New York, New York, so good we ate there twice!

On March 22 at The Captial Grille in the Big Apple, TALiNT Partners & Mercury presented the Power of the Possible!  

Having wined and dined with a lively and engaging group of HR and talent leaders the previous evening, it was back to the Capital Grille again to host a highly influential group of recruitment and staffing leaders to hear their views on the current market and share their perspectives on how things will evolve for the rest of the year. 

In the year when the global staffing industry smashed through the $500b barrier, it is worth reminding ourselves just how crucial a role the industry plays in helping employers find and keep the people they need, and what came across loud and clear is that challenge has never been more important or more complex. 

Ostensibly, the broad theme of our discussion was tech-related, and in particular, how we use technology to foster better relationships, not just create more efficient processes. This is especially important to our partners for the evening, Mercury. Although, as with all recruiters, the discussion took a much more wide-ranging turn. 

With the impact of remote working having a significant impact on the staffing industry, there is still a lively debate on what this is doing to productivity levels. The general view is that we won’t really have meaningful data on this until 2024 but there is a realisation now that we have to be measuring interactions in different ways, often driven by the complexity of the role that is being filled. For many standard, shift-based positions (healthcare, warehouse work and the like) the majority of engagement is often by text with little, if any, traditional phone work. Clearly for more complex hiring processes and individual roles the trusty telephone still has an important role to play. This does give rise to the potentially controversial prospect of using AI, not to monitor frequency and length of a call, but the quality and effectiveness of the consultant’s conversation! More fundamentally there is a view that, especially for top performers, traditional metrics are well past their sell by dates and a new paradigm is needed. 

And whilst using tech to build better relationships is all well and good, it is important to remember its fundamental role in protecting business assets. With cyber security insurance premiums now reaching exorbitant levels, the criticality of data protection has never been more important and increasingly candidates and clients need assurance that recruiters’ systems and data are secure. This will not diminish. 

Likewise, as state by state legislation becomes more frequent, the role of tech in supporting core processes and ensuring appropriate compliance becomes ever more important and, indeed, a prediction that we will see more consolidation between staffing firms and tech platforms was seen as pretty much inevitable. 

As we tried to sum up the trends and drivers of tech transformation, there were a couple of key themes: a lot of technology adoption will be driven by what the younger generation expect and what they will respond to (often described as ‘meeting them where they are’). Ultimately, of course, mentality matters most: the best tech won’t fix a bad consultant and human to human interaction, despite what ChatGPT might throw at us, still underpins all that we do. I’ll drink to that, in fact we all did! 

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