Repurposing Employees during the Recession for Success

Here’s an article one of my colleagues, Priyanka Lakhe, wrote on her experience in combating the recession. Priyanka is a senior resource at iPlace and is a terrific passive sourcer. – It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. By most accounts this recession is the worst since the 1930s. Major corporations have filed for bankruptcy and there are layoffs everywhere. Experts estimate that in the last quarter of this year the economy will turn around. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen. But I’m optimistic because things can’t get any worse! In such an environment you can either chose to succumb to the situation or face it head-on. My company chose the latter and I would like to share this success story with the whole world — and especially CEOs of other companies.

My company, iPlace, is an offshore recruiting company that offers sourcing and recruiting services to US staffing agencies and corporate recruiting departments. In December 2007, we estimated that before the end of 2009 we would fill up our current 100 seat, 3-story facility and move to a bigger place. I was dreaming of having my own cubicle in an up-market, posh office. But the economic downturn in the US badly affected our business. Our sourcers and recruiters assist senior recruiters and account managers of American staffing companies by doing the time-consuming work of finding candidates using Internet-based tools and conducting screening interviews. Our work saves senior American recruiters and account managers a lot of time and allows them to focus on higher touch, higher value tasks such as strategizing, building rapport with candidates and clients, expanding their network, etc. However with the reduction of workload caused by the recession, staffing companies did not need assistance. Some of our clients were firing their own recruiters and they did not have enough job orders to sustain iPlace. So we had to part ways with several clients even though they were very happy with the quality of our work. They left us with a promise to come back once the market was better. The worst hit was our day-shift sourcing team as our clients’ recruiters had ample time to do Internet-based sourcing themselves. What would you have done if you were in the CEO of iPlace? Lay off employees? Cut employee benefits? Freeze pay? Well we did not experience any of it. Why? Because our CEO reasoned, “our employees have worked hard throughout the year and the recession is not their fault” and “we have the best employees in the entire world.” Most of our sourcers and recruiters have completed a year and are highly skilled. If we fire such experienced and highly trained staff now, we will be the losers tomorrow as these people would go to our competitors.

My team started brainstorming on ideas to generate revenues from the sourcing team and our CEO asked our clients for ideas. One client told our CEO that because of the recession many of their recruiters were left with virtually no work and that the top priority of the company was getting new clients. It then occurred to us that we could reposition our sourcers to find our client contact and background information for hiring mangers using virtually the same sourcing techniques we used to find candidates for job orders. The client loved this idea and we started receiving sales lead requests from one of the client’s senior account managers. The senior account manager asked us to find decision-makers and hiring managers from a few companies in his region. Our first assignment was challenging since this was the very first time we were doing this kind of work. However, the account manager was very pleased and the word spread virally across the client’s other offices. Before we knew it, we were working with seventeen account managers. Our requests varied from finding hiring managers from IT companies, building a list of medical factoring companies, finding organization charts to gathering financial market data and future business directions of some companies. Some of the account managers were very helpful as they gave us feedback and suggestions to improve. This eventually helped us in defining a robust sales leads generation process. After a couple of months, we contacted the seventeen account managers and conducted a survey on the sales lead generation service. We received an overwhelming response. Most of them liked that we provided validated numbers and e-mail addresses along with related web links for each contact. Now my team is confident that we can handle any type of sourcing request. We strongly believe in our sourcing capabilities and our motto is: “We can find anything and everything on the Internet!!”

While we were developing the sales leads generation process, my colleague Viji and I had an idea to offer the sales lead generation service to prospective clients. This idea was approved and our team has started promoting it through e-mail campaigns. This idea has generated a lot of interest. We have now expanded our sales lead generation service to UK and Canada clients. This is the best part of working for iPlace. The company thinks of its employees as business partners. We are free to voice our opinions and come up with ideas which will generate revenue for iPlace. I am happy to be a part of such a company that believes in innovation and that cares for its employees. I think that companies that lay-off employees and start cost-cutting should think twice. I’m sure they can think of alternative ways to utilize their experienced staff and to earn additional revenues.

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