Staffing M&A trends in 2024

In the dynamic world of staffing, strategic moves such as selling your business or acquiring another can significantly enhance market position, expand capabilities and capitalize on emerging opportunities.

M&A is a pivotal growth driver for staffing, and I believe we are poised to see a moderate to significant increase in activity in 2024. While 2023 levels were below that of historic highs in 2022, I believe 2024 will be a rebound year based on several factors. As a financial services vendor with hundreds of staffing firm clients, I’ve observed firsthand the interest in M&A transactions and the value they can bring.

Looking ahead, I anticipate a moderate uptick in M&A activity in 2024, driven by several key trends and drivers:

Heightened interest from private buyers. Despite the pullback from large public buyers in 2023 due to economic uncertainties, private buyers emerged as active participants in smaller-scale deals. This surge in private buyer activity, typically involving transactions under $50 million, has been a source of resilience in the staffing M&A landscape.

Historical perspective. While 2023 witnessed a decline in announced M&A deals compared to the preceding boom year of 2022, a historical view reveals that activity levels were akin to those observed in 2018 and 2019 — both considered healthy years for M&A. This historical context suggests a favorable outlook for M&A in 2024.

Private equity interest. Despite market challenges, private equity firms maintained interest in the staffing sector in 2023, signaling confidence in its resilience and growth potential. With substantial capital at their disposal, private equity firms are poised to continue investing in staffing, boding well for M&A activity in the latter half of 2024.

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Focus on industry niches. Specialized staffing firms catering to specific industry niches, such as IT and healthcare, will always garner attention from acquirers seeking to diversify their service portfolios. These niche segments remain attractive targets for acquisitions, contributing to the overall momentum in M&A activity.

Stabilizing interest rates. The Federal Reserve’s decision to maintain interest rates at the March meeting has instilled stability in the market. While future rate adjustments remain uncertain, the current environment offers favorable conditions for M&A transactions, with improved market sentiment and potential cost of capital benefits.

Potential for high valuations. Beyond market conditions, various factors such as company size, leadership, niche focus and growth trajectory influence valuation multiples in staffing M&A. Despite fluctuations, staffing M&A has the potential to command high multiples, particularly for high-performing firms.

Pent-up demand. After a period of economic uncertainty, pent-up demand for M&A transactions is poised to materialize in 2024. As inflation decreases and market conditions stabilize, both buyers and sellers who have been awaiting opportune moments may initiate strategic moves to advance their business objectives.

In summary, the staffing industry is poised for a resurgence in M&A activity in 2024, driven by a confluence of factors such as heightened private buyer interest, private equity investments and pent-up demand. By staying attuned to these trends and leveraging strategic insights, staffing firms can navigate the M&A landscape with confidence and seize growth opportunities in the year ahead.

Jeremy Bilsky

Jeremy Bilsky
Jeremy Bilsky is the senior director and general manager at Advance Partners.

Jeremy Bilsky

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