Published by Eric Gregg - 10/19/22

What Staffing Buyers Want: How Firms Can Best Serve Clients During a Labor Shortage

Recent labor shortages seem to have touched every business in America, from large corporations to small-town, family-run businesses. And these companies are leaning heavily on staffing firms to find talent thanks to a job market tilted in candidates’ favor. But staffing firms are dealing with the same challenging circumstances. 

As firms struggle to find, recruit, and hire workers of all kinds for companies of all types, they must look for additional ways to serve and guide their clients. But what do staffing buyers most need right now? What are their frustrations? What would make them leave one firm to try another?

About the Study

We surveyed 620+ hiring managers in the course of 3 weeks to understand what drives their buying decisions. The survey results make up the most robust and diverse buyer study in the marketplace. The respondent data consists of a good mix of strategy utilizers who spend more versus those who are opportunistic who need support temporarily or for a specific aspect of their business. More of the respondent data includes: 

  • 68% are at organizations with 250 employees or more
  • 54% are the lead contact at their company for their staffing firm
  • Average age: 42
  • Top industries represented: professional services, manufacturing, software/technology, healthcare, and retail

What Staffing Clients Want: 2022 Staffing Buyer Trends

To explore and share our survey findings, our CEO Eric Gregg hosted a webinar with guest Dave Kollmorgen, Sales Director for CareerBuilder’s staffing and recruiting group. They discussed today’s employment market and the state of the staffing industry before getting into the survey results. Below are some highlights of what they covered.

Key takeaways from our staffing buyer survey:

  • More than 60% of companies expect to increase their spend with staffing firms over the next 12 months. They also plan to hire more freelancers and independent contractors (48%) and increase spend with agencies (40%). Here are the top reasons as to why they plan to increase their spend.
staffing firm chart on why they use staffing firms
  • Beyond continuing to trust staffing firms for finding talent, many buyers expressed the desire to receive guidance and advice from their staffing firms on how to be competitive while hiring. Nearly 9 in 10 clients believe firms are good at keeping up with new workforce trends but then only 50% of staffing firm detractors say this is true. (Watch the webinar to get more details on exactly how clients want help and which topics they feel firms know better than they do.)
  • In terms of staffing credibility, buyers perceive staffing firms to have more credibility in the following areas: 
    • Access to candidates with specialized skills
    • Speed to source potential candidates
    • Recruiting expertise 
  • They perceive staffing firms to have less credibility when it comes to cost effectiveness and finding the ideal fit for their culture. 
  • Staffing firms can stand out to their clients by bringing educated information and data on pay wages, flexibility, etc. and by being consultative.
  • Buyers want help hiring diverse candidates. Overall, buyer perception of DEI in the staffing industry is good and this matters to hiring managers. Most agree that staffing firms should prioritize DEI initiatives and help them hire more diverse candidates, and many think that large staffing firms are more likely to be ahead of others in terms of implementing DEI initiatives in recruiting practices.
  • Hiring managers who feel their primary firm is ahead of others in DEI have a 65% NPS, yet those who feel their primary firm is behind in DEI have a 9% NPS.
staffing firm chart on DEI initiatives
  • Most staffing clients stick with a firm for around three years. When they switch, it’s typically due to high turnover numbers. 
  • The most important factor to staffing buyers during the vetting process is a firm’s responsiveness to their questions and the overall experience they have with the firm. They also care about information that demonstrates low risk in hiring the firm. Think testimonials and case studies from similar clients, referrals that tout service quality, and positive online ratings and reviews.
  • More than 80% of staffing buyers believe that hiring remote workers through staffing firms gives them access to a larger talent pool. But they want and need help from their staffing partners to make these successful hires, including assimilating and training temporary remote talent.
  • When buyers can’t offer remote roles, they want guidance on how to offer other flexible work options and which ones tend to attract and retain more candidates in their field. 
  • Overall, how satisfied are hiring managers? In 2022, staffing firm client NPS is at 31% (46% promoters and 15% detractors). In 2019, the NPS dropped to -2% (which probably isn’t too surprising) and has dramatically increased in the last 3 years.

As a staffing firm, you can’t escape the labor shortage. Yet, finding workers is your bread and butter. But there’s a silver lining: This also makes staffing companies the foremost experts on helping clients with more than just hiring. As you can see from the above takeaways, staffing buyers want guidance from their staffing partners as much as they want talent. And this is where your company can find insights on how to both market your services and make up for any current challenges in finding talent for your clients.

Watch the Full Webinar on 2022 Staffing Buyer Trends

Want to learn more about buyer loyalty, the difference between buyer preferences by generation, or what buyers want to know about offering flexible work? Watch our full webinar on demand to learn from Eric and Dave as they dive deeper into each portion of the survey findings.

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