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Apples and Pears: are staffing apps the future of temporary recruitment?

Amid the constantly strengthening digital revolution, every business has to work out how technology is affecting their industry, and Mash is no different. Over the last few years, the staffing industry has seen an influx of staffing apps – where clients can book temporary staff directly via a digital tool.

Amid the constantly strengthening digital revolution, every business has to work out how technology is affecting their industry, and Mash is no different. Over the last few years, the staffing industry has seen an influx of staffing apps – where clients can book temporary staff directly via a digital tool.

Technology is a wonderful thing and businesses like Syft, Limber and Catapult offer impressive functionality. Candidates create video profiles, get vetted before acceptance (to a differing degree depending on the app) and are rated after every job. The companies do all the admin and payroll and offer customer support i.e. someone to shout at if your barman doesn’t show up. They even use language like ‘ethical alternative to the zero hours contract’.

And it’s probably also worth mentioning, they can undercut traditional staffing agencies by quite a margin.

Okay, please don’t stop reading now… 😉

On a serious note, should I be worried? In an era where budgets are constantly being reviewed and value for money is absolutely key to every client and campaign, is there a chance that our clients might move to these less expensive app-based options?

First of all, worry channelled positively is a good thing (apologies if I sound like my yoga guru). Recognising that the industry is evolving, forces us to ask questions of ourselves. What is our purpose? Our USP? Where do we fit in the marketplace? Are we ignoring technology to our peril?

From asking these questions, we’ve realised that first and foremost we are people specialists – and not just in the staff we provide, but in how we recruit, train and manage our staff, as well as how we service our clients. Our high standards in these areas mean we need experienced, proactive and well-resourced client service teams.

We also recognise that we do embrace technology, but in a way that complements our staffing provision rather than replaces it – like developing our own reporting app M+ Reports.

Secondly, we have to be prepared to lose some clients to this new style of booking staff. But that can also be a good thing, because the clients that we’ll lose don’t want or need the level of service we provide – so it frees up our time to focus on what we’re really good at.

These apps proudly explain that their way of working gives the client more control over the staff they book. Theoretically that sounds great – but choosing the right staff takes time. This might be fine if you’re a store manager needing an extra pair of hands one day, or a bar throwing a party and wanting a couple of extra bar staff. But our clients might need 100 staff for 6 weeks. And every one of them has to be experienced, committed, on brand and possess great people skills – as well as covering a hierarchy of roles.

If a client chooses to work with a staffing app, they would need to recruit internal resource to deliver all the extra work involved – which negates any saving they might make initially.

So actually, I’m not worried. These apps definitely have a role to play in our industry and I wish them well – but we offer our clients something that the digital world can never replace: a service touched entirely by human hands.

Charles 🇵🇭

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