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As many have now experienced, moving to 100% virtual work creates some obvious challenges, especially for tight teams that are used to office settings. This has had a clear impact on the staffing industry, where data must be repeatedly analyzed in an array of inputs to determine how global industries are responding, where demand patterns exist, and which emerging roles and skills will become sought after. As a result, the staffing industry must become more data literate if it hopes to thrive during and after this crisis. 

100% virtual with greater flexibility

Twice yearly, Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) publishes a comprehensive forecast of the U.S. staffing industry. This forecast includes market size and growth and estimates the numbers for categories such as contract, contract to hire, direct hire, and retained search. Their March report provided a forecast for the pandemic and the rest of 2020 by analyzing three possible scenarios: 

  • Scenario #1: Shorter outbreak. Lockdown conditions are lifted in May, and the economy returns to normalcy fairly rapidly.
  • Scenario #2: Base case. The economy gradually recovers during the second half of the year, aided by massive government fiscal and monetary policy aid.
  • Scenario #3: Longer outbreak. The threat of the virus is ongoing, and lockdowns continue throughout 2020. 

Given events since the publication of this report, scenario #3 now seems the most likely. The U.S. did lift lockdowns, but the outbreak has continued, threatening more lockdowns and other challenges for businesses. Here’s what all this means for companies in the U.S. staffing industry. 

Return-to-work anxiety

As employers struggle to find people willing to return to work, effective mentoring will become much more vital. People are reluctant to return for a variety of reasons, from the obvious threat of the virus itself to the extra unemployment benefits provided by the government. By remembering that work styles and power dynamics can shift when people work from home, employers will be better prepared to help their teams navigate this disruptive period and come out stronger. 

Interviewing and onboarding innovation

As trends shift in a pandemic economy, the entire recruitment, screening, and onboarding process is being disrupted. Going forward, chances are good that interactions with prospective employers will take place virtually, increasing demand on tools like Zoom, Hangouts, and Skype. Recruitment firms are enabling the whole process to be done remotely, which has been advantageous to clients, but these recruiters do more than simply source and place candidates. They are the industry catalysts, shaping trends and driving efforts to close skill gaps. Utilizing them to reshape onboarding programs and processes will be a critical part of the future of staffing. 

Video intros, conference calls, and step-by-step guides

LinkedIn’s Video Intro helps recruiters evaluate a candidate’s communication and soft skills prior to the first interview, and platforms such as eTeki help prioritize candidates by giving recruiters access to pre-recorded video sessions. Firms have tools for adapting to virtual recruiting and finding high-quality candidates faster than ever. More innovation is inevitable as recruiters look to deliver increasingly excellent candidate experiences and find the best talent for their clients even more quickly.

Remote working, technology awareness, and economic realities

The staffing industry has long relied on data and technology to advise clients on their workforce needs, but, as mentioned before, moving to 100% virtual workforces has created new challenges. Recruiters have since proved that they can maintain productivity levels—and continue playing a vital role in powering businesses and economies by helping people build their careers—but the economic reality is that firms can offer people more flexible ways to work, which is what today’s workers want. 

So how can you embrace this change early? By staying agile and flexible, implementing effective mentoring programs, and embracing tools that enable innovation and help your business become more data literate. By proactively encouraging this kind of workforce development, even during a pandemic, you demonstrate a commitment to employees’ professional growth and make a clear investment in their future.

Bengi Lynch
Director of Digital Marketing

Bengi has over 10 years of experience in technology consulting and product development in technology, telco, and ecommerce across Europe and the United States. She has been involved in developing big data, M2M/beacon technology, RPA, and various web application projects ranging from social media analytics, ecommerce, and social CRM. Contact her at for inquiries on your next web application project.