The staffing industry has reached an inflection point. Talent shortages, mobile technology and access to gig work have fundamentally changed the rules of competition. In the past, agencies focused on winning new customers to place talent. Today, agencies compete for talent to win new customers.

The advent of talent-centric staffing will impact every aspect of running a staffing agency. Increasingly, talent expects an Uber-like experience from their staffing agency: one single place to get everything done.

Imagine having a single mobile app on your smartphone where you can find relevant opportunities, select shifts that work for your schedule, remotely upload documents, track your time and get paid. If your staffing agency can’t provide you with this experience, how long would you wait before switching to an agency that does? Employers will quickly learn which staffing agency does the best job engaging talent. Loyal talent means loyal customers.

In the near future, it’s not hard to imagine a staffing agency supporting a variety of Uber-like talent scenarios, including:

  • Labor on demand — from project-based to seasonal, part-time to full
  • Self-directed scheduling across multiple locations, assignments and employers
  • Same-day pay that consolidates all assignments and pay rates incurred in one day
  • Flexible allocation of costs/bills to multiple separate departments and employers while maintaining a holistic view value generated by individual talents

PREMIUM CONTENT: Industrial Staffing Growth Assessment: June 2022 Update

For staffing agencies and the software vendors that support them, it’s crunch time. Early adopters of mobile talent platforms have reported spectacular revenue growth along with higher talent retention, faster time to fill and improved gross margins. Unfortunately, many staffing software vendors are poorly positioned to support a talent-centric delivery model. Here’s why:

  • Software Design: Traditional staffing software optimized sales and recruiter workflows. Delivering a great mobile talent experience was an afterthought.
  • Fragmented System of Record: The traditional staffing tech stack usually consists of separate ATS, sales, payroll and billing solutions cobbled together with APIs. It’s difficult to build a great end-to-end mobile talent experience when the core system is fragmented.
  • Infrastructure and Scale: Assuming talent loves your new mobile experience, you can expect user data transaction volumes to triple during peak hours. Mobile users will not tolerate slow response times or unreliable service. Sadly, most staffing software companies are niche operators that lack the infrastructure to scale a mobile talent app to serve thousands of workers in near real time.
  • Vision and Critical Mass: It takes strong leadership, technical depth, financial strength and years of trial and error with pilot clients to deploy a high-quality mobile talent app. If a software vendor isn’t already delivering a credible mobile talent app to their client base, it’s unlikely they can catch up with market leaders in enough time to be relevant.

The bottom line? Staffing agencies that wish to sustain leadership in the rapidly changing marketplace for labor need to think carefully about their primary technology partner. To find the firms best positioned to help you navigate talent-centric staffing, here are several critical questions you should be asking potential vendors before you issue an RFP.

1. Do they have a proven mobile talent application on the market today? Speed to market is everything, and vaporware doesn’t count. Your talent solution should also have a proven track record integrated with your staffing system of record. Can you speak to referenceable clients? Are support tools available for rollout? Can the vendor cite examples of best practice deployments?

2. Does the application provide everything talent needs in one place, with a consistent, intuitive user interface to support all workflows? Nobody will use a clunky, confusing mobile app. To create a truly outstanding mobile experience for talent, the entire talent workflow from initial application, onboarding, and shift scheduling to time keeping and pay need to be part of the core application. One standard interface. Data should be entered only once. Notifications and updates should support the talent workflow.

3. Does the system of record and its underlying data architecture support end-to-end talent workflows? The system of record should offer a single consistent version of the truth for talent, recruiters and administrators simultaneously. Staffing agencies should be wary of fractured tech stacks that make it hard to follow talent work steps through the system.

We’ll share the next 5 questions you should ask a potential vendor in part 2 of this series.

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