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Employbridge Optimas Award Winner for Financial Impact

September 7, 2011
Related Topics: Financial Impact, Training Technology, Career Development, Employee Career Development, Recruitment, Staffing Management
When times get tough, many companies respond by trimming costs. The drill is quite predictable, beginning with the suspension of training programs, followed by a reduction in benefits and, ultimately, the dreaded layoffs.

   Not so in the case of EmployBridge, a national provider of temporary staffers. After its revenue declined by $45 million in 2001, the Atlanta-based firm took a bold measure that would send most executives running for the hills: It poured money into the business, investing half a million dollars in an aggressive training program.

   The thrust of the plan was to transform the company’s sales and operational field staff from generalists into industry specialists. At about the time the program started in 2002, EmployBridge had 678 regular sales and support staff members as well as 15,773 operational field workers. The company had hit a rough patch, to say the least. Not only was it coping with a recent change in ownership, but it also was battling an economic recession.

   To make matters worse, following the September 11 terrorist attacks business dried up 15 percent overnight. There was simply no demand for temporary workers, CEO and president Tom Bickes recalls. In response, EmployBridge created training workshops tailored to specific fields, such as manufacturing and accounting.

   The objective was to enhance workers’ knowledge in a particular industry in order to create certified experts who could ultimately provide specialized services to clients, Bickes says. Much of the company’s efforts were aimed at its sales staff. Training them was crucial because they would be the ones transmitting the company’s new strategic practice of offering industry-specialized services. This segment of the workforce received a battery of workshops, webinars and monthly reinforcement conference calls.

   Four years and more than $2 million in training expenses later, EmployBridge is reaping the fruits of its labors. In 2004, revenue rose 20 percent to $342 million. By contrast, average revenue growth for the industry was 7 percent during the same period. The company also leads its peers in profitability, which hit 4.2 percent in 2004, more than double the industry average.

   Bickes attributes the company’s strong performance to its ability to charge higher prices for its services, which is made possible by having an industry-specific workforce. But perhaps the strongest testament to the program’s success is the 63 percent increase in per capita productivity that took place between 2001 and 2004. During this short time, the company was able to bolster business revenue by $55 million using 25 percent fewer salespeople.

   This achievement, Bickes suspects, was driven purely by employee knowledge since no new technology was adopted during the time period.

   The program has had other positive effects. Turnover dropped by 71 percent within the first six months of its inception, and EmployBridge now enjoys some of the highest retention rates in the industry. Employee satisfaction rates also are high. In a recent survey, 97 percent of participants said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied with the company.

   "There is no better way to get your workforce passionate about your business strategy than to invest in them during tough times," Bickes says.

   For the success of its investment in its workforce, EmployBridge is the winner of the 2006 Optimas Award for Financial Impact.

The Atlanta-based company was founded in 2000, when a handful of managers for a company called Career Blazers worked with a financial equity partner to raise the capital to acquire the 140 location, $287 million staffing segment that was then named EmployBridge. The company now has 750 regular employees and a batallion of 60,000 temporary staffers.
EmployBridge is one of the largest providers of temporary staffing in the country, offering specialized services in such fields as administration, accounting and manufacturing. Last year, the company’s revenue totaled $400 million. EmployBridge has 145 offices across the U.S. and services 23 states. Some of its core brands are ProLogistix and ProDrivers.

Workforce Management, March 13, 2006, p. 20 -- Subscribe Now!

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