Exploring Business Challenges and Innovative Solutions at Staffing World

The full desk experience exploring business challenges and innovative solutions at staffing world.

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Welcome to another episode of The Full Desk Experience, the original podcast brought to you by Crelate. In today’s episode, we dive into the highlights from Staffing World, featuring interviews with industry professionals on the show floor. Join host Kortney Harmon as she speaks with Tawanda Huff, Dot Peterson, Marnie Byner, Christy Connard, Anna Lisa, Sheena Ronnicker, and Pat Hudson about their experiences, challenges, and takeaways from the conference. From discussions on technology and AI to the importance of work-life balance and customer engagement, this episode offers valuable insights into the staffing industry today. Tune in and discover the latest trends and themes that are shaping the future of staffing.



Pat Hudson [00:00:00]:

Most people want to lift and shift and believe that, well, if I just go to a faster car, I’m going to win a race.

Kortney Harmon [00:00:08]:

Shiny new to object, right?

Pat Hudson [00:00:10]:

Don’t work that way. In fact, it slows them down.

Kortney Harmon [00:00:13]:

Hi, I’m Courtney Harmon, director of industry relations at Crelate. Over the past decade, I’ve trained thousands of frontline recruiters and I’ve worked with hundreds of business owners and executives to help their firms and agencies grow. This is the full desk experience accrilate original podcast where we will be talking about growth blockers across your people, processes and technologies. Welcome to another episode of the Full Desk Experience. On this episode of the Full Desk Experience, we bring you more of the interactions we had with attendees on the show floor. Listen in to hear the themes and trends happening in the staffing industry today.

Kortney Harmon [00:01:03]:

All right, I’m here with Tawanda. Tawanda, give us your name, where you’re from, what office you are at, and kind of what you do.

Tawanda Huff [00:01:09]:

Okay, my name is Tawanda Huff.

Tawanda Huff [00:01:11]:

I am the owner of Absolute staffing and Consulting solutions. We are headquartered in Maryland.

Kortney Harmon [00:01:17]:

Amazing. So what kind of staffing do you do?

Tawanda Huff [00:01:19]:

So we do pretty much a lot of different verticals.

Kortney Harmon [00:01:22]:

It’s easy for me to tell you.

Tawanda Huff [00:01:23]:

What we don’t do. We don’t do construction, armed security guards and hospitality. Everything else, fair game. We have a good footprint in insurance, claims adjusters, nurse case managers, good footprint in call centers, customer service, IT healthcare are some strong areas for us.

Tawanda Huff [00:01:42]:

I love it.

Kortney Harmon [00:01:42]:

So you do it all, which is amazing. Talk to me about any business problems that may have brought you here to staffing world that you’re kind of forefront in your mind that you’re looking to solve here.

Tawanda Huff [00:01:52]:

So I don’t know that we had any problems. I have never been. I’ve actually been in business 20 years and I just joined ASA and I never did one of these staffing conferences. I’ve done all kinds of conferences and the disciplines in which we service, but I’ve never done an actual staffing conference. So this is the first one for me and my team, about five other people with me on my team members loving the conference so far. I’m finding that I’m interacting with a lot of companies that I’m not using, that I probably could be using to make our life a lot easier. So really happy to be here. Glad I came.

Tawanda Huff [00:02:29]:

Looking forward to it next year, especially since it’s going to be in Nashville.

Kortney Harmon [00:02:32]:

So what you’re telling me there’s a lot of technology that you’re walking around, coming away with, and maybe that’s what you’re going to be taking home to the group.

Tawanda Huff [00:02:39]:

What I’m taking home to the group.

Kortney Harmon [00:02:40]:

I love it. Thank you so much for joining me. You’re welcome. Have a great conference. Thank you. All right, Katie here from the show floor here at Staffing World, and we have a special guest with us. Donnie, tell us your name, your title, where you’re from, and what you’re doing here.

Dot Peterson [00:02:55]:

Everything. I’m Dot Peterson. I am the owner of a higher power. We are a staffing agency that specialize in convention and event staffing.

