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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Staffing Industry Transitions in 2015

In 2008 many staffing businesses began to feel the pressure of the economic down turn that started with the collapse of the subprime mortgage industry in 2007. Some agencies may have even been working with these types of companies and felt the effects immediately. Over the last 7 years, the economy has improved and staffing, as always, has been at the forefront of that change. 

Staffing, as we all know, is an indicator industry. When staffing picks up, other businesses can expect growth as well. It makes sense. Companies are less confident about their hiring options since many had to go through several rounds of layoffs as the recession hit. Staffing becomes the perfect answer.
While the economy has been slow to recover this time, the important take away is that it is recovering and temporary staffing, of all varieties, is riding the crest of that wave. 

Let's take a look at some of the numbers from 2014. 

  • Unemployment at 5.8%: as of November, the unemployment rate was holding steady at 5.8%, the lowest since May, 2008.
  •  Payroll increases: According to the same Department of Labor report, wages have increased by 9 cents in November. This is a difficult stat to track since wages are so reliant on location, production, and experience. 
  •  Increased staffing index: In 2006, the American Staffing Association launched an index to track the growth of the staffing industry. It was set at 100 when it was released and during the recession dipped as low as 66 in 2009. In 2014 it remains comfortably above 100.
  • 11 million temporary employees: Back in 2013, the staffing industry reported that it had hired over 11 million temporary and contract employees across all specializations.
  • Sales at $122 billion: In the same report, the ASA indicated that staffing sales had also reached an all-time high.

So, what's in store for 2015? 

The staffing industry is continuing to experience growth and at the same time technologies are changing the game to allow for more opportunities including online staffing. What can you do to keep the momentum for the New Year? 

  1. Consider online staffing: Offering the ability for your pool of candidates to connect directly with hiring managers can bring in more revenue this year.
  2.  Streamline technology: Automating processes, connecting current systems, and allowing candidates and clients to have access to self-directed portals can also increase your company's ability to source and place talent.
  3. Improve on-boarding procedures: It is currently believed that up to 20% of new employees will quit before their first 90 days is complete. This is a horrifying statistic and many businesses are turning to staffing and temp-to-hire options to help with the onboarding process. Your business can become a bridge to success for both clients and candidates.

Take your staffing business to the next level today! 

NextCrew can help you customize online staffing solutions and better technology integration for your specific business needs. Contact us today!  

Image by wackystuff via Flickr

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Staffing firms, don’t be confused -- NOW IS THE TIME to begin your Online Staffing journey!

Guest Blogger, Andrew Karpie, is Principal Analyst at The Research Platform and a recognized expert on emerging online work intermediation platforms as well as their impact on the staffing industry.  Over the past three years, he has produced and published numerous research reports and articles on these subjects with Staffing Industry Analysts.  He has also produced research and published content for a number of major staffing firms and online staffing platform businesses, and he serves on the Advisory Board of The Rise of the Platform Economy research program, a joint initiative of Stanford University Business School and The Center for the Global Enterprise.  Andrew holds an MS in Policy Analysis from Carnegie Mellon University, and he lives with his family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The trend toward the use of “contingent workforce” is clearly on the rise.  In 2012, per Staffing Industry Analysts, the worldwide staffing industry supported spend of about $350B on just “temporary staffing” contingent workforce, and the total global contingent workforce spend numbers (including SOW, ICs, freelancers) was several multiples larger.  There are now numerous forecasts that point to on-going growth in contingent workforce in future years, and it is not uncommon to find growth rates of 10% or more.  Certainly, this continuing growth is being driven by a number of factors, including the development of new ways of procuring and providing contingent workforce in different forms (i.e., not just continuing to do things only in the same way as was done before).

Over the past three years, my research and analysis has been highly focused on the emergence of so called “online staffing” and other “human cloud” platforms--and their development alongside and within the established staffing industry.  While many in the staffing industry have reacted to online platforms with concerns about “disruption,” I have tended to expect the impact and change to more of a “transformation” of the industry, as more and more staffing firms adopt “digital platform models” in some way and use them to innovate their staffing business models. 

