Will digital disruption change temporary recruitment for the better?

Digital platforms are now starting to pop up that promise to transform the currently inefficient and costly temporary recruitment process. But are they really as good for the sector as they claim, asks TempRocket’s Andrew Johnston?

Finally it seems that proper digital disruption is coming to the temporary recruitment sector – and not a moment too soon. For too long hirers and contractors have had to deal with a frustratingly inefficient and expensive model, with little opportunity to connect directly with each other. This made the process of finding temporary staff heavily reliant on agencies.

The problem is that with so many agencies in the marketplace, it’s difficult to know which one to choose? Often both hirers and contractors register with several, then try to keep tabs on them all. Beyond the time and effort this takes, which delays the whole process, hirers are also charged a significant amount for the service. In particular the public sector tends to get stung financially, with schools and hospitals frequently having to pay a premium – which is ultimately passed on to the taxpayer.

Temps are the lifeblood of the public sector, especially in education and healthcare, as well as in the private sector in industries such as construction, retail and catering. Temporary workers can also provide the manpower on a short term basis to enable small and medium-sized businesses to grow. That’s why it was great to hear late last year about the launch of a new online temporary recruitment platform called Adia.

Its mission to revolutionise temporary recruitment by matching the demand and supply of talent more effectively and managing that talent more efficiently is certainly to be celebrated. The platform’s algorithm matches jobs to workers based on skills, level of experience, and proximity to the place of work as well as the job seeker’s real-time availability. The user can hire new staff, plan shifts, issue contracts and approve timesheets from this platform, all in real-time. Currently Adia is only covering the catering and events sectors, but promises to expand into other industries soon.

So far, so good. In fact it sounds like the kind of platform hirers and contractors have been waiting for. Agencies, however, are unlikely to be so pleased, as Adia essentially cuts them out of the temporary recruitment process. It’s true that they do charge for the service they offer, but at the same time they provide a personal service that suits many employers. So it’s doubtful they’ll all suddenly be going out of business. But the question is why Adia doesn’t incorporate agencies into its platform, giving hirers and contractors the choice of a range of agencies in one place as well as candidates and employers.

Perhaps this is because Adia is owned by one of the biggest recruitment agency businesses in the world – the Adecco Group. Perhaps this gives yet more reason for agencies to be quaking in their boots a little. But this fact also raises other important questions. Would a single major company taking over temporary recruitment actually be a good thing? Would it not lack a certain amount of independence? Would it not be able to wield a little too much influence?

I’m sure if asked, Adia would say there is nothing to worry about; that it has no plans to take over the sector and only wants to make it more efficient, while saving hirers and contractors time and money. However, since Adia’s launch there have been murmurings about other independent online temporary recruitment platforms on the horizon, that have no affiliation with an existing recruitment company and that also embrace agencies as a key part of the mix, allowing them to use the platform to extend their reach. In fact, one has launched and there are undoubtedly others on the way.

Yes, temporary recruitment does deserve an online platform that brings all parties together to streamline the hiring and job-finding process. But doesn’t it also deserve a platform that’s truly independent and embraces all elements of the sector?

Andrew Johnston is founder of TempRocket.