Kortney Harmon [00:03:04]:

And it’s the best name out there.

Dot Peterson [00:03:05]:

Totally the best name.

Tawanda Huff [00:03:06]:

Ahire power.

Kortney Harmon [00:03:07]:

I love it. So what brought you here? Any challenges, things that you’re looking to get out of staffing World?

Dot Peterson [00:03:13]:

So I come to staffing World every year. You’ve got to, especially someone like me. So, because I’m not a franchise, I’m just my own business. I don’t have access to all of these vendors, knowing all the things that are out there for my business, what can help me grow all those things. I don’t have a team. I’m the team. And so this is my one stop shop. This is my opportunity to come and see what’s out there, learn about the new laws and things.

Dot Peterson [00:03:35]:

There’s a lot as a business owner, especially one that has offices in more than one state, because something could be changing here, but it’s not changing here. I am the legal team.

Tawanda Huff [00:03:43]:


Dot Peterson [00:03:47]:

So this is the place to get it.

Kortney Harmon [00:03:49]:

I love it. It’s like a kid in a candy store here. Honestly, when you come in, there are so many vendors here. So I’m guessing you’re looking for some integration partners, some things to add to what your current tech stack is today.

Dot Peterson [00:04:00]:

Absolutely. So we’re looking at all of the new. Well, they’re not really new. They’d be new to us. Potential ATS. Because what we have is very old. We love it, but it’s very old. I mean, like, I had made a joke with someone that a pterodactyl was probably part of its programming, but it works, but it’s coming to an end.

Dot Peterson [00:04:18]:

So this is my place to find out what works. Also, the things I don’t know about.

Kortney Harmon [00:04:23]:

I love it. Right.

Dot Peterson [00:04:24]:

I mean, there’s things that you think you know, and I’ll talk to somebody, I’m like, oh, really? You put ads on W two envelopes? Did you know that person’s here?

Kortney Harmon [00:04:33]:

I did not know that person.

Dot Peterson [00:04:34]:

That person is her. It’s very cool. So they’ll pay for your W two envelopes.

Kortney Harmon [00:04:38]:

I love it.

Dot Peterson [00:04:38]:

That’s just products and services like that that I didn’t even know were out there. So this is where you find out.

Kortney Harmon [00:04:43]:

Amazing. I’m glad that you’re here. It was so nice to meet you and I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference.

Tawanda Huff [00:04:47]:

I would love it.

Kortney Harmon [00:04:49]:

All right, I’m here on the show floor with Marnie. Marnie, tell us a little bit about you, your title and what office you’re from.

Marnie Byner [00:04:55]:

My name is Marnie Byert. I am COO for supreme Staffing. Our headquarters is in Memphis, but we’re sprinkled all over the United States.

Kortney Harmon [00:05:03]:


Marnie Byner [00:05:03]:

We just staffed to the light industrial some direct hire in a higher skilled position.

Kortney Harmon [00:05:08]:

Amazing. So any business challenges you had that are maybe top of mind as you come into staffing world this year?

Marnie Byner [00:05:16]:

I think it’s always technology. Technology is always changing.

Kortney Harmon [00:05:19]:


Marnie Byner [00:05:19]:

And the new thing is what AI and I think conversation I was having this morning is, are we just going to go straight to AI and lose the whole humanization of our world? Because that’s our platform, our foundation that keeps the house up.

Kortney Harmon [00:05:31]:

Right? Absolutely.

Marnie Byner [00:05:32]:

So I think that’s trying to be here and understanding that is most important.

Kortney Harmon [00:05:36]:

What was the key word this morning? Human in the loop. Keep a human in the loop.

Marnie Byner [00:05:39]:


Kortney Harmon [00:05:40]:

Okay. Obviously AI is a big talk. Any other top of mind? Aha. Moments that are like, all right, this is now top of my mind or something I need to take back to my office.