In the past year, I developed the Staffing Industry Analysts 2020 forecast of the aggregate worldwide contingent workforce spend that would be enabled by “online staffing” types of platforms (whether they were platforms of new, free-standing platform-based businesses like Elance-oDesk, Field Nation, etc. or they were “digital platforms” that staffing firms adopted to innovate and evolve in different directions from the traditional staffing business model). 

In one article about that 2020 forecast (which ranged as high $46B in “online staffing-based spend”), I shared my perspective on how “online staffing” and the established staffing industry might “co-evolve:”

“To forecast to 2020 and create a few plausible scenarios, we considered a range of potential drivers and constraints,” …“It’s hard to build anything other than expansive scenarios. The big questions seem to be how fast, in what forms and to what extent. I think two of the big wildcards here are the pace of larger enterprise adoption and to what degree staffing firms (and managed service providers/vendor management systems) start to adopt and leverage these models. By 2020, my guess is that the staffing business will be much more hybridized, similar in some ways to what happened with retail and online shopping.”

What I say in the last sentence about “hybridization” means two things (and refers to the retail industry as an analogy).  First, I mean the staffing industry will become more of a (hybridized) mix of different types of firms (so just as in retail today you find Amazon and Walmart, in staffing you will find something like an Elance-oDesk and a Manpower).  Second, I also mean that established staffing firms will adopt and adapt online staffing platforms into their own businesses (so just as today, Walmart and most retailers are also online, in the future most staffing firms--that are successful—will also have leveraged and integrated online staffing platforms into their business models). 

So in the future, many of the successful staffing firms will likely be “hybrid” staffing firms.  That does not mean that they will stop being staffing firms (doing some part of their staffing in the way they did before) or that they will start offering “wild west” open marketplaces that leave clients and themselves open to compliance and other risks.  What it really means is that staffing firms will appropriate and leverage digital online platforms to expand and innovate their businesses in many directions. 

Certainly, it is conceivable that a staffing firm in the future will offer its clients access to “online workers,” but those workers will be vetted and classified and paid properly just as they would be today.  By adopting and starting to leverage digital platforms, staffing firms will gradually discover that such models open up all kinds of innovative opportunities for serving their clients’ changing needs, improving staffing firm cost structure and service performance, attracting new worker populations in different ways, and most likely creating new revenue-generating lines of staffing services, etc. 

For the purposes of this blog post, it is important to make the point that successful staffing firms of the future are likely to be “hybridized” firms that have managed to leverage digital platforms to innovate their business models and services in a variety of ways, depending upon the staffing segment, the firm strategy, etc. 

At the beginning of this post I said that claims of “online staffing” suddenly “disrupting” the established staffing industry seem to me to be over-blown, and I have discussed what I foresee as an evolutionary process of “transformation” and “hybridization in the years to come. However, “transformation” and “hybridization” are not just buzzwords, they describe real, active developments and changes that have already started in some staffing firms today and will continue to develop in more and more staffing firms in future years. 

It is critical for staffing firm owners/executives, therefore, not to just think, “Ok, no disruption, just transformation…  I can relax, I’ll just sit tight and wait out the storm.”  That attitude could underpin a superlative strategy for “being left behind,” while other staffing firm competitors innovate and outflank you. 

I can assure you: “the time is now” to get started, to begin learning, and to put the investment of time into figuring out how to best innovate your business using a digital platform and keep your business at the front of the competitive pack. 

A recent report by research and advisory firm, Ardent Partners, (“The State of Contingent Workforce Management: The 2014-15 Guide for Managing Non-Traditional Talent”) reveals some eye-popping data from its survey of contingent workforce buyers.  Ardent asked those surveyed about what would be a source of contingent talent now in 2014 versus what would be a source in 2016.

  • 88% said Traditional Staffing Suppliers/Agencies for 2014, but for 2016 that % was only 78%! The way I interpret this is that fewer survey respondents (78%) will regard Traditional Staffing Suppliers as a source of contingent talent in 2016 than in 2014 (when 88% of the respondents consider Traditional Staffing Suppliers as a source).
  • Alternatively, it seems the use various “non-traditional” sources of contingent talent would be increasing -- for example, “Private talent pools/“known” networks [2014 45% versus 2016 61%] and Online labor marketplaces/freelancer networks [2014 23% versus 2016 46%].

