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Technology and Automation

by: Andy Zarkadas, Chief Revenue Officer at Peoplenet

Most of those in the staffing industry agree on at least one thing’ staffing firms historically have been laggard in their adoption of technology and automation to run their businesses.

Investment in this category has been well below average, according to a recent survey conducted by CareerBuilder. In fact, the staffing industry ranked 16th out of 20 in key industries polled with respect to technology and automation. Given these statistics, one could make the case that the staffing industry is getting pulled into technology rather than leading it.

Despite the past, the staffing industry is showing signs of change. Technology spend is on the rise. Staffing firms are learning that investment in this area brings higher returns.

In this blog post, we examined three areas where technology is showing signs of making a big impact, as well as strategies that can help you win more.

Key Technologies

  • Front and Back Office Systems: According to a recent SIA Webinar hosted by Peoplenet, one third of staffing firms in attendance listed investment in front office technology as a top priority. And, why wouldn’t they? On average, staffing firms that utilize ATS show a 75 percent decrease in unproductive time. But don’t forget the back office. There is no better way to irritate a client than to bill them incorrectly. Both technologies are being heavily evaluated and many firms are giving the staffing software market a closer look as they aim to be more nimble and competitive in the marketplace.
  • VMS Automation: Over $70B in contingent workforce spend flows through the VMS market in North America. With this comes immense opportunity for market share capture for staffing firms. And given that VMS has been around since the late 90’s, you’d expect that staffing companies supplying into these programs are satisfied with their experience. This is anything but the case. The Staffing Industry Analysts reports that staffing companies are the strongest detractors of VMS programs with an NPS score of 1 percent, a decreasing trend. Some would say that this statistic is mainly attributed to compressed margins and lack of access to the hiring manager, but we think it’s a lot more. The experience of working as a supplier within a VMS is archaic. Dual entry, arduous, resource intensive data management, and AR reconciliation can be a bear. There needs to be a better way. VMS Automation products are newer to the marketplace, but are making a big impact as the firms participating are all advocates for creating a better experience. 31 percent polled during a recent SIA Webinar stated VMS automation is a top priority for 2017.  We can’t wait to see how this sector evolves.
  • GigE: Much has been discussed about the emerging Gig Economy by the staffing community. What does it mean? Friend or foe to the traditional staffing ecosystem? Well, it’s prevalence has grown at a staggering rate in the last few years. 55 million will do freelance work this year, which is equivalent to 35 percent of the total workforce. According to a recent Fast Company survey, 81 percent of the traditional workforce would work outside their primary job if work was available.  With the increases presence of online work markets, work execution platforms, and online work services, the perfect storm is upon us as generational nuances and technology collide.

Strategies for Winning

  • Winning more is not equivalent to saving more: Look for the business cases and increases in ROI that come with investing in technology and automation. Don’t be fooled, your customers, candidates, and employees are examining your staffing technology strategy. Even potential candidates are looking beyond the balance sheet to technology. According to CareerBuilder, 82 percent of candidates are looking for staffing firms with up to date technology and 3/4 believe great technology is a differentiator.    
  • Embrace (and learn from) the disruptors: The industry is being flooded with startups in recruitment tech resulting in an overwhelming amount of solutions to consider. But pay attention because some of them are great. Educate yourself, explore these new ideas but don’t turn a blind eye as there are some real headwinds coming to the traditional staffing model. Those who can embrace the disruptors and navigate with them will win. Those who ignore them will likely find themselves in a defensive position.
  • Emerging Workforce: The ability to create an up to date and relevant candidate and client and employee experience is driving who wins in today’s workforce. By centralizing the technology experience, you are promoting retention of staff, loyal candidates and a repeatable experience which in turn provides better data. Lastly, ensuring this experience has mobility provides more opportunity to re-engage clients and candidates as they move around.

If you buy it, they will come.

Great people want to be tooled to work in the way they live. The investments you make in the tools that enable the heartbeat of your business will be a critical evaluation point for your emerging workforce and future leaders. Technology is the catalyst for not only innovation, but recruiting great people, especially in the younger generation. A Pew Research study of millennials indicated that seventy-seven percent believe access to technology they like to use makes them more efficient, which gives them more time to focus on what the staffing industry was built on – great candidate and client relationships.

About Peoplenet

Peoplenet provides time-keeping solutions designed for the staffing industry. The system tracks over one million time cards per month, for more than 350 staffing agencies including eight of the top 10 in the country.

Regardless of your agency’s size or the markets you serve, Peoplenet has the solution for you. With Peoplenet, you can eliminate paper in Time Keeping and increase agency compliance and client retention while having a competitive advantage. It’s a simple time capture and approval solution that really works.

Want to hear from Andy more about this topic? Click to watch the recent webinar covering this topic with Peoplenet!

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