Marnie Byner [00:05:50]:

I think it’s always just understanding the market and there’s always something new that you’re like, wait, I didn’t think about that. Right. Communication. So there’s changes in maybe texting, maybe emailing and stuff like that. So there’s always some new adventures out here at the booth that tells us something new, that we’re like, fair.

Kortney Harmon [00:06:09]:

Any of those this morning so far as you were walking around the booth a little bit?

Marnie Byner [00:06:13]:

Just trying to educate.

Kortney Harmon [00:06:14]:

I think education is important.

Marnie Byner [00:06:15]:

I come from the background, so I think it’s always important to keep yourself in tune and educate it and make sure you’re researching.

Kortney Harmon [00:06:22]:

As a CEO, it’s your job to take charge and lead into battle. Right?

Tawanda Huff [00:06:26]:


Kortney Harmon [00:06:26]:

Well, Marnie, thank you so much for joining us and I hope you enjoy the rest of your conference. Thank you. What has been the biggest challenge or issue that you have in your office that you’ve brought today or throughout this entire conference? That it’s like thinking forefront of your mind?

Marnie Byner [00:06:41]:


Anna Lisa [00:06:42]:

So we are a second generation family business. My mother founded us 37 years ago. Amazing. I’ve taken over with my older brother, and we are 80% female. Our entire executive team is female. Other than our CEO, who’s Frank? My brother. And I’m a new mom. So being a new mom, I have this whole new sense of, like, how can we make mom work life better? Which I didn’t understand before.

Anna Lisa [00:07:07]:

I knew it was important, and I tried to give as much flexibility, but in the lead industrial staffing, that’s just hard to do. It was a big topic conversation at thrive, and the opening keynote, one of the main points they made was like, how do you make the mother’s work life better? And that is something that I am now like, oh, my gosh, we got to do this. We got to figure this out. We have to allow these moms to be home more. We have to allow them to not miss soccer games and all these things. That just wasn’t point of mind before. And my mom, when she started the business, it was like you just had to work and work and work to prove yourself, and you still have to. There’s no doubt about it.

Anna Lisa [00:07:42]:

But we can do better. And I want to just continue to push that more than anything else. And as a new mom, my baby is nine months old today, actually, and first grandchild in the family, this and that. So it’s like we’re all thinking about it, and I am lucky. I have the flexibility as an owner. But now I need to be able to let my team have that, too, and figure out a way to make that happen.

Kortney Harmon [00:08:02]:

So I’m going to ask you a two parter to this. Okay. You’re thinking about that for your team. Can you think about how you can change the industry? Even for light industrial, any female workers that are there?

Anna Lisa [00:08:11]:

That is a really good point. And there used to be this company years and years ago, and I don’t think they’re around anymore, but it was in staffing, they were called ten to two. And so it was focused on moms who needed something to do, needed to work, but we’re only going to go in a few hours a day. I think that just having these conversations with clients of, like, there’s this unbelievable workforce out there. First shift starting at five or 06:00 a.m. Ain’t going to work because they got to get their kids off to school. And second shift, starting at two, is also not going to work. So can we just be creative and say, hey, we could use more people at work.

Anna Lisa [00:08:41]:

But let’s give it condensed schedules. Keep it hourly, do whatever you have to do, and just allow some flexibility. I think it’s a huge opportunity, and especially for seasonal workers. Yeah, seasonal workers, they want to come in. They need to make some money for the holidays, things like that. Give them a schedule that’s reasonable. You can’t work overnight as a mom and then be expected to actually be able to take care of your kids during the day. That doesn’t work.

Kortney Harmon [00:09:02]:

No, but your clients don’t even think about it that way. Sometimes they really think like, this is the option. This is the way it’s always been. But whenever you have retention problems, you have people that aren’t showing up for work, you’re getting ghosted. You need reliable workforce, and that’s a great conversation to be had.

