Every year, new developments and changes in economic conditions impact the way staffing firms approach recruiting. However, 2020 and 2021 have brought unprecedented changes.
Based on what I’ve seen, there are five top challenges that staffing firms are facing in 2021, and they include important factors that affect how these professionals do their jobs in both large and small ways.
1. Shifts In Remote Work And How We Identify Candidates
While employees are gradually beginning to return to the office, a significant number are still working remotely — a trend that is expected to last beyond the end of the year. According to consulting firm Willis Towers Watson, about two out of every five employees will still be working remotely by the end of the current year.
The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated a trend already occurring, which means that staffing firms equipped to identify and place candidates for remote positions are likely to be more successful. Staffing firms that know how to identify and place candidates who can work independently with little direct supervision, communicate proficiently using technology and take responsibility for their work will be in demand.
Many of our clients at eSkill are using our pre-employment testing, behavioral assessments and video interviews to identify and screen candidates who have the best job compatibility for remote work. Employment tests can provide recruiters with detailed skills and behavioral data about each candidate, helping to measure their suitability for a specific job opening and limiting the chances of making a costly placement mistake. Knowing more about the candidate’s likelihood of success in advance, even in a remote work environment, increases the likelihood the placement will stick.
2. Recruitment Has Become More Digital
Even for staffing firms that have adapted to the digital environment, the core of their work lies in relationships. Recruiters rely on their ability to build relationships with clients and candidates to succeed. Building these relationships can be difficult in an online environment.
Technology and evaluation tools can also be leveraged to provide advanced intelligence on every candidate. Video interviews, for instance, are valuable for staffing firms seeking to gain soft skills feedback from candidates. One-way interviews allow a candidate to answer questions independently; then, the search committee can review the video interview as they have time. Making the process asynchronous can be more efficient, allowing the interview committee to assess many of the same candidate interactions as during an in-person interview.
3. Significant Competition For Open Positions
Competition can be fierce for some open positions, and others may be hard to fill if compensation hasn’t increased for the jobs. Many are calling 2021 the “great resignation.” Workers are finding they want new and different experiences.
Staffing firms that can coach their clients on how salaries have increased in the past year will help them understand how to land the best employees for the roles. I’m finding that some staffing firms are also helping their clients assess current employees for internal moves. The more staffing firms can help clients assess the environment, the candidate pool and the individual candidates for roles, the more successful the firm and the client will be.
4. A Lack Of Candidates For Customer-Facing Jobs
Many companies, particularly in retail, hospitality and even healthcare industries, are having difficulty filling their client-facing jobs. Partly because of the pandemic unemployment benefits and the risk of exposure to Covid-19, retail and restaurant workers are rethinking going back to work and are now in short supply.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, employers face a shrinking number of available workers for their open positions, which makes it challenging to keep their workforces at full strength.
This reality means retail, hospitality and other first-responder organizations need to change their approach to focus on how the company will care for and support their employees during and after the pandemic. Companies that care for their employees and offer benefits, understanding, safety protocols and increased compensation will have a better chance of attracting and keeping candidates.
Staffing firms that support these industries will need to coach their clients to provide a different work environment and benefits than they may have provided in the past. The challenge is to resist the “warm body” approach and continue identifying candidates that are most likely to succeed long term. Adding employment tests to the interview process can help reduce turnover from hires made out of desperation.
5. More Emphasis Than Ever On DEI
According to Monster.com, nearly 40% of companies do not have a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy. For many employees, though, diversity and inclusion are important factors when they consider whether to take a job with a company or not.
Companies must develop and implement plans to address the diversity of their workforce. Staffing firms that can help clients implement DEI programs and policies help their clients in becoming more attractive to candidates.
These efforts can take many forms, including
• Helping client companies understand best practices.
• Evaluating and suggesting the questions they use to interview candidates.
• Using employment testing as a tool to combat unconscious bias in hiring.
• Building affinity groups.
Staffing firms that guide their clients to make their workplaces more inclusive provide more value. Staffing firms can help present these DEI measures to prospective candidates making the company more attractive.
Change is the nature of business, and these adjustments, while happening faster than they might have without the pandemic, were coming anyway. While these challenges may seem daunting, I believe there is good reason to feel confident about the future. Staffing firms that leverage the right solutions and strategies to differentiate themselves will help their clients evolve and place more candidates into jobs they love.