The Future of Staffing: Robotic Process Automation

The numbers don’t lie. Robotic process automation (RPA) is transforming recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) and the entire staffing industry. According to Staffing Industry Analysts research, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of RPA to support remote work. 2020 represented the first year where RPO organizations adopted RPA at scale.1 So, what does this wide-scale adoption mean for staffing? These technologies have massive implications for recruitment processes. From automated candidate matching to programmatic advertising, RPA will continue to reshape staffing and organizations. Those that fail to adapt, run the risk of falling behind the competitive curve.

Defining Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

McKinsey research indicates that RPA offers a return on investment of up to 30-200 percent in its first year, but what do these technologies entail? According to Leslie Willcocks, Professor of Technology, Work, and Globalization at the London School of Economics, RPA “takes the robot out of the human.”2 Essentially, RPA’s main application is eliminating routine, repetitive tasks that previously required human labor, freeing up valuable human capital. Willcocks defines four significant types of RPA:

  1. Highly-specialized software for specific processes (such as accounting or finance)
  2. Web-scraping data collection programs
  3. Self-development kits for specialist programmers to customize to their organizations
  4. Scalable, reusable, enterprise-safe software2

The key to RPA is that it does not require intensive IT labor to implement and business-operations professions can quickly acquire the skills to manage the programs.

The Benefits of RPA

Embracing RPA produces clear gains in ROI, but its implications go further than short-term financial improvement. For tightly-regulated sectors like banking and insurance, automation provides a less expensive, faster way to address compliance. RPA can also create better customer service by freeing up staff to handle complex customer inquiries.

Although many workers fear that automation will render their labor obsolete, employees find RPA a welcome addition to their organizations. Rather than replacing human labor, RPA takes over tedious, repetitive tasks and lets employees dedicate their time to more rewarding work. In one example, before RPA, it took an insurer two days to process 500 premium advice notes. The company was able to reduce this process to just 30 minutes after adopting RPA.2 Automation also reduces bureaucratic workload and alleviates organizational stress, benefiting the entire company from senior managers to front line employees.

Automation and the Staffing Industry

Although staffing and recruiting require a human touch, research suggests that automation and AI will play a vital role in the future of the staffing industry. Experts believe that recruitment automation will support, rather than replace, human recruiters.

One primary application of automation in staffing is resume screening, which remains the most time-consuming aspect of recruitment. With up to 88 percent of submitted resumes unqualified for the job opening, recruiters waste an average of 23 hours sifting through resumes for a single hire.3 New AI-based screening software can learn job requirements to identify and rank qualified candidates without human input by analyzing experience and skills. This software allows recruiters to redirect their resources to other priorities, such as getting to know candidates through conversation.

Another critical aspect of recruitment automation is the use of chatbots to improve the candidate experience by keeping job seekers updated throughout the application process. Automation enables recruiters to keep applicants in-the-know, in real-time, without taking away from other tasks.

Finally, recruitment automation can supplement a recruiter’s interview capabilities by analyzing candidate interviews for traits like word choice and speech patterns to predict a fit for a role. This process provides more data on whether a candidate will be a good match for a job requirement or organizational culture. By eliminating administrative tasks, recruitment automation frees up recruiters allowing them to focus their time with the human aspect of their work; connecting with and engaging candidates.

Continued Growth is on the Horizon

Firms across a wide range of industries are rapidly adopting RPA and AI-driven technologies to improve efficiency, speed, and productivity. RPA offers these improvements with an implementation time of about three months versus nine months for traditional IT solutions.2 Research by Gartner Inc. estimates that RPA software revenue will grow by 29.5 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, and projects the RPA market to increase by double-digits through 2024.4 With projections indicating that 90 percent of large-scale organizations globally will adopt a form of RPA by 2022, firms that fail to take advantage of these technologies now face competitive implications in the near future.

When properly executed, automation has the potential to dramatically enhance recruitment and staffing by eliminating repetitive processes and freeing up labor for more essential tasks. The key to planning for the successful implementation of an RPA strategy is having the right talent in place, now and in the future. AllSTEM has the expertise to support your enterprise goals with the highly skilled science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) candidates you need to thrive in an increasingly complex marketplace. To find out more, visit AllSTEM at: https://www.allstemconnections.com.

  1. https://www2.staffingindustry.com/site_member/Research/Research-Reports/Americas/RPO-Global-Landscape-Summary-2020
  2. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/the-next-acronym-you-need-to-know-about-rpa
  3. https://ideal.com/3-ways-recruitment-automation-will-change-recruiting-forever/
  4. https://www2.staffingindustry.com/site_member/Editorial/Daily-News/Robotic-process-automation-revenue-to-increase-nearly-20-next-year-55212

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