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Navigating the Search for Talent During COVID-19

Talent During COVID-19


REDI Cincinnati’s Talent Director, Adam Jones, had an opportunity to speak with BelFlex Staffing Network’s COO, Bob Baer, on how BelFlex is supporting regional companies in the talent search, in a pandemic world. This 5-minute Q&A highlights BelFlex’s commitment to creativity, talent, and innovation in the Cincinnati region.

  • BelFlex has been an incredible partner in sourcing talent for the Cincinnati region. Can you tell us how BelFlex Staffing Network came to be?

    Bob Baer: BelFlex is a third-generation family-owned business – we are owned by the McCaw family. The business was started in the ’50s and had multiple divisions. In 2014 as our light industrial and commercial business was growing, we rebranded the group to be called, “BelFlex Staffing Network.” Our CEO, Jason McCaw, has a passion for people and a passion for putting people to work. BelFlex believes in community-driven support and we have a big community outreach arm to our business (such as LIFT (Logistics, Inventory Management, Facilities Management and Transportation) The TriState in the Cincinnati region). We currently have 30 branches in 10 states, mostly in the Midwest, South, and Southeast. We have 130 internal employees, pay 3,500 to 5,000 people a week based on the year, and do business with upwards of 1,000 customers across the country.

  • Can you tell us more about how BelFlex Staffing Network supports REDI Cincinnati and the region?

    Bob Baer: I think the thing that we pride ourselves in is, there doesn’t always have to be something in it for us to give our time, energy, and resources. We appreciate getting calls from REDI Cincinnati to speak via phone or in-person with site selectors or prospect companies that are looking into the region. We enjoy the opportunity to highlight what the Cincinnati region’s talent pipeline looks like and how BelFlex does things differently from its competition to drive talent in. We are here to connect people with job opportunities – and sometimes that means we partner with businesses on their talent needs – other times it is a conversation that adds to our regional network of business relationships.

  • Have you witnessed any shifts in recruitment practices and/or emerging workforce trends during COVID-19? What would you say businesses should be aware of when hiring right now?

    Bob Baer: In 26 years, this has been the toughest time to find talent. If you take a step back, before COVID-19, we were running at basically 0% unemployment. Then COVID-19 hit and companies started to realize they have to do something different. The companies that have gotten creative and listened to their partners are the ones that are being successful in driving people to their facilities to keep them running. The companies that have always tried to do business status-quo are struggling. Right now, the focus isn’t necessarily on compensation like it used to be, the focus is on safety – what are you doing to protect your employees. We want people to be comfortable at work. We are tied into industry surveys and we know that this fear of safety has been highlighted in those surveys. People want to know that when they go into a 400- to- 500- person facility that they are going to be safe. Employees don’t want just a temperature taken at the door, they want safety protocols threaded into all aspects of their work. Companies that are taking safety seriously we’ve highlighted and showcased. One lesson we’ve learned has been to advertise safety protocols along with job postings. We recommend showing the protocols visually, taking pictures of workspaces, showing the community, even through social, what your company is doing to take employee health and safety seriously.

  • How has BelFlex innovated to effectively continue serving companies during COVID-19?

    Bob Baer: Recently, we’ve done drive-thru job fairs and have had a lot of success. We had 30 cars lined up before the gate even opened. It was a way to keep people safe. We continuously scheduled people, which allowed us to manage how many were in and out of the office. We’ve also rented hotel conference rooms to keep everyone spaced out. We did all the prescreening at the hotel and sent qualified candidates to the business facility down the road where they were spaced out and scheduled to tour the building and be interviewed. It allowed us to never overwhelm the business or the candidates and keep everyone distanced. It’s honestly just trying to think differently. I wish I could take the credit but it has been everyone on our incredible team thinking creatively that has kept us on our toes and allowed us to innovate.

  • We’ve heard that you’ve been named on Forbes' list of America's Best Temporary Staffing Firms in 2020 – with a five star rating, no less. Can you tell us more about this list and your ranking?

    Bob Baer: Truthfully, Forbes kept this ranking quiet – we truly didn’t know anything about it until the day before the article went live. Out of the 138 agencies Forbes selected (from the 10,000 they had reviewed), we were one of the 69 that had received a five-star rating. It was the first time Forbes has done this ranking. It was humbling for our team. In this business, you know that you can’t please everyone. But, we truly believe that it is the clients (that are open-minded) that allow us to work with them and take creative ideas and put them into action that drives our success. That could be a two-person size customer or 2,000-person size customer, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the consistency of work. At the end of the day, that is what makes a brand – replicating good work, consistently.

    This award was a morale boost for the team. I am thankful for our internal heroes that are hard at work to keep the supply chain of America moving during COVID-19.

  • Can you share (or recap) the top four best practices companies should be focusing on regarding recruitment during COVID-19?

    Bob Baer: Number one, creativity. Number two, think outside of your walls. We are all guilty of knowing what is right in front of us, our immediate challenges – but we don’t always think outside of our walls, what our competitors or others in the industry might be doing. The third is safety – COVID-19 or not. Cleanliness, OSHA practices, safety protocols are all crucial. Don’t just do it, educate the team on what you are doing internally for safety measures. Number four is communication. I don’t think you can over-communicate. People get busy. It is important to make sure that you are communicating to everyone, at every level of your organization.


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