Clearly, as the use of contingent workforce by businesses increases, change and innovation in procuring and providing contingent workforce “is happening now.”  Online staffing platforms are already beginning to transform the established staffing industry, and savvy innovative staffing firms are already taking actions to respond to these changes (figuring out how to innovate their businesses and compete and grow using digital platform-based capabilities).  These are the firms that are on their way to becoming the “hybridized” firms in what will be an increasingly “hybridized” staffing industry. 

To make this shift and not be left behind, it is important to start right now by adopting and starting to use an online staffing platform and beginning the learning process to eventually understand the best ways for your own staffing business to leverage this high-potential tool set with your target clients and workforce and find better, innovative ways to serve them both and stay competitive in the staffing game.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Does "All in One" Software Solution Really Exist?

We spoke with a client recently who is looking for one system to handle everything: their applicant tracking system (ATS), customer relationship management (CRM), payroll, and workforce management. This got us thinking about whether or not an all in one system is really the most effective solution for staffing services. 

Instead, companies can create an ecosystem of applications which all communicate and are individually good at what they do. 

Our systems are designed for the staffing industry. Within this industry no one company provides every possible type of talent. Rather, staffing companies specialize in their own industry to maintain integrity and expertise. A light industrial agency isn't going to recruit for locum tenens doctors. Recruiters are trained to source candidates within their own vertical so they can remain focused. This becomes the most effective and efficient way for staffing providers to service their client's needs. 

The same is true for technology. 

While it sounds like the easiest solution an "All in One" system may not be the best. Rather than purchasing a system that doesn't do any one thing well companies should consider having multiple systems, each the best in their specialization, which can integrate with one another for smoother business operations. 

For example, cell phones are changing the way we individually use technology. With just your phone you can connect to the internet, take photos, store music, and make phone calls. However, it has limitations. Some websites are not optimized for the small screen of a cell phone so users may need access to a desk or laptop computer for certain needs. The phone's camera, while excellent, is not professional quality. If someone wishes to take the best photos possible they will still need to invest in the top end DSLR camera.  And all of this tech can communicate with one another. A photographer has the option to upload their photos to a computer and use separate photo manipulation software to improve the raw images. Each of these components is integrated, but not all in one.
As the owner of a staffing company you are proud of the specialized service you provide to your core clients. Why not work with a series of systems that can each provide the same level of service for your organization? 

NextCrew offers a robust online staffing platform which can allow companies to connect different components to create a powerful ecosystem. It can also facilitate online staffing business models which can work in multiple staffing verticals. Our system fluidly integrates ATS, payroll, invoice management, vendor management systems (VMS) and more to bring efficiency to your organization and offer new opportunities for revenue streams in the world of online staffing. Contact us today to learn more! 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Online staffing is not one-size-fits-all

Whether a staffing service has been in business for five, ten, or over twenty years it is clear that they will establish a certain set of procedures that work for their staff, clients, and candidates. Having ways for your company to stand out from your competition is essential and everyone strives to provide the very best customer service and job placement. 

Then online staffing comes along and threatens to shake up the very core of the industry. Now, recruiters don't need to be the middle step between clients and candidates and this can sound a little scary for a company who has spent years developing and training their recruiting staff to provide exemplary service. But online staffing doesn't have to be that way. If you're considering implementing this change in your company it is important to realize that you don't have to completely overhaul the way your business currently runs, you can simply enhance it. 

Online staffing is not one-size-fits-all.  

Over the last decade online retail and digital communications have dominated the marketplace. When companies like Walmart began to offer online services to their shoppers they didn't change their current model. Many people who are part of their target demographic still prefer shopping in the store but the number of shoppers utilizing the online services is growing. In 2014 the online shopping business grew by 30%.  Even more startling is the fact that 95% of potential Walmart shoppers will research their purchase online before going into the store to buy it. It is important to note here that Walmart didn't change their business model but they provided additional options as their target demographics began to change their shopping habits. 

Both your clients and your candidates are changing with the digital age. In 2014, 87% of American adults use the internet to get their news, connect with friends and family, and apply for jobs. This is a huge jump over 2005 where only 66% were online. Staffing companies need to follow their candidates and offer online tools and ways to digitally connect to reach the audience they are targeting. 

The digital age is changing the way clients interact with their vendors as well. There are multiple direct web services that connect freelancers to the people who want to hire them. This is beginning to leave some staffing services out in the cold. By providing online options it allows staffing companies to cater to their customers who want high-touch and hard to find talent as well as a high volume and on-demand workforce.