Anna Lisa [00:09:18]:

I completely agree. That was a big part of it. You think about your own staff and oh, my gosh, what can we do for them? But we put out 1500 people to work a day. I can’t tell you off top of my head how many are women, but it is a minority of the group and because they just can’t do the hours. So what can we do to make it better?

Kortney Harmon [00:09:33]:

So any other Aha. Moment, that’s a big aha. Moment. It sounds like a huge takeaway. Is there anything else Aha that you’re going to take back to your office?

Anna Lisa [00:09:40]:

I think I’m so fixated on that. That was a huge part of it. But I think more than anything, bringing back just a certain level of just organization to every day. We got away from a lot of the in person client stuff during COVID and getting back to scheduling regular meetings with customers, getting in their faces, having that interaction, that kind of went away. We hid behind the screens for so long and let’s get out, let’s get them to lunch. Let’s do more stuff like that. The customer engagement, I think, has really fallen as well. And we were just so complicit for so long and just trying to focus on filling orders and doing that, and they were happy to do the same.

Anna Lisa [00:10:14]:

But the market is super competitive again. Clients are out there looking at other vendors and things like that. It’s like it’s time to step that back up.

Kortney Harmon [00:10:20]:

I love it. Sounds like you have some great takeaways. I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference. Thank you. Thank you very much. All right, I’m here on the show floor with Sheena. Sheena, tell me who you are, what organization you’re with. And what your title is?

Sheena Ronnicker [00:10:33]:

Sheena Ronniker.

Sheena Ronnicker [00:10:34]:

I am president and founder of Integrity Staffing Group. We are based out of Oklahoma.

Kortney Harmon [00:10:38]:

Amazing. So coming to staffing World this year, maybe biggest challenge on your mind? Something front of your brain that you’re really kind of keeping your ears open for.

Sheena Ronnicker [00:10:48]:

I think for attention of our internal team, trying to eliminate burnout and just making sure that we have some support for our moms.

Kortney Harmon [00:10:54]:

I love that. So what is based on the challenges that you’re thinking through, what is the biggest takeaway that you’ve kind of gathered or AHa. Moment that you’re going to take back to your team?

Sheena Ronnicker [00:11:04]:

AI and some of the tech stack that we can implement. So there’s some that we’re utilizing but maybe not. We’re maybe underutilizing them and some that we can implement that kind of takes away that monotonous work that turns them into kind of like that burnout situation and just making their jobs and their.

Sheena Ronnicker [00:11:20]:

Lives a little bit easier.

Kortney Harmon [00:11:21]:

I love it. So you said AI. Any sessions stand out besides that first keynote this morning, the one right after.

Sheena Ronnicker [00:11:27]:

It stood out and there was a panel and don’t ask me the name.

Sheena Ronnicker [00:11:31]:

Of it, but it was right after.

Sheena Ronnicker [00:11:32]:

In the same room.

Kortney Harmon [00:11:33]:

It was like the top ten technologies or something. Yes.

Sheena Ronnicker [00:11:36]:

There were so many. And if you can go online and find the program and they’ve got it uploaded to it, I would take that information and just rock through everything that they suggest.

Sheena Ronnicker [00:11:44]:

It was fantastic.

Kortney Harmon [00:11:46]:

I love that. Thanks for joining us. Enjoy the rest of the conference. Thank you. All right, I am on the show floor here with Pat. Pat, give me your name, your title, what company you work for.

Pat Hudson [00:11:55]:

My name is Pat Hudson, and I work for People, Inc. Staffing. We parent company, five different brands across the staffing spectrum. And I am the vice president of technology and business, or digital transformation.

Kortney Harmon [00:12:09]:

I love that. So you’re working with offices as a consultant. Tell me a little bit more about what that looks like.

Pat Hudson [00:12:15]:

It’s focusing on the people, process, and technology to enable folks to be more productive, to take advantage of technology, looking at what technology today can do in translating that into process and behaviors that they change. The challenge in staffing right now is that folks try to overlay technology into what they have always done, and the trick is take the technology and overlay, manage your behaviors, take advantage of the technology.

