Sandy Beckwith, CHRO, ABR Employment Services
Years in staffing: 8 years
Fun fact: Always ready to embrace a new challenge, Sandy met her match when she connected with ABR Employment Services after a 25 year career in human resources. It represented many firsts for her: working in the staffing industry, supporting a nationwide team and leading HR for two companies simultaneously (ABR Employment Services and their non-profit parent company, Forward Service Corporation). That was eight years ago and she hasn’t looked back!
I’m always impressed by the diversity of roles in staffing that are elevating the industry overall. Sandy is the first CHRO that I’ve had the opportunity to interview for our #womenINstaffing series and based on her insights and efforts at ABR, I’m excited to see what other CHROs are doing to make an impact too!
What do you wish you would have learned earlier in your career?
Take more chances. I’m in HR, so I like to follow policies and procedures! But I know it’s important to be creative and innovative, and take chances to get unique and outstanding results. At the start of my career, I followed every rule and accepted the status quo. I slowly tried more things and brought more ideas to the table as I gained more experience. I was fortunate to have great leaders to support me. Not every idea was great, but my supervisors were supportive. I now try to empower my team and encourage them to provide captivating ideas so we can keep learning and obtain rewarding outcomes. Even if the end result doesn’t turn out the way you wanted to, you can learn something new on the journey.
What’s the best advice you’ve received recently?
Early on in leadership, I always wanted to solve everyone’s issues and concerns for them. Somebody said to me, “Let your team figure it out. That’s how they’re going to grow. Ask: What do you think we should do?” After embracing this advice, I’d sometimes get a surprised look but then my team start growing and flourishing with this empowerment. It’s extremely gratifying to see your team thrive.
What does it take to be a great staffing leader?
Resilience. In staffing we get told no often. Every day and every week we have setbacks. With every setback, we have to march forward with persistence and fortitude because we’re going to have a lot of great successes. The industry is changing so quickly, you need to be adaptable, especially with ACA and shrinking applicant pools. Getting in ruts and wanting to stay tied to the way we used to do things isn’t going to lead to success. You need to be innovative to differentiate in this space and you have to live by your brand.
What impact can HR have in the staffing industry?
HR has a very large role in the staffing industry. For instance, with the shrinking applicant pool, I work with our recruiters to develop talent attraction strategies. We also have a lot of millennials working for us and it’s important to understand the changing workforce and how we staff our own company to be successful. From a compliance standpoint, the branches call whenever they have questions to guide them on how to handle certain situations. Having a strong human resources team also helps you decrease your risk and liabilities. At ABR, human resources is built into our strategic plan which has enabled us to implement both a succession planning initiative and a branch manager training program. We have five people who are in our training program now, and once they are ready we’ll have a bench of five branch managers which we’ve never had before. We also started an internship program which is another way to fill our pipeline so as we grow. It also helps our staff to have some vacation time as we have extra help in our offices. It’s a win-win to give more balance to our employees while the paid interns gain experience. I also work with our operations team to determine processes for training and safety, as well as recognition and wellness programs for overall retention and satisfaction. To be the employer of choice, you need a strong human resources department to be driving and tracking the KPIs to ensure your efforts are successful.
Are you an industry veteran that’s excited to share your lessons with the next generation of staffing leaders? Share your insights as part of this #womenINstaffing Wednesday series. Contact me to learn more.
Confused on the hashtag (#) in the title of this series? Let me know if you’d like to join a virtual roundtable with a few other female staffing execs to discuss the power of Twitter to build your personal brand.