The State of North American Staffing: 2019
What will 2019 hold for the global staffing industry? More than 2,000 industry professionals worldwide weighed in with their thoughts on the top priorities, challenges, and issues that will be top of mind in the coming year. Here’s a look at what 1,168 North American staffing leaders had to say.
Staffing Industry Outlook
Optimism runs high in the staffing industry. Expectations for revenue, budgets, investments, and placements in 2019 are all higher than they were heading into 2018.
How do you expect revenue to change in 2019?
Most respondents anticipate an increase in 2019 revenue versus 2018. Just 1 percent of respondents expect to see revenue decrease in the year ahead.
Staffing professionals say they expect to see temporary placements increase in 2019. Also on the rise? Operating budgets, investments in technology, efforts to increase workers’ skills through education and training, and the percentage of business done through VMS.
How do you expect the following to change in 2019?
Less than 3 percent of respondents expect to see decreases in temp placements, budgets, tech spending, efforts to reskill workers, and VMS business.
Staffing leaders have options when it comes to growing their business: expand their agency’s footprint by doing more business with new and current customers; grow quickly by acquiring new companies; or exit their business by being acquired by another company. Here’s how most respondents say they’re thinking about strategic growth in 2019.
What’s your business’ primary growth strategy?
Organic growth is the industry’s primary growth strategy in 2019. Only 9 percent say they expect to grow by acquiring new companies and even fewer (1 percent) expect to be acquired.
Top Priorities for Staffing Professionals
Aside from the obvious—driving top-line revenue growth and increasing profitability—respondents say they’ll be firmly focused on candidates in 2019. Other priorities on which they’ll focus? Embracing digital transformation to improve their operations, developing their employment brand and enhancing their marketing strategies, and working on how they manage relationships with clients.
What are your top priorities for 2019?
Candidates will matter most in 2019, with sourcing (62 percent) and candidate engagement (37 percent) leading the pack. Beyond candidates, take a look at some other notable priorities.
Top Challenges for Staffing Professionals
While optimism abounds, the outlook’s not all rosy. From hiring and operational challenges to the issues macroeconomic and political shifts present, there are plenty of tricky problems recruitment industry pros will have to tackle in 2019.
What are your top hiring challenges for 2019?
Beyond the perennial skills shortage, staffing leaders grapple with how to get employers to increase candidate pay rates and how to mitigate attrition and turnover caused by a booming job market.
What are your top operational challenges for 2019?
Pricing pressure and margin compression once again rank as the top operational challenge staffing professionals say they’ll face in 2019. Other top challenges include embracing digital transformation and increased competitions from online talent platforms.
What are your top macroeconomic and political challenges for 2019?
If you’re feeling a bit skittish when it comes to future growth amidst an uncertain economy, you’re not alone. But the job market’s healthy and unemployment rates reflect that, which explains why many respondents say low unemployment is also a top challenge for the year ahead.
Many parts of the staffing and recruiting lifecycle can be tough to manage. From sourcing and screening to interviewing and onboarding, recruiters frequently feel the pain of these processes.
Which part of the recruitment lifecycle is most challenging?
Respondents say sourcing, gathering requirements from clients, and screening and validation are the trickiest parts of the staffing and recruiting lifecycle.
Technology has transformed how people connect and communicate with each other. Gone are the days when recruiters could simply pick up a phone and reach a candidate. Today, they must embrace generational differences when it comes to communication vehicles and cadence and adjust their strategies accordingly to stand out in the eyes of candidates.
Talkin’ ‘bout my generation
Recruiters say Millennials are the most difficult generation to reach and engage followed by Gen X. The easiest generation to reach and engage? Interestingly, North American recruiters say it’s a tie between Baby Boomers and Post-Millenials (Gen Z).
For years, we’ve been hearing about talent shortages and how they’re a top challenge for the industry. In many sectors, it seems like there simply aren’t enough qualified people with the right skills to fill many modern job openings. But just how troublesome are talent shortages? Are they getting any better or worse?
For better or worse?
When asked if they think skills shortages are better or worse now compared to 5 years ago, more than half (52 percent) said they’re getting worse.
The staffing industry is rife with challenges, but what’s the single biggest issue impacting an agency’s ability to achieve its future growth goals? Overwhelmingly, responses centered on one thing: people. Respondents say finding quality candidates, working with the right clients, and hiring quality staff matter most in running a successful business.