Kortney Harmon [00:12:48]:

I love that. So is that the number one challenge you had coming into today or this conference? Yeah.

Pat Hudson [00:12:54]:

Most people want to lift and shift and believe that. Well, if I just go to a faster car. I’m going to win a race.

Kortney Harmon [00:13:02]:

Shiny new to object, right?

Pat Hudson [00:13:04]:

Don’t work that way. In fact, it slows them down. The other component is the data. They have enormous amounts of data, have no idea what to do with. They don’t know how that relates to behavior and changing the behavior of that frontline focus, that where the customer meets the branch or the recruiter or the BDM, knowing what to do with that information to guide their customers to a better result, that’s the easiest.

Kortney Harmon [00:13:30]:

I love it.

Kortney Harmon [00:13:30]:

You made it sound so simple. Is there any other AHA moments that you’ve heard here at the conference or any sessions or any vendors that you’re going to maybe take back to the people that you’re working with?

Pat Hudson [00:13:39]:

Some of the recruiter AI capabilities, customer interface capabilities that are now coming to a little more maturity where folks can take advantage of taking a little bit of that front end with a recruiter relationship, taking that front end task off, taking that back end placement off, and focus them on what makes you money. Focus. If they can talk to five people a day, if you can move that to ten or twelve, that’s a win.

Kortney Harmon [00:14:07]:

I love that. All right here on the show floor with Christy. Christy, tell us a little bit about you, your title, and what office you’re from.

Christy Connard [00:14:15]:

My name is Christy Canard. I work for a small staffing agency in rural Southeast Ohio, and I’m the general manager. So I oversee operations for both office branches, hire for our internal team, train, fill job orders myself, pretty much wear all the hats.

Kortney Harmon [00:14:32]:

I love it.

Kortney Harmon [00:14:33]:

So I’m guessing you probably came to this conference with maybe a different perspective than a lot of people. So is there any business challenges that you’re facing in your office today that you’re kind of like, ears open for here on the show floor?

Christy Connard [00:14:46]:

Yeah, a couple of things. Benefits have always been a real big struggle for us just because of our size. So I was kind of shopping around for maybe some benefit options that pair well with staffing agencies because most standard benefit agencies don’t have the solutions that we need. I also am always on the hunt for technology. I attended the session about the Top 2023 technology options today, and that was really informative. I love workflow automation, and allowing this job requires so much time and prioritization, and you’re taken from one thing to another. So if there’s anything I can do to keep things less stressful for my team, that’s the kind of technology I’m always looking for.

Kortney Harmon [00:15:23]:

Do you currently use automation in your workflows today?

Christy Connard [00:15:25]:

We do, yes, with our ATs that we currently have. There’s a tool that uses that, adding certain action notes or put things into place, and it does that. But I’m always looking for better things. If you stop looking, you’re never doing your job right.

Kortney Harmon [00:15:37]:

I love that. Is there any other takeaways that you’ve seen? Obviously you talked about AI. Is there any other takeaways that you’ve seen thus far at the show?

Christy Connard [00:15:44]:

I think that obviously the AI and the technology is in every threaded through all the conversations that was, for whatever reason, unexpected to, you know, small, rural Southeast Ohio. So we obviously know what it is, but it doesn’t really hit us that much. So that’s really interesting and how we can use it to help simplify things or help with research instead of look at it as like this scary new thing that’s happening. So that’s been helpful and I think eye opening. I wasn’t expecting that.

Kortney Harmon [00:16:10]:

I love that. That’s a great takeaway. And I’m sure it’s not here to go away. It’s here to stay. So I hope you have enjoy the rest of your conference and talk to you soon.

Christy Connard [00:16:18]:

Yeah, thank you.

Kortney Harmon [00:16:21]:

I’m Kortney Harmon with Crelate. Thanks for joining the full desk experience. Please feel free to submit any questions for next session to [email protected] or ask us live next session if you enjoyed our show. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast wherever you listen, and sign up to attend future events that happen once a month.

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