March 01, 2018

What are Your Priorities?

It seems like business is looking good for the staffing industry this year. Bullhorn’s recent report, “2018 North American Staffing & Recruiting Trends Report”, found that 75% of staffing and recruiting firms anticipate an increase in revenue in 2018 as compared to the previous year. The report revealed that professionals in the industry remain optimistic in 2018, despite emerging and increasing concerns related to automation, digital staffing platforms, politics and macroeconomics.

While staffing professionals are expecting big things for 2018, their expectations are grounded compared to previous years; in 2017, 80% of respondents expected to see their revenue increase. Other predictions include:

  • 62% think billable hours will increase (vs. 69% in 2017)
  • 70% expect increased hiring needs (vs. 69% in 2017)
  • 55% predict that bill rates and margins would stay fat or decease

A possible explanation for the slight dip is lower confidence in the current economy and business climate. The report showed that 68% of respondents are very or somewhat concerned about the rate of economic growth, and over half of the respondents are concerned about healthcare policies and inflation.

Priorities for Staffing Firms

The report also looked at the priorities for staffing firms in 2018. Overall, the big three prevailed – revenue, profitability, and candidate acquisition. Staffing firms identified their top three priorities as:

1)       Increasing profitability

2)       Driving top-line revenue growth

3)       Improving candidate sourcing

The following five priorities covered operational strategies, and included:

  • Improving the management of client relationships
  • Expanding into new markets
  • Automating and accelerating recruiting and placement processes
  • Engaging candidates and improving the candidate experience
  • Increasing employment brand development and marketing

Staffing Firm Priorities for 2018


Source: Bullhorn


Overall, the top challenges for staffing firms remain the same. A skills deficit is once-again the top-ranked challenge this year, with 41% listing it as the number one position and 64% in the top three. This challenge is particularly felt in larger firms, with 52% of enterprise firms considering it their single biggest challenge, compared to 32% of small firms.

Top Industry Challenges for 2018

Source: Bullhorn


Additional Findings

Other significant findings from the report include:

Increase in Tech Spending: Staffing firms are increasing their technology investments this year. The survey found that 52% of firms anticipate increasing their spend in 2018, compared to 40% in 201

Less Interest in Market Expansion: While 49% of firms says that their operating budget will increase in 2018, only 26^ of firms consider new market growth to be a top priority, and only 28% expect to increase their number of offices.

Partnership with Digital Staffing Platforms: The rise of digital staffing platforms such as Upwork and Shiftgig have raised concerns about a new and more agile source of direct competition. However, many staffing firms are receptive to working in partnership with such platforms – 21% say that digital platforms could help their business compared to 16% who think they could hurt it (rest are unsure). And among sales teams, 29% express a positive opinion of digital staffing platforms, viewing that as a leverageable source of low-cost talent.

Automation: Automation remains a priority and a challenge for firms in 2018 with 23% ranking it as a top priority and 36% as a top challenge. Many firms admit to a complete lack of automation to manage common client and candidate-facing tasks.

SMS Messaging: SMS messaging is the fastest growing communication channel this year, with 69% of firms expecting their usage to increase.