If your company is considering the addition of online staffing services over the next few years the best way to get started is to implement a workforce management system. This will allow you to enhance your services later in a seamless, integrated manner. You will be able to transition to forms of online staffing that fit your business model and your clients' interest.

For more information, check out our post about some of the reasons better workforce management may be needed to stay competitive in the current market. 

Are you ready to explore an online staffing business model which works for your business? 
Contact NexCrew today!  

Image by Bruce Guenter via Flickr

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Efficient Workforce Management: A Step Towards Online Staffing Business

We talk with a lot of companies who have considered making major changes in their office technology. Most companies within the contingent staffing industries have heard of workforce management and even on-line staffing. Many even love the idea and agree that this is the future of staffing. But for multiple reasons companies sometimes stop short of implementing these changes in their business for a variety of reasons including: 
  •  A fear of change
  • The high cost of a new system
  • Leadership decisions
  •  Issues with current systems not communicating
  • Uncertainty of where to start.

Companies who may not be considering entire online staffing systems who are still using older technology or even manual systems to keep track of their talent may be interested in learning that workforce management tools and online staffing are simpler solutions when working with the right vendor. 

A better workforce management system for the 21st century is not only necessary for efficient work processes but it can take even the smallest staffing businesses to the next level. It can allow for companies to provide more value added services and increase their own profit and viability in the marketplace. 

Online staffing is about hiring and sourcing talent online. Businesses utilize online systems to source their own talent and making hiring decisions. Why allow your competition to have the corner on this market when integrating an online staffing program may be as simple as upgrading your current database and workforce management system. Your company can facilitate these transactions allowing your employees to work more and your company to generate more revenue. 

A new workforce management system will allow your company to:
  1. Standardize your processes
  2. Engage and communicate better with your pre-screened talent pool
  3. Allow for the scalability of your business
  4. Provide better service to your client base
  5. Project trends based on the information in your system
Workforce management is the foundation for offering various online staffing business models.  

If you work with a contingent workforce, NextCrew can help you analyze your current system, vision, and client base to determine how to position your workforce management technology to take advantages of the opportunities knocking at your door. Are you ready?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Anticipation: How Online Staffing Can Change The Industry Forever


Key to massive success is anticipation. – Marc Cuban

Marc Cuban anticipated that audio and video would be a critical part of the internet and started his company AudioNet (Later with that in mind. He then sold it to Yahoo for $6 Billion just a few years later. The lessons of Cuban's massive success show us that the future of staffing could be just one click away. Staffing is evolving at breakneck speed mostly due to available technology that can make it faster, easier, and more efficient. 

Massive shifts in our access to technology and information as well as the big changes facing our economy over the years has given us a new perspective on how staffing fits in to the larger corporate environment. Talent can be managed in new ways such as self-service portals, client interfaces, and an on-demand workforce. 

When you combine these three advances in staffing with payment processing it appears that online staffing will be a $46 Billion industry by 2020. Can companies afford not to explore these new strategies and technologies? 

Staffing companies have all of the information they need right now to start providing these services. They have access to talent and connections to clients. The missing piece is the technology that seamlessly integrates these two halves of their business directly with one another. There are currently over 150 online staffing platforms operating across the world today, but most, if not all, of those are companies that actually compete with, rather than enable, staffing firms.   It is important, therefore, that staffing firms not “mistake the forest for the trees” and incisively narrow down their options to find the a model that will for work their current business and allow them to move in that direction in easy to follow steps. 

Of course, no one wants to reinvent the wheel. Many companies are concerned about making such a big shift in their business offering and losing the things that set them apart from their competition. The right service provider is one who can be an extension of your current business. They will work with companies to develop tools that work with the existing systems and simply enhance what is currently available. This will provide a value added service to clients and help recruiters stay engaged with their talent pool. 

NextCrew offers a software platform for staffing companies which is very adaptable to online staffing business models. These include:
There is no need for an organization to completely change the way they currently provide services to their clients. Online staffing is designed to enhance the staffing industry and open it up to a new future of technology. Based on your business, clients and talent you work with you have to decide, which online staffing business model works best for you. It is about understanding trends of staffing industry and new ways to provide value add service to your clients as well as staying connected with your talents.

