Many of us leaved 2020 without too many regrets and welcomed 2021 with many hopes, both personally and professionally. However, if we observe the major trends for temporary and permanent staffing agencies in the coming year, we quickly realize that 2020 has left its mark. So, “Bye Bye 2020?” Not quite…


The last year have marked the people, but also the practices at work. And while it is now behind us, it still influences the predictions that can be made as we look to the year ahead. On the professional level in particular, the events of 2020 are inseparable from the trends that we see emerging when we try to paint a picture of what 2021 will be like.


I have thus selected 8 salient points that will be at the heart of the concerns of temporary and permanent staffing agencies in the year to come. Through the legacies of the year that we have just passed through, we will attempt to glimpse the tracks of what staffing agencies will have to watch out for this year.


The 8 trends to watch in 2021 for permanent and temporary employment agencies.


1. Teleworking: a new reality.


Confinement linked to the coronavirus has resulted in the generalization of this trend and the birth of new practices within companies. This is a reality that will survive the pandemic: the investments made to allow remote working, as well as the habituation to this new form of work organization make it a practice that is set to continue.


In fact, according to a survey conducted in August by ADP Canada, 6 out of 10 Quebecers say they would prefer to telework at least three days a week. At the same time, a report from the Institut de la statistique du Quebec (Link in french only) indicated that nearly one in four businesses “expects to let 10% or more of its workforce telework after the pandemic”.


2. Virtual recruiting is to stay.


As a collateral aspect of teleworking, virtual recruiting has also seen a leap over the past year. If it already existed, the confinement periods have dubbed this practice, to such an extent that a LinkedIn survey conducted in July 2020 among 1,518 human resources professionals, talent acquisitions as well as temporary and permanent recruitment agencies indicates that 80 % of them predict that virtual recruitment will continue even after the pandemic period. They are even 7 out of 10 specialists to think that virtual recruitment will become the new normal.


This reality will require employment agencies to acquire cutting-edge technologies to remain efficient and, perhaps, to train in these new practices.


3. The challenges of training.


Training employees in new practices or new software is a crucial step in adapting an employment agency to a new reality. Government programs promoting training have thus flourished and have enabled companies to offer their employees to take online courses to deepen certain practices or develop new skills. The Government of Québec in particular, through Emploi Québec, grants training subsidies of up to 50% when they meet three criteria:


  • Help preserve employment within the company
  • Allow to increase employee performance
  • Be transferable to other staff members to increase mobility within the company.

The continuous training of employees has also resolved to go digital. Webinars and online classes have logically increased with the pandemic, and trainers are already used to these online sessions, mostly punctuated with “Can you hear me?” Or the famous “do you see my screen?“.


Have you experienced significant staff turnover recently ? Why not take the opportunity to offer them training in the use of PRIM Logix software ?


4. Greater consideration of diversity.


The issues related to inclusion and the recognition of diversity are as much a social issue as they are topical. Considering the challenges of DEI (for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) in the workplace will therefore not only be, in 2021, the right thing to do, but also a real strategy. Indeed, the benefits of diversity within a company are measured both on well-being at work and on the contributions of each employee in terms of culture and practices.


However, if only one in three Quebecers indicates that “diversity and inclusion are visible on the labor market in Quebec” according to a survey conducted in the fall by the Maru / Blue Institute for ADP, one in two young Canadians is says “more loyal to an organization that takes a public stand in favor of diversity and inclusion”.


Demographic studies therefore indicate that the gradual arrival of what we call Generation Z into the labor market will have an impact on it. Companies, including temporary and permanent staffing agencies, have every interest in taking these issues into account in their recruitment processes. The year 2020 is a relevant marker: LinkedIn revealed that corporate publications related to Covid-19 in April had a higher engagement rate of 84% compared to usual publications. More interestingly, posts about diversity had a 24% higher engagement rate than other posts.


5. The rush for “soft skills”.


This has been a reality for several years in the human resources sector: the demarcation of a candidate by his general skills, or “soft skills” even before his technical qualifications. The McKinsey firm thus already indicated as early as 2018 that “the demand for superior technological, social and emotional and cognitive skills will increase by 2030” for all industries. It is thus expected that this demand is increasing by 26% in the United States or 22% in Europe.


However, the study explains, we note that while jobs tend more and more to require the use of these transversal skills. While recruitment focused on the latter is not therefore a new trend, it will surely become even more pronounced this year and several skills will thus be highlighted as being the rare commodities that recruiters will compete for.


By analyzing the annual results of LinkedIn research related to recruitment, we can see five skills stand out by their increase in 2020:


  • Personal development (+ 44%)
  • Diversity and inclusion (+ 42%)
  • “Talent Pipelining” (+ 37%) – think of the famous #AvailableNow
  • Decision making (+ 34%)
  • Human Resources Strategy (+ 30%)


6. Social networks, a breeding ground for candidates.


The trend of recruiting through social media is certainly not going to weaken this year. These communication channels used ten years ago to post photos of our most memorable evenings – and which should precisely be the subject of a right to be forgotten – have become, in space with the blink of an eye, one of the main candidate pools for recruiters. By 2019, recruiting through social media had become one of the ten most effective recruiting practices in North America.


Since then, the fever has not abated: 84% of companies concede to using social media to acquire new talent. In addition, according to a study conducted for Infinity Social Media and Jobcast, 94% of recruiters “use or plan to use social networks” in their practice. The same study reports that 7 in 10 recruiters plan to increase their investment in social media recruiting, showing that the trend is not about to end.


This sends a clear signal to temporary and permanent staffing agencies: if you are not active on social media, your competitor will be in your place!


7. Key business sectors.


The Covid-19 vaccination campaign has started in most countries, sometimes at a rate criticized because it is considered too slow. But health experts predict an exponential increase in the number of people vaccinated by next spring and summer, especially as the doses of available vaccines increase.


During this period, and as was the case in 2020, it is likely that the health sector will be particularly affected by recruitment and issues related to human resources management. In this context, staffing agencies specializing in the health sector will still have their cards to play.


In addition, jobs related to personal services will continue to be promising for staffing agencies, in the context of the aging population that we have known for several years.


But the Covid-19 crisis will also open new opportunities: once the hotel, entertainment and catering sectors pick up, we can guarantee that they will be the focal points of the strategy of staffing agencies. Indeed, it is a safe bet that these sectors, for which labor turnover is already traditionally high, will experience a dynamism in the wake of which temporary and permanent staffing agencies will have every interest in navigating.


8. Growing competition in the digital field.


The available tools to staffing agencies are numerous and rare are those which, at the turn of this decade, were not yet using management software as a solution for their daily activity.


However, to face the growing competition generated by the arrival on the market of placement applications, temporary and permanent staffing agencies need to be assured of unwavering support in the area of ​​technology.

The needs of traditional staffing agencies are thus renewed, to adapt to this competition. And while the main issue remains the time it takes to fill a demand, support and user experience are becoming just as crucial for agencies and their clients.


A trend is gradually emerging, both in America and Europe: the use of “blockchain” technology. This technology, originally from the monitoring of cryptocurrencies, makes it easier to take references and standardize the skills of candidates. While its use is still limited, we can expect the practice to expand even further in the coming months. So much so that I will not fail to talk to you about it again shortly, by developing the subject in a future article.


Until then, to complete this exploration of the trends to watch and to start the year on a positive note, I extend my best wishes to you for success and development, both personally and professionally.


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