JSA is a 30-year-old business. We’ve been through highs and lows with our customers, have been impacted by legislative change, market crashes and other forces beyond our control. Whilst Coronavirus is unprecedented, our strategy through difficult times has always been to draw on our depth of experience, our breadth of knowledge and our outstanding people to do our job and help our customers navigate the complexity. This time has been no different.
Whilst our business development and account management teams have remained active, their role has been very much focused on customer support. “Do whatever you can to help your customers” has been the message to the team. By remaining available by phone, email and Zoom, we have been on hand to advise agency partners on their handling of this difficult situation and have sought always to play our part in helping them to weather this storm.
The same approach has been taken with our contractor accountancy team. PSC contractors whose roles have been affected by Coronavirus have needed help and guidance to manage their companies and plan their next moves. Again, by remaining open 6 days a week and keeping the phone lines open and answered just as quickly as if our teams were in the office, we hope to have helped to alleviate some of the difficulty.
That’s not to say we’ve had all the answers straight away. The challenge over whether and how much we could pay furloughed umbrella employees via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has, to be frank, kept us awake at night. We know it’s been frustrating for our agency partners and our contractors, but as soon as we had confirmation that many of our umbrella employees were eligible, our payments team got to work, processing payments at full average pay levels as quickly as possible, whilst dealing with the significant amount of behind-the-scenes complexity that entails. We appreciate it’s been a particularly nerve-wracking time for agencies that run an in-house payroll for umbrella contractors, no doubt this crisis will prompt some to consider outsourcing this vital function in future.
Fortunately, JSA is a well-funded, stable company so we have been able to absorb the costs of things like the Apprenticeship Levy which are not refundable via the government scheme, as well as maintain the significant cost of paying our staff and managing our operations: costs which are not recoverable to us. This stability has benefited our customers more than ever under current circumstances, and we plan to keep it that way.
Our stability is underpinned by a long-term focus on business resilience which has paid dividends through this crisis. Our investment in cloud-based telephony and technology has meant we could support the rapid deployment of home working for a majority of our staff. Staff have been able to access all of our systems, securely, from home. This has meant:
- our team of advisors has had ready access to our CRM, enabling them to quickly and easily retrieve customer records and information to be able to resolve queries just as effectively as if they were in the office.
- our payments team could process thousands of timesheets each week, as usual, with just a few team members needing to come into the offices.
- our phone lines have been open as usual, with call answering times unaffected by our team’s work from home arrangements.
It’s not been easy, and it’s not been perfect, but given the circumstances, I have to say I’m extremely proud of the way our teams have worked together and with our customers to manage and overcome the various obstacles.
Whilst lockdown measures begin to ease, there are new challenges ahead for all of us. Without a doubt, our agency partners need to adapt and it will be important for us to flex our approach and join them on that journey with new and innovative solutions. Our contractor community will need to assess the impact and the future, and we will be there to guide and support, just as we always have been.
Our message is clear: if you need us, we’re here.