Goodbye cautious optimism. Hello bullish forecasts. See you later post-recession anxiety. Welcome bold innovation and business growth. At this year’s Staffing Industry Analysts’ (SIA) Executive Forum, I was struck by the clean break from the prudence and apprehension that have set the tone for many industries, forecasts and conferences since the start of the Great Recession.
Despite clear challenges ahead — online staffing, skilled labor shortage, etc. — the mood at this year’s Forum was bullish and confident. To find out if the conference mood signaled a competitive, dynamic year ahead for staffing, I spoke with a handful of SIA Executive Forum attendees to discuss their industry outlook and what they learned at the event. Here’s what they said:
Good Times Now, Good Times Ahead
As Inavero’s CEO Eric Gregg noted, the positive energy at Executive Forum is a reflection of where the staffing industry—especially temporary staffing—finds itself today: in the midst of a very positive economic cycle.
“Historically speaking, we likely have another two to four years of strong growth before another economic recession or correction,” Gregg said. “Now is the time to invest, grow and put the things in place to outpace competition during the next economic downturn.”
Online Staffing to Drive Innovation & Transparency
Every executive I spoke with since the Executive Forum has mentioned the fact the online staffing is a trend that will not go away and one that will shape the staffing industry going forward.
“The growth of online staffing companies is an important development for our industry,” said Kathy Greco, SVP of Strategic Initiatives for CorTech. “Because it affects how people find jobs and businesses find people, it’s critical that staffing firms get ahead of the trend by adopting best practices where they can and creating valuable differentiation where they cannot.”
According to Gregg, online staffing is not likely to drive widespread “online only” models, but it is likely to increase the importance of transparency: “The online staffing movement will increase the demand for transparency from hiring manager and job seekers. The most successful and innovative staffing firms will be those who can answer that call for greater visibility.”
An Eye on IT, Always
Noting that several Executive Forum talks demonstrated how technology has shaped many fundamental staffing industry changes. Mike Cleland, the CEO and Founder of Charted Path, advises staffing firms to keep a sharp eye on the IT sector.
“Staffing firms and their leaders need to be aware of the long-term, strategic trends that could disrupt the industry,” Cleland said. “It’s important to keep a close eye on the big technology providers and innovators. They have traditionally been the biggest games changers for the staffing industry over the last 20 years and they will be in the years ahead.”
It was also Cleland who said he felt “bullish” about the industry after the Executive Forum and it was a very fitting word considering the positive outlooks his peers and fellow executives shared. From “excited” to “rejuvenated,” the industry and its leaders are rich in optimism and ready for a competitive, thriving year in staffing.