What is the single biggest issue impacting your ability to meet goals?
People are the heart of staffing and they’re at the center of the challenges respondents say they face when it comes to meeting their goals: candidates, clients, and internal staff.
Candidate scarcity. Unemployment is so low, it is very challenging to get good candidates interested.
Availability of quality recruitment consulting staff or staff with the potential to be a quality recruitment consultant - the emphasis being on CONSULTING, not processing!
Client salary amounts, clients' slow response time for candidate feedback, offer, onboarding etc.
Opportunities or Obstacles?
Digital transformation. The globalization of business. The increased mobility of talent. Online talent platforms. Disruptive forces are impacting the global staffing and recruitment industry, all of which beg the question, “Are these opportunities or are they obstacles for staffing businesses?”
Will digital transformation help or hurt your business?
Respondents overwhelmingly believe digital transformation—the integration of technology into all areas of a business for the purposes of improving operations and the way companies deliver value to customers—will be a benefit to their business.
Thanks to the globalization of business and advancements in technology, workers are more mobile than ever. Increasingly, companies are able to hire qualified candidates beyond their local area and get the best people for the job. So is this an opportunity for the staffing industry or a bigger challenge?
Do globalization and the increased mobility of talent pose a challenge or an opportunity?
Most respondents say globalization and the increased mobility of talent is an opportunity for their business.
With the emergence of online talent platforms, questions have swirled in the global staffing and recruitment sector. Will these disruptive businesses ultimately present an opportunity amidst the rise of the gig economy? Or will they pose an existential threat to the industry?
Are online talent platforms making recruiting for sought-after roles easier or harder?
The jury’s out on whether online talent platforms are helping to make things easier, but sentiment signs point to a belief that they’ll have a more helpful than harmful impact.
United or Divided?
Many factors influence the global staffing industry. Beyond the industry’s outlook for the year ahead, here’s a look at how staffing professionals feel about key topics that could influence the ways in which business gets done in 2019.
Do you agree or disagree with the following topics?
Respondents overwhelmingly agree: employers must accelerate pay increases, staffing agencies must embrace digital transformation, and reskilling candidates is critical. See where respondents are united and divided.
Learning and Development
Ongoing learning is crucial for staffing industry professionals. See how respondents rate their understanding of machine learning and artificial intelligence, what topics on which they think their peers need more training, and the most interesting trends about which they’d like to continue learning.
How would you rate your understanding of machine learning and artificial intelligence?
Most respondents give themselves average marks when it comes to their understanding of machine learning and artificial intelligence within staffing.
The staffing industry is continually changing, which means professionals must constantly keep up with new topics and learn new skills. Respondents believe their fellow staffing industry professionals would benefit from having additional training on these topics.
|Search engine optimization||12%|
|Use of technology to automate manual processes||18%|
|Staffing/recruitment software (CRM, VMS, etc.)||8%|
|Data protection and security||3%|
|Client management and relationship building||13%|
|Candidate screening and selection||12%|
|Candidate nurturing and redeployment||8%|
What is the top area your in which peers need the most training and development?
Respondents think fellow industry professionals would benefit most by having additional training on how to use technology to automate manual processes, social media, and how to manage clients and build relationships.
What’s the most interesting industry trend you’re following?
In staffing, it’s important to stay current on trends impacting the industry as well as trends that are influencing your clients’ businesses and the candidates you’re working to recruit. We asked respondents to share the most interesting industry trends they’re actively following.
Most commonly, respondents say they’re interested in artificial intelligence and how it relates to automation and the recruitment industry. The second most common responses relate to social media and how to leverage it for opportunities within recruitment. Other common responses include topics like digital marketing, the gig/freelance economy, and VMS.
Automation of manual processes and integration of various platforms to streamline candidate sourcing and placements.
AI and digital tools to source and engage candidates and deliver candidates to clients faster than competition.
Artificial Intelligence and how it can improve the recruiting process as a whole.
The development of machine learning and AI technology to automate the lead generation and increase the rate of recruiting.
Social recruiting and what ways are candidates most engaged?
The difference between overseas labor usage for recruitment compared to local recruitment.
The candidate driven market-what tools and practices we can put into place to attract the right talent.
The role recruitment businesses can play in the training and development of unskilled/outdated [skilled] workers and placement into new career. This could change the way external recruitment is seen and present a seismic shift in our sector.
Will VMS/digital/AI replace the telephone? Or do they go hand in hand and how?