment for themselves and their families.”

Erin Foschetti, Executive Vice President of Operations, said the company had to adjust its entire recruiting process. “We had to figure out how to remotely recruit and be able to still engage with our associates without having the in-person touch that we’ve always had,” Foschetti said.

The team was quick to capitalize on remote technology and scheduled company-wide recruiter training on how to conduct interviews via Zoom or Facetime. At the same time, the marketing team spearheaded a social media strategy to drive people to the website.

Out in the field, all 67 Partners Personnel branch teams had to put fear aside to keep the wheels of commerce moving. In efforts to keep themselves and others safe, they moved desks to comply with social distancing, installed plexiglass barriers and sanitizing stations, enforced mask policies, and had a sanitation crew come in daily.

“The relentless attention to it is really what it boils down to,” Regional Vice President Cecilia La Tour said. “We just adjusted to our new normal and it has made everyone feel like we can get through this, and we have. I think the key for Partners Personnel compared to our competitors is that we just kept going. We didn’t close our branches, we didn’t put up too many roadblocks for our customers, we’ve been here the entire time.”

The collective effort, passion, and perseverance of each department within Partners Personnel led to a 45% sales growth, a more resilient team, and great partnerships because each department maintained the same philosophy: ‘we are not going to fail.’

“Every time we’re up against an obstacle we tackle it and move forward anticipating the next one,” Danley said. “That’s what I think is great about working at this company, we are ready to be flexible, we are ready to pivot, and leadership welcomes that flexibility and allows it to do our jobs.”