By Chris Walters, Senior Vice President, LRS Consulting Services
Our friends at TechServe Alliance reported in December that IT employment had posted four straight months of strong growth after the sector, like others, had been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here at LRS Consulting Services, we know the feeling.
Our business, which is finding the right IT consultants for our clients, was moving along like a freight train when shelter in place orders and other pandemic-related mandates shut down some of our clients and forced many of our consultants to work from home. But the absolute worst aspect of the restrictions for us was the elimination of face-to-face meetings.
We’ve obviously been using technology for years to keep in touch with our clients and talent – text messages, email, and phone calls are all part of this business. But we have always placed great value on the relationships we establish and maintain, and personal meetings have always been part of what we did to maintain relationships.
So, after COVID-19 mitigations went into effect at LRS and many other companies, we looked for additional ways to keep in touch. We used Zoom and Microsoft Teams to “see” our clients and consultants and find out what they needed. Because some of our consultants are essential workers and were still on-site, we tried to help them cope with that stress. For example, we had box lunches delivered to their work sites at least monthly, and we also provided LRS face masks.
Many of our clients are engaged in such essential industries as telecommunications, so we were continuing to recruit and place IT consultants, and that presented a problem: completing paperwork.
As an article on SHRM.org noted, we weren’t the only firm that faced the dilemma of hiring, or onboarding, talent without the capability to manage the process in person. To continue meeting the needs of our clients, we worked with our internal Human Resources and Legal staffs to find legitimate and cost-effective electronic methods for completing the required forms for hiring consultants.
We also implemented a new Applicant Tracking System, or ATS, that helps us manage an even more widely distributed team that’s mostly working from their homes.
Once we had those pieces in place, we looked for a way to keep our relationships with customers and consultants as strong as ever. We utilized third-party companies to help us host events such as whiskey tastings and help us set up microsites on the web where consultants could simply specify their address for a holiday gift to be shipped to them.
These solutions aren’t preferred and they certainly can’t replace a true face-to-face interactions, but they’re helping us stay in contact with our customers and consultants. They also gave us the opportunity to partner with local businesses whenever we can, because we understand how badly COVID-19 restrictions have hit them.
As we enter 2021, the IT staffing industry is definitely in a state of flux. We’re seeing positive signs, but it’s worth remembering that a year ago the biggest issue we faced was finding enough consultants to meet client needs. Now one of the biggest issues facing many businesses is whether all of their full-time workers will ever be required to work in the office five days a week.
I believe that 2021 will be a year of amazing recovery and growth. We have vaccines becoming available to the public and many companies have created new ways to pursue their business goals.
LRS Consulting Services will be here to serve our clients and consultants like always. From the beginning of pandemic restrictions, we have increased our focus on hiring managers and consultants, even creating a new position to help increase our focus and creativity relative to client engagement.
Possibly because of our increased focus, we were fortunate to post a good fiscal year. Our goal this year, as always, is to be an even better partner to our clients and consultants.
So, please, let us know what we can do to serve you.