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2020 HR Challenges and Opportunities

February 19, 2020


February 19, 2020

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The Changing Face of HR Services

As more and more corporate clients turned to recruitment and staffing providers during 2019, in the wake of record-setting settlements in a host of HR-related litigations, rather than performing these services in-house, it is clear that the face of HR service providers is changing.

We are no longer just tasked with providing our clients with highly qualified candidates for their critical positions. Now we also must ensure that we safeguard our clients from negligent hiring practices and provide them with a good return on their investment in our services. This is a great moment to look ahead at the opportunities and challenges that will be facing HR professionals in 2020.

What Does the Revenue Projection Tell Us?

According to a recent survey of over 2,000 global staffing and recruitment professionals conducted by Bullhorn, a full 71% of those surveyed expected their business, regardless of size, to experience increased revenue in 2020. Even so, this revenue projection is down by 8% from 2019 projections, likely due to economic uncertainty and the political upheaval of the U. S. election cycle that is currently underway.

What Investments & Operations Changes Will Need To Be Made?

While operating under essentially the same or slightly increased budget levels as in 2019, 77% of HR professionals surveyed expect that they are going to be tasked with making an increased number of temporary placements, which may tax already sparse labor sources. Another 55% expect that they will need to make increased investments in technological advances just to keep up with the competition, as HR software is rapidly evolving. Meanwhile, 47% of respondents expect to be investing in the re-skilling of their workforce to compensate for the shortage of vital skills.


77% of HR professionals surveyed expect to be tasked with making an increased number of temporary placements


55% of HR professionals surveyed expect to be making increased investments in technological advances


47% of HR professionals expect to be investing in the re-skilling of their workforce to compensate for the shortage of vital skills

What Are the Recruitment & Staffing Priorities in 2020?

2020 is poised to become the “Year of the Relationship,” when it comes to the evolving face of HR service providers. Instead of focusing on running massive quantities of candidates through a recruitment screening and evaluation process, HR service providers are taking a more hands-on approach.

What Recruitment & Staffing Challenges Must Businesses Face?

A full 43% of the Bullhorn survey respondents said their primary focus would be on candidate acquisition, with another 27% listing candidate engagement as their top priority. The attraction and nurturing of candidates with the necessary skills will be critical in light of the skills shortage.

In addition to wooing candidates, 34% of HR professionals are going to invest the bulk of their time developing relationships with their clients, determining their staffing requirements and working closely with in-house HR personnel to meet their clients’ needs. An interesting side note is that social recruiting efforts have fallen to ninth place in top recruiting priorities among survey respondents, after all the hype of the past few years.

What About Hiring Challenges?

This is the area where HR service providers may really be put to the test in 2020 in finding a sufficient number of candidates with critical skills. 77% of the Bullhorn survey respondents identified this skill shortage as their number one challenge, with 55% remarking that the skills shortage was worse than just five years ago.

Colleges and technical schools are not providing a pool of qualified candidates quickly enough to meet the demand. Another possible complication may be that the skills that are needed are not the skills being taught. It may be time for employers to return to the use of apprenticeships and internships, where they can teach the precise skills they need.

There are two additional hiring challenges that HR service providers face. According to 44% of the survey respondents, accelerating pay increases was their primary challenge, while 30% cited high churn rates as their primary challenge. The use of apprenticeships or internships can have a positive impact on both of these challenges.

Internships are normally progressive in nature. When a candidate reaches a certain level of knowledge, skill, ability, and on-the-job competency, they are promoted to the next level and given a pay raise. This normally happens in three to four yearly increments, taking an entry-level candidate up through the ranks to a journeyman position, standing at the foot of entry into junior management positions. Internships also give you complete control over your churn rates, as you decide how quickly to move your interns through the pipeline.

What Operational Challenges Must Businesses Face?

Not only must HR service providers work hard to provide a competitive level of service to their clients, but they also must keep their own businesses operating on the cutting edge in order to maximize their own profits and grow their client base.

What Is Digital Transformation & How Do Businesses Adapt It?

Many types of businesses are embracing digital transformation, which is the adoption of, the realignment with, or the investment in the latest technology or business models that are designed to engage your digital customers at every possible point in your customer’s experience of interacting with your company. Of the Bullhorn survey respondents, 55% cited the adoption of digital transformation as both their highest priority and biggest challenge.

What Sort of Competition Do Freelancing Platforms Create?

In today’s ever-increasing “gig economy,” independent contractors are directly marketing their skills and services on various freelancing platforms, and 31% of the survey respondents mentioned this as their primary operational challenge. The direct interaction of clients with freelancers has created a market where prices and work values are set independent from the regular market. Because it operates as an independent enterprise, this labor pool is largely unavailable to mainstream recruiters.

How Will Globalization Effect the Future of Staffing & Recruiting?

Today’s talent pools are a moving target. Technology has made the world a very small space, with instantaneous video- and tele-conferencing, reliable and frequent international transportation, and remote work sites becoming more and more the norm than the exception to the rule. 

Now, the best candidate for the job may live on the other side of the world, not in the cubicle outside your door. So, how do you take advantage of a global labor pool? The Bullhorn survey respondents looked at it from both angles, with 67% viewing it as an opportunity and 18% viewing it as a challenge.

No matter which side of the hiring line you find yourself on, it helps if you understand the opportunities and challenges facing you in 2020. Stay tuned for updates on the evolving world of staffing and recruiting.

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