When it comes to staffing firm technology, one size does not fit all.

Business strategy, company size, markets, client needs and available talent all contribute to determining whether a particular technology is the right fit for a particular staffing firm. Further complicating matters, a technology’s use case often differs across staffing segments.

However, a close look at some of the newest and most innovative technologies can help companies determine what might work best.

Staffing Industry Analysts’ Emerging Technology in Industrial Staffing Operations report provides a high-level overview of six technologies, tailored to industrial staffing firms, discussing uses, adoption trends and business impacts where possible. The report covers six areas: staffing platforms, texting/emailing technology, recruitment chatbots, artificial intelligence, earned wage access and virtual reality. These were chosen based on industrial staff firm responses to SIA surveys that related to current and planned technology use, as well as those that are hot topics and likely to grow in importance for operations of industrial staffing firms. These technologies represent a mixture of ongoing shifts, new ones widely expected to disrupt business as usual and more under-the-radar developments.

This article discusses three of these technologies.

Staffing platforms. Awareness of staffing platforms is nearly universal among industrial staffing firms, with 90% familiar with them — even though only 17% have one. Many more industrial staffing firms plan to adopt a platform over the next two years, with survey results suggesting more than 50% will have one by 2025.

A prime benefit of staffing platforms is scalability. They may also support candidate engagement via built-in nudges or gamification. Competitive benefits abound. For one, staffing companies that have a platform or app reported median revenue growth of 20%, plus zero impact on expenses and staff levels.

Despite these benefits, staffing platforms are not a panacea for all firms. Survey responses suggest that the current ceiling on platform penetration of industrial staffing is around 60% of firms. About 38% of firms without platforms are familiar with them and have no intention of adopting one.

Platforms cannot serve candidates who are not technologically savvy or who lack computers or smartphones. Likewise, some candidates benefit tremendously from a human touch. Additionally, some of the benefits of platforms are not entirely unique to platforms. Other systems, such as recruitment chatbots, can also support scalability and off-hours candidate intake.

Artificial intelligence. New developments in artificial intelligence are widely expected to have far-reaching consequences, including extreme disruption to business activities. While there is a great deal of potential, the impact of generative AI remains highly speculative, and we are likely near the peak of the hype cycle for current AI technologies. We do not expect that AI will change the duties of industrial talent in the next few years, but it will provide new tools and more opportunities to automate business processes — at the cost of new and greater risks, particularly around cybersecurity, brand management and fraud.

Already documented specific uses of AI tools relevant to industrial staffing firms include automating the creation of content such as job descriptions and the use AI integrations that automate internal processes such as creating meeting minutes and task assignments. Uses being rolled out now include improvements to chatbots and candidate engagement tools. Demonstration projects suggest future applications. For example, a chatbot trained on business documents could enable staff and management to ask the company questions via the chatbot. The answers could quickly provide more complex analyses of business operations. Similarly, individual social media users’ ability to create custom AI for managing their online dating activities suggests current generation AI could dramatically lower the costs of developing search-and-match systems and staffing platforms.

Earned wage access. While not as flashy as AI and certainly simpler to implement, earned wage access may broadly impact industrial staffing firm operations. EWA enables workers to receive their pay on an accelerated schedule, often implemented as an option for daily pay. If done in-house, EWA may add stress to cash management and operational cycles.

EWA programs appear to improve talent retention, productivity and well-being, likely by reducing personal cash flow issues and the need for payday loans. EWA may be particularly impactful for industrial talent, as demographics roughly align with workers who use payday lending.

Currently, EWA programs are a competitive advantage in securing talent. EWA may be most enticing for workers taking short-duration or single-shift assignments. However, if talent scarcity remains an ongoing challenge, given the relative ease of implementing an EWA program, EWA offerings may soon become “table stakes” in the proverbial war for talent.

For additional details on these and the other technologies, please read the full Emerging Technology in Industrial Staffing Operations report. Where SIA has additional published materials on a technology, links to the most recent applicable report for that technology will be available. Other reports of interest to staffing firms considering their use of technology or reviewing their technology strategy include the Global Back Office Software Landscape, the Global Front Office Software Landscape and the Staffing Company Tech Stack.