At this year’s Staffing World, we tackled the question of build versus buy, explored the convergence of staffing and technology, and did a deep dive on the ROI of staffing platforms. This article is the third in our series to recap the biggest takeaways.
The Convergence of Staffing and Technology: How Staffing Platforms are Changing the Staffing Landscape
Earlier this year, our CEO Rohan was joined by several industry leaders to discuss Indeed entering staffing with their platform technology Indeed Flex. After the success of this session, ASA requested a revival of this panel at Staffing World.
Defining the basics of staffing platforms
Before exploring what’s happening in the landscape and how staffing agencies can best position themselves, it’s critical to step back and define the basics of what a staffing platform is and the ultimate goal for adopting one.
Staffing platforms, sometimes also referred to as online staffing platforms or online marketplaces, are technologies that enable candidates to self-select shifts, either directly from clients (direct sourcing platforms like Wonolo) or through an agency (who has built their own or is leveraging a staffing platform as a service like TimeSaved). While functionality can differ, this is the key enablement, and it’s centred around a mobile experience.
The main goals for staffing platform technology, as explained by Chris Loope of BGSF, are:
- Reducing the cycle time to fill orders and get people to work
- Increasing the satisfaction of that experience
- Increasing revenue and margin as a result
Understanding what candidates want
The candidate experience is central to staffing platform technology, so how do we figure out what they want? Lauren Jones pointed out that sometimes we forget to think about our candidates as consumers. And COVID did a lot to change consumer behaviour. It drove people to mobile technology for more transactions than ever before. But it also took away control, visibility and stability for many people. And so there is a critical emotional component to putting control of the job process into the candidate’s hands that staffing platforms can provide.
A new kind of competitor emerges in staffing
Many industries have a history of disruption that looks like this: tech-forward companies come in and chip away at traditional models piece by piece, and by the time incumbents realize what’s happening it’s too late. And while not every attempt to make an impact will work immediately (like Uber Works entering the market at a bad time), failure is an important part of the iteration process for technology companies.
One entrant of particular interest to the industry should be Indeed Flex. Indeed launched their own staffing platform in 2020 with relative stealth. They started with retail and hospitality in Texas but intend to expand rapidly. And with deep pockets, industry know-how and a wealth of data, they are well positioned for success.
Essentially, staffing agencies are now facing a completely different kind of competitor. You’re not just competing with other staffing agencies anymore, you are competing with technology companies.
“The more realistic threat is that companies that adopted technology or companies that entered the space as tech companies will accelerate a decreasing market share, might accelerate a decreasing margin share for staffing companies that don’t have a response plan” – Chris Loope.
How the industry is responding to digital transformation
While staffing platforms have the potential to change the landscape of staffing (and already have), the threat of cutting out agencies entirely should not be of major concern. As noted by Lauren Jones, staffing agencies bring a level of service that, when combined with the right technology, makes them uniquely positioned to win.
So far, response to technology evolution looks different across different staffing verticals (with roughly 1 in 5 leveraging staffing platforms currently, while 67% are in the process of evaluating and deploying). Healthcare is perhaps the best example of success so far. There has been an explosion in staffing platform adoption over the 18 months, with leading agencies building their own (Aya Healthcare, AMN) and agencies licensing from other providers to compete with platform players like CareRev, Trusted Health and SnapNurse.
When Aya launched their Connect platform at the beginning of 2020, it was met with friction in internal adoption. But COVID accelerated the adoption out of necessity, and they went from 1.25 billion to over 5 billion after its launch (as noted by Alan Braynin at the SIA Gig Conference).
“This convergence, if we’re willing to make that leap and do that effectively, gives us a tactical advantage.” – Jason Leverant
The importance of change management
The rapid evolution we see happening in the industry right now can certainly create a sense of urgency around technology implementation. But planning ahead is absolutely critical. It’s important to start with why, and understand the specific impact your agency is looking for. It’s equally important to explain how – how is it going to be rolled out, how is success being measured and how do people fit into those expectations.
And while thinking about the level of communication necessary, you’ll need to address the elephant in the room. That this technology is not meant to replace recruiters, rather to make them more effective and prepared for the future of the industry. As Chris Loope said, “we’re going to make you bionic recruiters”.
Another important element of change management and technology implementation is data cleanliness. Having up-to-date data is key to a good user experience, so candidates and clients aren’t interacting with irrelevant information.
At this year’s Staffing World, a key takeaway was that staffing platform adoption is on a rapid rise, and agencies need to have a plan to respond. Because those who combine the best in recruiting talent with the best in technology are going to be the ones defining the future of the industry.
More from Staffing World 2021: