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Highlights from the 2019 SIA Executive Forum

From recession predictions to the impact of the human cloud, here are the most buzz-worthy topics from SIA's Executive Forum

Highlights from the 2019 SIA Executive Forum

Change, flexibility and adaptation were recurring themes at this year’s Staffing Industry Analysts Executive Forum held in Austin, TX Feb 25-28.

If you attended, you probably know that already. And if you didn’t, we’re happy to share some of our biggest takeaways, themes and buzz-worthy topics we heard at the staffing industry’s premiere executive conference.

Embrace change or get left behind

In his opening keynote, SIA’s president Barry Asin‘s message was clear—if you don’t stay ahead, you’ll get left behind.

“Our biggest threat is complacency,” he said. “The idea that this is how things have been in the past is how it will continue to be has to end. We have to be willing to embrace change.”

While he still sees perceived threats to the industry (a continued reluctance to embrace digital technology for a start), he also sees rich opportunities ahead, many of them rooted in the skills gap plaguing the hiring industry.

“In any kind of market failure where supply doesn’t meet demand, that’s where staffing fits in. We’ve got to leverage new technologies and become much more strategic. But most of all, we’ve got to develop leaders who are prepared to take us to the next level.”

As a legacy job board and long-time staffing partner that’s had to reinvent itself numerous times, we know a thing or two about staying current or being left behind. That’s why we were so excited to be able to share our latest video and search products with staffing colleagues in Austin—and even happier with the response we received.

Be prepared for a recession—or even a depression

Be prepared for a recession—or even a depression

At the SIA’s Health Summit in 2007, economist Alan Bealieau accurately predicted the recession that was to come in 2008, so all eyes and ears were on him this year.

For the next few years, he says we’re headed for a period of mostly prosperity, but at the end of the next decade, there could be financial upheaval.

“The next decade will be like another roaring 20’s,” he said. “But in 2030, we’re going to have a great depression.

“If you’re not prepared for it, it will wipe you out. If you’re a millennial, you can make a fortune from it. If you’re a Gen Xer, you can easily survive it. “

His advice to survive the coming decade (and beyond) is multifold.

First, he says, you’ve got to embrace the future of work.

“Hire as if millennials are going to control the world because they are. Then decide how you’ll fit into that world.

“You’ve got to adapt to the millennial world as you go forward, and you’ve got to educate your clients about that as well,” Beaulieu says.

To prepare for lean times, he suggests taking an inventory of your company and eliminate unneeded waste.

“Look for a basset hound in your company (something that people like, but isn’t doing anything- a person, product or vertical). Put a leash on it and walk it to the farm where it can be free once more.”

Consider training as a value add

The only way to successfully close the skills gap is through re-training and up-skilling. If employers aren’t prepared to do it, should staffing firms?

That’s a question that was asked repeatedly at Executive Forum, and as Barry Asin reminded the audience in his keynote, the current state of hiring could be a boon for staffing firms—if they’re willing to shift gears and embrace change.

“Any kind of skill shortage presents opportunities and for staffing, and that’s in upskilling and training,” he said.

There are companies already engaging in some type of training, but the question for staffing companies is, is it worth the investment if you can create huge pools of skilled workers that your clients want?

“75-375 million workers will need to switch occupations by 2028, so we’re going to need to think differently about how we train workers,” said Joanie Courtney, Chief Marketing Officer at Employbridge.

“We have training centers doing virtual reality forklift training.  For us, it’s not just finding better work life for candidates. We’re interested in upskilling the American workforce.

Decide whether to embrace the online hiring marketplace

Another area of disruption that some staffing firms are embracing is the online hiring marketplace and the human cloud.

With the uberization of some recruitment solutions, how big of an impact will online staffing have on traditional staffing firms?

“The human cloud is the fastest growing part of the talent supply chain,” said David Francis, SIA’s Research Analyst.

“It’s still one fifth the size of temp workers,” he says, “But the B2B year-over-year growth is 19%. That’s not consumer human cloud businesses like Uber, but talent suppliers like Upwork,” he adds.

While online staffing and the human cloud isn’t going to disrupt traditional staffing immediately, if it continues to grow, forward-thinking staffing companies will figure out how to integrate these non-traditional audiences and methods.

Francis says staffing firms have three options:

  • Partner with an existing online staffing firm or startup. “This is a good option if cost is a factor and a better tool might be built tomorrow,” he said.
  • Build or invest in your own sourcing tool or app. “This makes sense if there’s a competitive business model or if it’s additive to your business and you want to leapfrog to the front. It’s also a good option if you have the capital like Adecco, who acquired Vettery.”
  • Do nothing and wait. “This is a real option if you don’t think adding online marketplace is beneficial to your business model,” he said.

Job boards need to keep up with consumer expectations

On Tuesday morning, Monster’s Penny QuellerChris Cho and Jonathan Beamer had the chance to talk about the future of job boards at the Ideas in Action Breakfast.

Monster’s Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Beamer kicked off the discussion with some irreverent truths about the industry in general, starting with the state of job search.

“The job search is dumb. What does technology allow us to do today that it didn’t before? Twenty-five years, ago, we had to take it beyond the newspaper. Today we need to improve the search box.”

Chief Product Officer Chris Cho was able to share updates on one of Monster’s newest products, SearchMonster, which will allow employers to have the latest search technology, plus integration with text, email and social, all in one easy-to-use platform.

“The candidate experience is rooted in data,” he sad, “whether it’s salary, commute times, or simple things like having a street address.

“As an industry, we need to be able to take all of these things surface them, and say “come here” to the candidate.”

We were thrilled to speak at SIA’s premiere executive event, because the staffing industry is, and always will be extremely important to Monster’s success.

“A competitor of ours is leaning out of staffing,” said Penny Queller, in closing.  “But we’re leaning in, big time. We will never lean out,” she added.

Queller’s passion is Monster’s passion, and we’re committed to continuing to serve our staffing customers the best way we can.

If you’d like to start a conversation about staffing, please reach out to our GM of staffing and recruiting, Tim Robbins.