Guiding the way forward

Adapting to the dynamic needs of their clients and employees, Express Employment Professionals relies on relationships and trust to set a path through the disruption  

BY NOW, YOU know the story — Covid-19 hit the economy like a truck, shuttering all but essential businesses, drying up revenue streams and leaving millions of workers without jobs or incomes.

What was a staffing agency — a business built around filling the labour holes as they come up — to do when those holes were… everywhere?

“I was worried,” says Mike Elliott, who along with Christine Menard,  operates London’s Express Employment Professionals franchise. Locally, the staffing agency normally has between 200 and 300 employees placed in a wide array of jobs. Then came Covid, and while many of their competitors were dialing back or in some cases closing shop altogether, Express leaned into a sell, sell, sell mindset.

“We went on the offensive and started calling all of the essential businesses, offering up our dormant workforce to help them through this time of need,” explains Elliott.

If you had asked him on March 16, Elliott might have told you that he expected to be able to keep around 50 or 60 workers employed. “I was worried,” he admits. Instead, that number has nearly tripled, with 140 workers set up with jobs. And good jobs, too: none of their jobs are minimum wage, most offer full-time hour and many might stand to be hired on afterwards, something Express are vocal advocates for.

Guiding the way forward Content StudioPhoto: Express Employment Professionals of London co-owners Mike Elliott and Christine Menard receive the 2020 International Leadership Conference Circle of Excellence Award presented to the network’s top global franchisees. With them are Express founders Bob Funk (far left) and Bill Stoller (far right)

Many of those workers went to work at jobs suddenly infused with urgency and social importance — making hospital beds or working to make protective equipment. Others filled in jobs at distilleries or in cannabis growing facilities — a different kind of essential, for everyone sheltering at home.

“None of it is traditional,” Elliott says. “We saw the immediate need to support essential businesses and companies that suddenly had increased demand.”

Part of it chalks up to experience. Elliott is just one of hundreds of franchisees globally and benefitted from being part of the greater Express Employment Professionals network. The firm has seen economic downturns before and knew it could play a role in keeping people safe and employed.

When he thinks about all the workers Express has paired with jobs, Elliott also thinks about the other people that impacts ― children, partners and families. “It allows those family members to maintain health benefits, or maybe provide some programming for their kids.

Guiding the way forward Content StudioFor multiple years, Express Employment Professionals of London has been presented with the Top 50 Sales Team award for outstanding performance in a network of more than 850 franchises globally

“A lot of people stepped up and did jobs they wouldn’t have considered pre-virus,” Elliott continues. “We put a lot of people out in cleaning positions and offered workers to hospitals and nursing homes. Doing that social good is what has made workers feel good about their contribution during this period. It’s one of the things we do really well at Express.”

And it is a responsibility Express did not take lightly. Sending workers into high-risk workplaces means trusting the workers you are sending out and trusting the employers hiring them — and getting employers to trust them in return. And just like other businesses, Express had to adapt to a changing way of doing business, pivoting towards telephone screenings for workers and protective installations for anyone who came into their office, which was able to remain open on the commitments staff made to each other to follow distancing guidelines.

“It’s about reputation and it’s about protecting the London market,” Elliott says. “We have a community commitment; London doesn’t want to be a hotbed for infections.”

In the end, it’s doing what Express has always done — linking people with jobs, building relationships that are about more than just temporary work and earning trust for their workforce — that they were able to keep people employed, even as the economy ground to a halt. And now, as that economy begins reopening, Express is ideally positioned to play an important part in the rebuilding process.

“We can’t afford to mess this up,” Elliott says. “And that means we’ve got to earn the right to demonstrate that we can be responsible.”

For more information on employment and job placement services from Express Employment Professionals of London, click here.

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