On October 25-27, I had the pleasure of attending the American Staffing Association (ASA) annual Staffing World Conference for the first time. For any of you who were fortunate enough to participate in Staffing World 2022, I do not need to explain how extraordinary the conference was. When the opportunity to attend on behalf of our law firm, Taylor English, arose, I, along with my colleagues, Bob Goldberg and Robbin Wilder, jumped at the opportunity to participate. It was an easy call on our part. With the significant staffing law experience and expertise inside the firm, the number of staffing clients we currently represent, and our respect for the ASA in the staffing law area, we welcomed the opportunity to visit ASA staff members and to see and spend some time with clients as well as to meet others within the staffing industry.
With all that said, as a first-time attendee, I do not believe I could have been fully prepared for what I was about to experience. To add a bit of perspective to the comments that follow (and as I mentioned to Bob and Robbin and a number of others inside and outside our firm), I have attended countless conferences over the years, across industries and disciplines. As a conference veteran, I can say without hesitation that Staffing World 2022 was hands down the best conference I have ever experienced.
All that starts, in my opinion, with the board, officers, and employees of the American Staffing Association, who worked together throughout the year with internal and external resources to bring together a broad array of excellent content and resource providers. From supplier subject matter experts to staffing industry representatives to motivational speakers from outside the industry, all bases were covered. I am most grateful and send sincere thanks to all those who helped put Staffing World 2022 together from the ASA board to Richard Wahlquist, the senior management team, and the employees of the ASA. My appreciation goes out as well as to the hotel staff, the conference sponsors, and the professional service providers, who helped make the conference such a success.
This year, Staffing World began with heartfelt and much deserved recognition of the leadership hall of famers and the volunteer of the year. That was followed by a phenomenal keynote address titled “Building World-Class Teams and the ‘Magic’ of Winning” from none other than Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Magic not only talks the talk, but he also walks the walk. His successes are many--from world class professional basketball player, to owner and operator of a large business conglomerate, Magic Johnson Enterprises, to sports franchise owner. His hard work, thirst of knowledge, team building and leadership, along with “heaping helpings” of charisma and passion, have all contributed to who he is and the successes he has enjoyed. In addition to his many personal achievements, he is also a big believer in giving back not just through generous financial philanthropy, but also giving personally of his time. As we walked out of the meeting room that night, I heard so many attendees lauding Magic and the message he delivered through his words, but also through the life he lives daily. Of course, we did have a wonderful venue to continue these conversations at the Expo Reception, an “80s rewind.” What a fabulous Day 1!
Speaking of the Expo, throughout the conference, there were so many exhibitions in 40+ product and service categories. The exhibitors covered the waterfront of products and services needed by staffing, from accounting to insurance to payroll to workers comp and everything in between. The booths were well staffed with friendly and knowledgeable professionals and well supplied with take home goodies.
The Expo Hall also included informative microlearning presentations, referred to as Speed Talks and Tech Talks, in the Knowledge Hub
In the main Conference Hall, the Staffing World sessions continued on October 26 with the annual membership meeting, the presentation of 2023 National Staffing Employee of the Year Award and a frank and informative “straight talk” panel discussion among staffing industry CEOs from Insight Global, Randstad North America, and EmployBridge, facilitated by Richard Wahlquist. On the final day there was a special session highlighting inspirational staffing stories followed by a very interesting speed networking session that brought many of us together for at least a few minutes with others we likely would not have had a chance to meet.
In addition, on each of the final two days of the conference, a series of breakout sessions were held, including one I loved called ASA Cares. For the first ASA Cares, each of us was encouraged to volunteer time to help fill care packages for homeless youth in need. The “give back” theme of ASA Cares continued on the final day of the conference with Pawvana. As the name implies, we were given an opportunity to spend some quality time with our four-legged friends and to contribute money to help make certain as many as possible are able to be adopted into loving homes.
Other breakout sessions included discussions of extremely timely topics including among others: recruitment, culture, hybrid work, M&A outlook, minimizing costs and maximizing care in workers’ comp claims, and navigating remote work. On that last topic, best practices in navigating remote work, our Taylor English colleague, Robbin Wilder, led an insightful and effective remote work discussion, and provided on-point responses to a number of audience questions.
On the final day, I had the opportunity to attend an early morning ASA Legal and legislative Committee Breakfast. I was among three outside counsel asked to provide updates to the committee. I spoke about trends in background check cases, focusing on the recent Eighth Circuit case, Schumacher v. SC Data Center, Inc.
The meeting closed out with the presentation of the ASA Elevate Awards and a powerful and fitting keynote message from Val Vigoda calling us to overcome fear with optimism, resilience, and courage.
As I departed my first ASA Staffing World, I was already looking forward to Staffing World 2023 in Charlotte, NC. I hope as many of you as possible will make your plans to join me there next year because while this was my first Staffing World, it will not be my last.