Key Takeaways for Recruiters from the MSA’s 2018 Annual Conference

Artificial intelligence, the #MeToo movement, and mergers and acquisitions took center stage at the Massachusetts Staffing Association’s (MSA) 2018 annual conference, held earlier this month, as recruiting professionals discussed the implications of these trends on both their firms and the industry.

Presenting the theme of “What (Could Possibly Be) Next?”, the event brought together more than 100 recruiting professionals from Massachusetts and the greater Northeast region. It fostered broad conversations about state and federal legislation, and tackled important industry issues in technology, the workplace, and business growth.

The staffing industry for 2018 is ripe with opportunity, but poses some challenges that recruiting professionals will need to overcome to ensure they’re maximizing their productivity, streamlining their operations, and growing their businesses. How can staffing firms ensure that they’re well prepared to tackle some of the challenges this year, and how should they most effectively increase their operations and develop the strongest relationships with their candidates and clients?

Following are three major takeaways from the MSA’s 2018 Annual Conference and some strategies for how staffing firms can prepare themselves for the future:

Artificial Intelligence Won’t Replace Human Recruiters

Much has been discussed about the concerns of artificial intelligence replacing human recruiters, but can that truly happen? Does artificial intelligence possess the same emotional intelligence as humans so that it can ultimately overtake their work? Not true, according to a panel led by Bullhorn’s Vinda Souza. Entitled “AI and the Future of Staffing,” the panelists, which also included Monster’s Chris Cho, MAS Medical Staffing’s Bill Murray, and Bullhorn’s Jonathan Novich, argued staffing firms should be more excited about how artificial intelligence can aid process improvements, generate stronger candidate engagement, and eliminate non-value-added tasks. According to Bullhorn’s “2018 North American Staffing & Recruiting Trends Report: The Industry’s Outlook for 2018,” 40% of respondents attributed automation’s greatest value to increased efficiencies and the same percentage to increased engagement. Artificial intelligence can undertake lower-level initiatives such as scheduling, screening, following up, and data entry, but it could never fully overtake more strategic initiatives such as developing and growing candidate and client relationships. That’s because artificial intelligence can’t advance a conversation the same way humans can — it lacks the required empathy to match the tone of the conversation to progress it forward.

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Stronger Harassment Policies Will Help Combat #MeToo

There has been no shortage of headlines related to the #MeToo sexual harassment movement that has spawned out of Hollywood and impacted corporate America. Meanwhile, according to research from CareerBuilder, 41% of respondents said they’ve had relationships in the workplace. For staffing firms to navigate what can be tricky waters, they need to ensure that their harassment policies and procedures are fully updated. The“#MeToo Movement in Your Workplace” panelists discussed the importance of developing and implementing better policies — with better employee training — to address workplace harassment. In order to do so, firms must focus on culture change by ensuring that their management teams set proper expectations for not tolerating inappropriate workplace behavior. It only takes one incident to turn a workplace culture into a toxic one, and the #MeToo movement has created a new reality that’s here to stay.

Preparedness Is Key for Growing via Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A)

North American M&A transaction volume increased 28% year-over-year in 2017, according to Staffing Industry Analysts. And 2018 presents even more opportunities to continued growing firms via M&A because of private equity and cheap debt, according to a panel on “Preparing Your Staffing Businesses for Exit … Start Now to Maximize Value.” The panelists said that firms looking to grow through M&A need to ensure that they’re aligned on all their internal processes now and not later. Why? Because not having important items such as compensation plans or management team plans in place will hinder the quality of firms’ revenue. Firms must also focus on their people because — at the end of the day — their people separate their firms from the competition. The panel concluded that companies that drive exceptional value have solid growth strategies and retain their current employees.

It’s certainly an exciting time for the staffing industry. For the firms that want to be the real winners of 2018 and beyond, they must adopt the best technology, effectively manage all their workplace operations, and devise the best growth strategies — because they never know “What (Could Possibly Be) Next.”

Steve Vittorioso

Steve Vittorioso
Steve Vittorioso is the media relations manager for Bullhorn, a global provider of CRM and operations software for the staffing industry.

Steve Vittorioso

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