Are you ready for massive success?

Feel free to contact us to discuss online staffing business models.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Solving the Staffing Software Riddle: A Small Agency's Guide to Upgrading

Staffing services come in all shapes and sizes. From large international and corporate entities to small mom-and-pop boutique agencies each business has unique requirements. Often, the smaller, more local, companies have less flexibility when it comes to their systems even though they are expected to provide the same level of service as the big companies with more sizable budgets. 

As a result, several of these independent staffing agencies rely on out of date computer systems or, in some cases, no applicant tracking database at all. Some may only utilize a payroll system such as QuickBooks, Paychex, or ADP. These organizations may have their temporary staff use printed time cards that they must turn in or fax over to the organization. Some have moved on to PDFs of timesheets which will still need to be manually processed using valuable time and resources in such a small organization. 

Furthermore, many smaller agencies are concerned about the disruption that can occur when transitioning to a new system. Not only is there implementation that can halt business for an extended period of time but the training of staff members, many of whom are not comfortable or familiar with the new technology being implemented in the office. 

Let's take a closer look at the concerns some companies may have that causes them to delay the use of staffing software technology that could ultimately enhance their business model. 

  • Information migration: Many small businesses use older, out of date database systems that have been populated with thousands of applications throughout the years. They may be concerned about losing this information with a transition to a new system.
  • Training: Boutique staffing agencies are very proud of their employee retention and many have worked with the same recruiters for 20 or 30 years. This means that the learning curve for new technology can be high. Owners and managers are concerned that their staff will be uncomfortable learning new systems and this will result in decreased productivity in the office.
  •  Systems integration: If a payroll service is being used there may be some questions about how they can integrate their current systems with a new product. The loss of payroll information, concerns about using the new product, and the unfamiliarity with a new system can all contribute to anxiety about a switch.
  • Disruption of business: The implementation, integration, training, and use of a new system will inevitably affect the smooth operation of the business for a period of time. Business owners and their staff want to ensure that their day to day functions will not be disrupted and often stick with less efficient systems.
  • System malfunctions: Technology comes with a certain level of risk. Many small companies are very concerned about the possibility of computer systems malfunctioning or becoming inoperable as to create large timeframes where work cannot be completed as expected while the IT company or department figures out and solves the problem.

All of these concerns are valid and need to be addressed by the service provider. Investing in fluid technology which integrates all current systems and creates a seamless integration process is possible. 

NextCrew is a cloud-based solution that can integrate all of the necessary systems for the smooth operation of staffing services at all levels. In 2012 our company was founded to develop an intuitive online staffing platform to streamline the most complex and time-consuming processes of maintaining on-demand workforce. Our system is fully customizable so the user experience is unique for every company we work with.

Staffing services of all sizes understand the challenges that come with the business model. The need to focus on business growth often means day-to-day logistics are set aside for a future time. Often, this time never seems right to make a change so it is easy to limp along with less than perfect systems and processes. 

Our product offers each client the ability to create a personalized and private-labeled website. Candidates and clients are able to interact with self-service portals to streamline the process and allow recruiters to focus on recruiting rather than day to day administration and employee management. Real-time scheduling eliminates much of the time spend contacting unavailable employees. Our system is based in the cloud which means that down servers and technical problems are not likely to affect our clients' ability to conduct their business. Our system can be optimized for mobile use and can easily integrate with current payroll and applicant tracking systems to enhance current technology used within the office. 

Companies working with NexCrew will be able to utilize our customized services to enhance their front end operations and streamline back office processes such as payroll and client invoices. For example, many organizations we speak with use QuickBooks as their back office software. They don't need to eliminate the use of the system they are comfortable with but can integrate it with our services to make the entire system more efficient and effective.  As a cloud-based product, NextCrew is a good option for companies who want to offer a state of the art interface to their clients and staff without changing their internal systems.

There is no doubt that an older, tried and true computer system can be comforting and familiar. Entering a new age of technology can make things feel like they are spinning out of control. NextCrew strives to work one-on-one with companies to ensure that the transition is as seamless as possible and allowing them to experience all of the benefits of new, supported workforce management technology. 

Are you ready to take the leap? 

 Image by Ged Carroll via Flickr