Digital adoption in the industrial staffing industry: gig economy recap.

October 17, 2023

On paper, the industrial staffing industry and its world of shift-based work lends itself perfectly to platform models. Many of its processes are ripe for automation, the data insights are invaluable for staffing firms, and today’s workers are demanding an easier, better way to work.

However, in reality, industry adoption of platforms hasn’t exactly reached critical mass. The latest Staffing Industry Analysts research indicates that 48% of industrial staffing firms surveyed do not intend to implement staffing/talent platforms.

JoinedUp by Beeline’s Kathy Gans joined other panelists to tackle this topic earlier this month at Staffing Industry Analysts’ 2023 Collaboration in the gig economy conference. Their session, “Innovation in Shift Work and Industrial Staffing Platforms,” explored what’s behind this plateau of tech adoption in the industrial staffing industry.


Barriers to adoption in the industrial staffing industry

The general mindset of those against automation is that it will make work less human. It’s not difficult to see why many recruiters see this as problematic in the world of staffing, where relationships are at the center of it all. Billy Milam from Employbridge ( supply chain staffing company) talked about how introducing a technology platform will require staffing firms to redefine what the worker-recruiter relationship means, how they engage, and what new value recruiters can bring.

Another barrier is the way the industry operates. Industrial staffing in particular is hyper-local, or, as Jason Radisson from Movo (AI-powered HR platform) said, more “CVS (pharmacy retail corporation) than Amazon.” Consumers still largely prefer to purchase prescriptions in person from their local pharmacy vs. online, and that same mindset exists among industrial workers and clients when it comes to employment.

That local mindset extends to how a firm operates. When there’s little consistency, a widespread change can be hard to sell. Many industrial staffing firms have invested in different tools at the market or even branch level, and interconnectivity is a barrier, said Gans.

By far, the topic that came up the most was change management. While the panelists acknowledged that it may seem obvious, change management has been – and will continue to be – THE main barrier to digital adoption.

Internally selling a tech-enabled approach isn’t easy. Milam brought up the fact that many recruiters aren’t ready to adapt their practices, nor do they trust a platform.

The hesitation comes from an honest place. Gans, who built her career in the staffing industry before her role at JoinedUp, explained how many firms build their brand around the way they do business. Any change to their processes, and they fear that reputation could be in danger.

Novo Constare from Indeed (worldwide employment website) talked about the overarching change management challenge that firms have: there’s no one way forward. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. The journey looks a bit different for each firm, depending on how their team operates, what their needs are, and what features and functionality they choose to implement.


The can’t-ignore benefits of digital platforms

Automation is a gamechanger when it comes to the typical processes that both take up recruiters’ time and serve as how staffing firm performance is measured. In JoinedUp’s case, the platform typically saves about 12 hours of time per recruiter, per week, and makes them 38% more efficient.

These time and efficiency improvements result in significant client benefits. Just one stat to consider: using auto-allocation algorithms, JoinedUp reduces time-to-fill by 99%.

Gans and Constare shared how their platforms are helping clients predict no-shows by comparing their data to external sources such as labor and weather data. They’re helping to prevent no-shows, too, through automated push notifications that remind workers when their shift starts.

Constare shared that this tactic allowed one client to reduce no-shows from 10% to just 1.5%. On average, JoinedUp allows clients to reduce no-shows by 78%.

Capturing all of this data over time allows staffing firms to see trends at the client level, site level, or even by different worker demographics. While this data can’t change the past, it can improve future outcomes.

Or, in JoinedUp’s case, data can provide instant insights. Real-time visibility is what sets JoinedUp apart from other technology. Data becomes a leading vs. lagging indicator, allowing customers to react instantly, adjust labor requirements, and prevent issues like overspending.

Talent platforms offer important benefits for workers as well. The most obvious and immediate benefit is increased speed and accuracy when it comes to getting placed – and paid. Automating payroll through JoinedUp increases accuracy by 87%.

Radisson talked about the importance of using data to help individuals with their career planning.

Platforms can be used to track the career progression of hundreds of warehouse workers or nurses over time, for example. With that data, you can begin to model ideal career paths, get targeted with upskilling and training, and create more “stickiness” with workers overall.

Staffing firms win, too. That data can help give clarity to who is the ideal candidate for different roles in different sites, allowing for more consistent, right-fit candidates.


The time is now

One of the panelists shared that a Fortune 10 client said in just 2-3 years, every one of its entry-level employees will want access to a mobile app to make work easier. This should be a call to action for industrial staffing firms to work past their hesitation and fully enter our digital-first business world.

Staffing firms play a crucial role in people's lives everyday, and human relationships will always be at the core of the business. Automation should always be used to support, not replace, human decision making. Today's workforce platforms like JoinedUp do just that.

See what JoinedUp’s process automation tools could do for your company and how JoinedUp can support your business, talk to us.