Innovation and Technology Are the Top 2 Areas of Focus for Staffing Agency Owners

People 2.0 shares key takeaways from ASA Staffing World 2017

Staffing World 2017 took place October 24-26 in Chicago, IL and was jam-packed with new ideas, inspirational keynotes, industry updates and education on nearly every facet of the business.
People 2.0 was there, presenting a workshop, exhibiting on the tradeshow floor, and attending sessions. Here is an overview of some highlights from the conference:

Industry updates

ASA President and CEO, Richard Wahlquist, kicked off the conference by sharing good news about the industry overall:

  • Since the recession, staffing employment has grown nearly two times faster than the economy.
  • The ASA Staffing Index four-week moving average immediately proceeding Staffing World was the strongest reading in 2017, showing an increase of 1.88% over the same period in 2016.
  • Temporary jobs in October 2017 increased 4.12%, seasonally adjusted, from the same month last year.
  • Economists project GDP in 4Q 2017 will increase 2.7%.

Richard also discussed the two primary points of focus for owners attending the conference: innovation and technology. In general, technology played a center-stage role for the entire conference. Texting technology and artificial intelligence were two of the top tech topics.

Awards, Nominations and Elections

Every year, Staffing World is used as a platform to recognize special individuals both inside ASA and in the industry. Congratulations from People 2.0 to these individuals recognized for their accomplishments and contributions to the staffing industry:

Leadership Hall of Fame 2017 Inductee: Patricia Rohe, CSP

ASA 2017 Volunteer of the Year: Nicole Bieker, CSP

2018 All-Star Employee of the Year: Brittney Bourgeois

ASA 2018 Chairman of the Board of Directors: Kelly McCreight, CSP


The conference was full of highly engaging, thoughtful, and informative workshops. Below are brief descriptions of three we felt especially noteworthy.

During a session called “The New Language of Staffing,” ASA presented the results of a year-long research study about how the staffing industry communicates with job seekers, and the findings were astonishing. For example, some of the most common language that we, in the staffing industry, use to communicate the value of contingent jobs to candidates makes them less likely to engage in temporary work. And highlighting things that every staffing agency does naturally, like personally communicate with candidates and follow up on resume submissions, brings the most value in the job seeker’s mind. We’ll be sharing more takeaways from this groundbreaking study in a future blog post.

Sourcing Strategies in a Tight Labor Market” featured a friend of People 2.0, Tom Erb, president of Tallann Resources, and two co-presenters: Tom Gimbel, CEO of LaSalle Network and Brad Middleton, CSP, director of recruiting for Portfolio Creative. The three panelists discussed sourcing techniques each of their companies had attempted with varying degrees of success. They first shared their experiences with offshore sourcing. Middleton’s company found that communication had been too difficult with offshore partners, and the result was double work and decreased efficiency. Gimbel’s company had seen more success when limiting the work to sourcing only contact info and loading data into the company’s ATS. Each presenter also shared the success they had found with using a dedicated in-house sourcing resource because it keeps recruiters focused on relationship-building and forces them to work more consistently in the company’s ATS.

On day three of the convention, People 2.0 COO, Judi Bell, presented a workshop entitled “Running an Efficient Back Office to Maximize Profitability.” She detailed three areas that back office expenses erode profit: Compliance, Payroll and AR/Billing. Presenting to a room full of over 80 attendees, Judi gave actionable advice, tools and techniques for staffing companies to use in an effort to run a more cost and time-efficient back office.

Keynote presentations

Staffing World featured four remarkable, inspirational keynote speakers. Each delivered a powerful message for the staffing industry in a unique way.

First, author and tech entrepreneur Josh Linkner, encouraged the audience to be a source of disruption rather than a victim of disruption. Drawing on his depth of experience working with start-ups, Linkner presented fascinating examples of companies who defied tradition and challenged the status quo to achieve next-level success. Josh challenged the audience to seek a creative disruption in the staffing industry and devote energy and talent into turning vision into reality.

Next, on the main stage, was world-renowned marketing genius Jonathan Mildenhall. Jonathan gave a moving presentation on the value of a purpose-driven organization. Using examples from two purpose-driven companies he worked with, Coco-Cola Co. and AirBNB, Jonathan challenged staffing company owners to be deliberate about their purpose. Purpose-driven companies out-perform on every level: attracting better talent, retaining talent and attracting investors. Mildenhall stressed that purpose-driven companies drive performance and growth in the right ways, ensuring a legacy for the company for generations to come.

The third keynote speaker came in with a bang! Mark Schulman, professional drummer for artists like P!nk, Cher and Billy Idol, intertwined his music with his message: Top performance is an attitude. Mark gave examples throughout his life where “rock star” choices – which were often harder, more frightening and less certain than alternatives – led him to his path as a highly-sought after musician, speaker and author. Mark’s key takeaway for the audience was his ABC approach to life: Attitude, Behavior, Consequences. He shared that a shift in attitude leads to a positive change in behavior, which leads to desired consequences. The highlight for many in the audience was when Mark brought a member of the audience on stage and taught her how to play the drums live during the session.

Rounding out the keynote lineup was a deeply personal and poignant presentation by innovator Mick Ebeling. Mick challenged the audience to rethink what’s possible. “Everything that surrounds us was impossible at some point. So anything that is impossible today is on the way to becoming possible.” It was that belief, plus an inextinguishable entrepreneurial spirt, that lead Mick to create life-changing experiences for people in need around the world. He used a 3D-printer to create inexpensive prosthetics for injured children in Sudan. He created glasses that allowed a paraplegic to create art. His list of accomplishments for both mankind and for individuals in need is truly inspirational. It’s safe to say there was a whole ballroom full of awe-struck staffing professionals by the time Mick left the stage.

People 2.0 applauds the extraordinary effort ASA put into finding speakers that were as inspiring and motivating as they were entertaining. Staffing World 2017 was a huge success and a great learning, networking and development experience for all involved. Visit our events page to see where People 2.0 will be next.