No one could have anticipated or fully prepared for the past year in any industry. In staffing, as in many other industries, organizations transformed swiftly to meet wildly changing market demands. Thankfully, we’re seeing an end to such unpredictable market conditions and the possibility of a post-pandemic economy in the near future. The National Association of Business Economists recently updated their estimates for a bullish 6.7% GDP growth in 2021, with a forecast for employment to return to pre-pandemic levels by early 2022.
As we look to this recovery, staffing firms will be on the frontline, helping find skilled talent and labor and matching them with the right jobs in a changed world of work. With those shifts in mind, here are the top trends we are seeing now that will have a significant impact on the growth and evolution of our industry.
Workforce automation and AI will continue to expand throughout staffing and recruiting. Leveraging automation to reduce the administrative burden on recruiters, allowing them to focus on revenue generation, has been a priority for many years. There are a number of good providers in the market that offer single-point solutions to tackle various stages of the administrative/communication process. Now, however, we’re beginning to see an evolution from these single-point solutions to all-encompassing platforms that fully integrate with an organization’s core systems. This makes it possible for end users to manage and access applications and technologies that enhance and streamline processes, all from one centralized location instead of having to switch from application to application.
AI is a term that is thrown around often. People used to visualize it as a bot that popped up on a website to ask how it could help. However, today’s AI is increasingly offering a path for a more hands-off, candidate-centric process that ultimately creates excellent candidate and client experiences. It doesn’t replace recruiters but instead ensures that their interactions with candidates are meaningful and timely, meeting the candidates where they are. AI-enabled bots leverage natural language processing (NLP) to assist in moving candidates through more touch points to effectively route them to the appropriate recruiter. These bots can take candidates seamlessly into third-party apps to complete skills assessments and video interviews and to schedule live interviews via calendar apps. AI helps drive a seamless and very positive candidate and client experience by eliminating the black hole and moving conversations to next steps, facilitating faster time to hire and providing a direct impact to the bottom line.
AI also offers a direct path to a more streamlined process for those candidates who are less interested in building a relationship with the recruiter and more interested in the job opportunities. Progressive staffing firms are using AI to give candidates the option of moving through much of the recruiting process in an automated manner and introducing recruiter interaction at strategic points in the process where it is needed. The point is to provide the candidate a continuous journey and for AI to present and facilitate what is needed at the right place and time.
Remote work and hybrid models are having a major impact on staffing and recruiting. The shift to remote and hybrid work models is here to stay. It’s changing the game and opening up opportunities for employers and candidates. The old mentality — “If you’re not at your desk, you’re not working” — has shifted drastically.
New opportunities are abundant. In the past, typically only IT professionals could work remotely on a large scale. Now, however, roles in accounting, finance, marketing, and customer service are increasingly open to remote work outside of gig platforms because of the tech transformation traditional organizations have undergone over the past year. With new flexibility in terms of where they are able to live, talent — especially the top 10-20% of talent — can work for organizations that previously would have been off the radar geographically. This means that staffing firms can reach out to candidates they never would have before in expanded geographies and demographics, which is incredibly valuable, as it exponentially expands talent pools. However, it also means staffing firms must be savvier with sourcing and recruiting resources and the ways in which they attract and interact with their talent community.
For roles that require employees to be physically present to work, such as light industrial, skilled trades, hospitality and food service, we’re seeing the war for talent reaching new heights. For example, organizations increasingly are offering skilled trade workers additional benefits, upskilling opportunities and in some cases even relocation assistance, something that was practically unheard of even a year ago.
The need for talent is real and the winners will be the ones who are able to best marry people, processes and technology to provide experiences that translate into satisfaction for candidates and clients.