Kelly, headquartered in Troy, was named the No. 2 best professional recruiting and temporary staffing firm in America by Forbes magazine and Statista Inc.

Kelly, headquartered in Troy, was named the No. 2 best professional recruiting and temporary staffing firm in America by Forbes magazine and Statista Inc.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

Staffing/recruitment firm discusses national, local employment scene

‘We have so much client demand right in front of us right now’

By: Jonathan Shead | Troy Times | Published May 25, 2021


TROY — To put it simply, business has been anything but usual for business owners this past year as some worked tirelessly to survive the pandemic. Unemployment rates spiked above 19% during the early stages of the pandemic, and employees lost work and felt similar pains.

One local corporation, however, has been leading the industry in helping employees and employers get back on track during the pandemic. Kelly was named and awarded the No. 2 best professional recruiting firm and No. 2 best temporary staffing firm of 2021 in America by Forbes and Statista Inc., respectively.

The rankings came from a survey of more than 50,000 people from across companies that had 1,000 or more employees. “It was a really big pool who were surveyed, and the final list ranks the top 500 employers,” Kelly Vice President and North Market Lead Jack Van Tiem said. “To be No. 2 out of that is extremely special. We came out of last year stronger than we went in.”

The accolades didn’t come without some hard work and innovation as a response to the pandemic though. “We’re actually starting to exceed 2019 demand. We’re already well over 2020 demand year over year, but we’re now exceeding 2019, which was a pretty big year,” Van Tiem said, adding that the number of workers displaced from the workforce jumped by 5 million people, to over 100 million people, last year.

“It still shows there’s more people out (of work) still today than there was 12 months ago. It’s an ongoing problem that doesn’t necessarily get better in the short term,” he added.

The problem has only been exacerbated by other issues, Troy Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tara Tomcsik-Husak said.

“Some of it is based on revenue. People are making more money staying home than actually working. The other has to deal with the stressors of COVID. We are very well aware this is a pandemic, so people are nervous to come back to work, for sure. Also, a lot of it falls with child care. As a lot of students had to stay home, parents had to stay home as well. There’s a varying scale, but we’re just hopeful to see a progression moving forward.”

Despite the challenges COVID-19 has brought with it, Van Tiem also attributed the company’s success and ability to help employees and employers to a July 2020 overhaul that saw the company begin to focus on being a specialty talent provider, matching industry-specific workers with the companies that needed them, and because of the pilot remote work program they began with their workers prior to the pandemic.

“I think the game changer for us was that we’re a pioneer in remote work, and our IT infrastructure allows us to seamlessly adjust to what happened when we shut down all of our offices practically overnight,” Van Tiem added. “When we had to shut down branches and send everyone home, we barely skipped a beat.”

Tomcsik-Husak said part of their continued success, in her perspective, comes from how much they invest into employers and employees.

“Kelly Services has been a wonderful member for us for years. One thing that’s wonderful about them is that they really do put in the initiative and put in the time. They listen to the needs of their clients and they do everything in their power to help our businesses succeed. They’re definitely a team player, and a wonderful company to work with,” she said.


A slow recovery
The state’s vaccination efforts have progressed exponentially, with state guidance on indoor capacities and facial covering requirements set to soon expire, but still Van Tiem and Tomcsik-Husak believe economic recovery for some businesses and workers might not be fully realized until next year.

“Certainly, the food and beverage, and entertainment sectors have been hit incredibly hard and still have not recovered yet. Automotive leads the way back. It got hit pretty hard last year with plant shutdowns when what was going on with COVID-19 hadn’t really been responded to yet with all the PPE and precautions that needed to be taken, but we saw toward the late second quarter, beginning of the third quarter, automotive (companies) started rebounding pretty strongly.”

A decreased positive case rate coinciding with reduced rules around COVID-19 safety precautions may make workers currently out of work more or less eager to rejoin the labor force, Tomcsik-Husak thinks.

“Personally, I think it goes both ways. I think you’ll see some people who are more excited understanding that the numbers are down and they’re ready to come back to work because they feel safer. Then you’re going to have others who are still just not ready,” she said.

“What I am happy to see is that even with the mask mandates being lifted, we’re getting a little bit closer to normal, but those who are still uncomfortable have the right to wear their mask. I enjoy the fact that people are promoting the fact that people are welcome to feel safe, and make sure they can wear their mask, and there’s no shaming involved in that as well.”

The Chamber of Commerce posts local job listings on its website,

Van Tiem doesn’t have a crystal ball to tell the future, but he hopes employees will begin to feel more comfortable rejoining the workforce. He believes that depends on access to school or child care, as well as people’s individual comfort with the state’s case count.

“We’re fighting this battle every single day. We provide people with work in ways that enriches their lives, and we have so much client demand right in front of us right now. That’s what we’re trying to take care of. We hope that with vaccine percentages going up, people (will) feel more comfortable going back into the workforce. When schools go back full time, people don’t have to provide care for their kids at home,” he said. “That right there, hopefully, is a nice double punch of some people getting back into the workforce. That tells you we may have, from a talent supply perspective, a good third and fourth quarter this year. That’s certainly what all of us are hoping for.”

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