Personnel service providers are again stepping up their digitization efforts

In the past year, the number of personnel service providers pursuing a digital transformation strategy has risen sharply. Globally, 84 percent of staffing agencies said they were pursuing a digital transformation strategy.

In the previous year, only 43 percent of the personnel service providers had such a strategy, in 2019 only 25 percent. This means that the measures for digital transformation in the industry have increased by a full 236 percent within two years.

These are the results of the 13th annual global recruiting trends study by Bullhorn, for which more than 4,000 personnel service providers were surveyed in autumn 2021, 456 of them from the DACH region. With the study, Bullhorn shows the most important trends, insights and challenges for the coming months in the recruiting industry.

Personnel services industry experiences enormous upswing after a year of crisis

2020 was a historically difficult year for the industry globally, with 2 out of 5 companies reporting a drop in sales compared to the previous year. For most personnel service providers, however, 2021 brought an enormous upswing. 3 in 5 of those surveyed reported an increase in sales, while only 1 in 7 companies reported losses compared to 2020.

Companies specializing in IT/tech customers and those serving multiple industries reported the strongest growth for 2021, with 68 percent of respondents across both groups reporting year-over-year revenue growth. At the other end of the spectrum are the companies specializing in consumer goods. Here, only half of those surveyed indicated an increase in sales compared to 2020.

The most important results for the DACH region

Sales and Outlook

In the DACH region, the market also recovered in 2021. More than half of the study participants reported an increase in sales, while only 15 percent reported a decrease in their annual sales. Based on these figures, 72 percent of those surveyed in the DACH region are positive about the year 2022 despite major hurdles and changes:

Shortage of skilled workers – the biggest challenge in 2022

After a one-year break due to the pandemic, the shortage of skilled workers is again the biggest challenge for personnel service providers this year, both globally and in the DACH region. Balancing the imbalance between vacancies and available candidates is one of the main tasks for recruiters.

The retraining and further training of employees is one way of counteracting the developments. Personnel service providers in the German-speaking markets will invest specifically in this area: almost 20 percent of the companies confirm that the retraining and further training of employees is a top priority for them, compared to only 15 percent worldwide. In addition to retraining and further education, the automation of the sourcing process also has high priority, with only every third company in the DACH region currently using a corresponding solution. With a view to the results on the subject of digitization, however, this could change soon.

Automation and digital transformation more important than customer acquisition for the first time

Compared to the last decade, there is a clear trend reversal in priorities in the DACH region this year. For years, HR service providers concentrated almost exclusively on recruiting candidates and customer acquisition and retention. While talent acquisition remains the top priority for staffing firms, automation and digital transformation are taking second place for the first time. Employer branding and optimizing the candidate experience are in third and fourth place. After more than 10 years at the top, customer acquisition is no longer one of the top three priorities.

Automation and digital transformation have made a big leap, climbing from #5 last year to #2 in 2021. As a result, staffing firms are more likely to invest in technology in 2022 (48%) than increase their budget for operational spending (42%). ).

Marek Kraus, Managing Director EMEA Enterprise Sales at Bullhorn: “4 out of 5 personnel service providers in the DACH region now have a digitization strategy. This is a very pleasing development, especially in view of the shortage of skilled workers and increasing competition. Staffing companies should now use the momentum from 2021 and further expand their efforts. If they want to attract talent and clients in a highly competitive environment, staffing companies must rely on automation and cutting-edge technology to meet the demands of the market. It is extremely positive that personnel service providers in the DACH region recognize and seize the enormous opportunities of digital transformation.”