Recruitment firms remain upbeat about longer term economy

recruitmentResearch conducted by Bullhorn, suggests that recruiting professionals are optimistic about COVID-19’s future economic impact. According to Bullhorn’s Global Recruitment Insights and Data (GRID) COVID-19 Impact Survey, only two percent predict a sustained depression that extends past 2021, and more than half (56 percent) expect the economy to improve by the end of the year.

Almost a third (30 percent) of staffing and recruiting professionals report that their businesses are doing better or as well as they were this time last year. Healthcare and IT staffing agencies were the most likely to observe stable performance and the least likely to suffer dramatic losses.

Bullhorn released its annual repository of staffing industry research in January 2020, following more than a decade of annual trends reports. While the research was accurate at the time of release, the rapid macroeconomic developments precipitated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, and their resulting impact on the staffing and recruitment industry, necessitated this updated survey, which was fielded in North America and the UK in May and June of 2020.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”The impact of COVID-19 has been profound, but as always, optimism and opportunity abound amidst challenges.”[/perfectpullquote]

According to the research, more than two fifths (42 percent) say they have not reduced their internal workforce. The smallest businesses (1-10 salespeople and recruiters combined) were twice as likely (54 percent) to retain their entire team than the largest companies (28 percent). By comparison, the vast majority (82 percent) of UK businesses have laid off at least some of their workforce. While in North America, 46 percent of businesses have laid off or furloughed employees.


New priorities

The vast majority (81 percent) of recruiters said that reduction in job requests had been the biggest customer-related challenge since the beginning of COVID-19. Over half (55 percent) cited increased difficulty in winning new customers, while a fifth (21 percent) reported that clients were unable to make payments. The top challenge faced when acquiring new customers was hiring freezes (72 percent) followed by lack of budget (10 percent).

When asked what staffing professionals’ most important business priorities for the remainder of 2020 were, most focused on providing excellent client and candidate services. Over two fifths (44 percent) said improving the management of client relationships was a primary focus and more than a third said improving candidate experience (36 percent) was a priority. With regards to internal processes, more than a third said they’re focused on optimising remote work (34 percent) and controlling spend (34 percent). Only a fifth (22 percent) said that they are reassessing their business model.

Nearly two thirds (64 percent) expect remote jobs to be more common post-COVID-19 and more than half (57 percent) expect contactless recruiting to become more prevalent. Agencies are responding to the new landscape by investing in and utilising recruitment technology. Video conferencing saw a near-universal (91 percent) rise in adoption. Other tools included VoIP (25 percent) and SMS (24 percent), reflecting a new emphasis on flexible modes of communication.

More than a quarter of agencies (27 percent) have ramped up their use of analytics since the rise of COVID-19, presumably to understand their performance better and make smart decisions about where to invest future resources. Respondents also reported an increase in the use of automation and AI (16 percent) in recruitment. With a thinner margin for error than in the past, automating time-consuming manual tasks and freeing up time and resources has never been more critical, the report concludes.