From Remote Work to Digital Transformation, Staffing Industry in The Midst of Intense Change

Remote work is here to stay, and the talent shortage is turning into a talent crisis. Change is also coming to the staffing industry from digital transformation. Staffing Industry Analysts President Barry Asin covered these trends and more in his keynote address at Executive Forum North America in Miami Beach, Florida on March 7, 2023. 

“We’re at this moment of intense change and the biggest change, of course, is the pandemic,” Asin said. “I don’t think we fully understand all the implications of that and all the societal changes, and now we’ve got geopolitical instability, the war in Ukraine and beyond.” 

Here’s what Asin had to say: 

Talent shortage 

The US workforce has returned to pre-pandemic levels, but it lags growth in labor demand. There are 6.3 million more jobs than workers. 

But it’s Great Resignation, Asin said. It’s the Great Retirement. The labor force participation rate for adults older than 65 was 19.3% in January 2023, down from 20.7% in January 2020. 

And the talent crisis is already drawing responses from large clients of staffing services: 

  • 71% of raised pay rates 
  • 59% are allowing more contingent workers to be remote 
  • 57% are changing vendors. 

When it comes to pay increases, Asin cited data from the SIA | Magnit Rate Intelligence Initiative. For example, warehouse workers saw hourly pay rise to $18.01 this year, up 15.7% from 2020. 

When seeking workers, there’s also an increased emphasis on candidate diversity among client companies, Asin said. SIA research found that 59% have a candidate diversity program in place today and 36% plan to do so in the next two years. 

“Extreme recruiting is becoming a new normal,” Asin said. This includes offering sign-on bonuses, equity for contingent workers, increased flexibility, for example. 

Remote work 

SIA research found 47% of internal staff at staffing firms work remotely and 26% work remotely at least part of the time. Only 27% work entirely in the office. 

Among temporary workers, 61% rate remote work as highly valuable, and 20% are working remotely today. 

Remote work is in high demand from other types of workers as well, not just staffing professionals. LinkedIn data found that 50% of job applications are submitted for remote positions while only 15% of jobs listings are for remote work. 


Contingent work spend is large and growing. SIA research found that spend on contingent work increased 28% since 2019 to $1.7 trillion in 2021. A lion’s share of the spend, 57%, goes to independent contractors/self-employed workers. Temp staff represents 10% of spend. 

Healthcare is also now the largest segment in staffing with revenue of $55 billion in 2022; it’s up from a distant third in 2019. 

“Healthcare staffing is up by about five times from pre-pandemic levels,” Asin said. It’s driven by the preference of nurses as travel nurses are paid better, get more control over where they work and other benefits. 


We may be nearing the peak of the “hype cycle” for ChatGPT — the point before disillusionment sets in and users gradually realize the actual productivity benefits of the product. 

ChatGPT “is great at digesting a whole lot of information,” Asin said, adding, “It’s a black box; they can’t tell you exactly where it came from.” 

Still, it’s obvious AI such as ChatGPT will continue to improve, and it’s going to create a lot of new jobs and change existing jobs. Already, 43% of front-office vendors have some AI capability in their products. 


“It’s a new thing for most of us who have come up in the industry in the last decade or two,” Asin said. “For most western economies, it hasn’t been something that’s a recent experience.” 

The battle to temper inflation hasn’t been won yet, but Asin said it doesn’t appear to be a large problem, particularly for staffing firms that have built-in markups. 

“It’s harder if you’ve got fixed bill rates.” 

Fuente:  SIA (Staffing Industry Analysts) – Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved.
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