What is the Staffing Industry?

Staffing is a growing industry, full of opportunity and challenge. It has expanded vastly from a narrow sector known for providing “temps” to fill in for sick or vacationing workers. Today, staffing is an all-encompassing industry providing a full range of human resource services to virtually every type of business and employer across the globe. Staffing Industry Analysts estimated the global staffing market to be worth USD 498 billion (EUR 445 billion) in 2019.

The Workforce Solutions Ecosystem

Staffing Industry Analysts, a global advisor on staffing and workforce solutions, coined the term “Workforce Solutions Ecosystem” which describes the many facets of the staffing industry. It is comprised of six primary industry segments: Staffing, Process Outsourcing, Payrolling/Compliance, Direct Work Engagement, Talent Acquisition Technology, and other Workforce Solutions. 

The staffing industry is at the core of this Ecosystem.

As the industry has evolved, so has MeeDerby’s reach. We work with companies across the workforce solutions ecosystem and the people who specialize in it. Have questions about hiring in the workforce solutions ecosystem? Give us a call!


Staffing Industry Segments

Temporary Staffing

The largest segment of the industry and the most well-known is temporary staffing, a frequent source of on-demand hiring for short- and long-term assignments. Staffing Industry Analysts categorizes the following occupational verticals:

  • Office/Clerical
  • Industrial
  • Information Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Finance/Accounting
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Life Sciences
  • Clinical/Scientific
  • Marketing/Creative
  • Education

How it Works

Temporary staffing firms recruit, screen, often train and assign their employees to work at client companies on an as-needed basis. The staffing firm retains its position as employer of record and is responsible for paying the temporary employees, handling any tax, insurance and benefit requirements. Clients are charged an hourly rate for each employee.

For larger employers, staffing firms may provide an on-site manager to manage the large temporary workforce at the customer’s facility. This is referred to as vendor-on-premise (VOP). Some of these larger companies will also work with a managed service provider (MSP) that will take responsibility for managing the company’s contingent staffing buy and relationship with various staffing vendors; they may manage this process through managed service agreements, which also provide performance metrics and measurements.

Temp-to-hire staffing provides a means for employers to try an employee on-site to assess their skills and fit before committing to a full-time hire.

Executive Search

This is a smaller segment of the staffing sector, but one with significant impact. Executive search firms find full-time employees for their clients, and take responsibility for sourcing, recruiting, screening, interviewing and matching potential candidates for a client company’s full-time job openings.

Search options

  • Retained Search. Client company pays a predetermined fee for the search firm to identify and interview for executive-level positions. This model requires significant consulting time and resources to identify the right candidates. This exclusive search fee is typically paid in thirds: at the signing of the contract, upon submission of a short list of candidates and when candidate is hired.
  • Engaged Search. A search is conducted  to find qualified candidates to fill open jobs and charges a portion of the placement fee as a retainer. The balance is due once the hire is made. Engaged searches are best for higher-level positions or particularly hard-to-fill jobs that require more in-depth research and considerable resources.
  • Contingent Search. The search firm is only paid upon the successful hiring of a candidate. This “pay for performance” model provides access to top talent, but no fee until the hire is made.

Fees are typically a percentage of the candidate’s salary, although the fee schedule for retained search can be structured in a variety of ways to accommodate the client.


The Outlook: Growth in Some Segments

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought an abrupt end to a decade of sustained growth in the U.S. staffing industry, as we project a 17% overall revenue decline from $152.3B in 2019 to  $126.9B in 2020. In prior years, the staffing industry had grown – 3% in 2019 and 4% in 2018. 

Trends vary greatly depending on occupational segment and sector, with professional segments faring better than commercial (-10% vs. -20%) and temporary staffing outpacing search (-14% vs. -33%).

The U.S. staffing industry is expected to keep pace with overall economic growth in 2021 and grow 12% to reach $141.5 billion. This 2021 outlook relies on three key assumptions: 

1) The spread of COVID-19 will continue a downward trend 

2) U.S. GDP growth will continue a gradual but steady recovery

3) A COVID-19 vaccine will be widely available in the first half of 2021

Source: US Staffing Industry Forecast: September 2020 Update


Are you interested in joining the staffing industry?

Are you looking to transition into the staffing industry? If so, here are some resources to help you. MeeDerby only places professionals with staffing industry experience, but there are other companies who will consider those without staffing industry experience.

Here is a list of companies that offer internship programs or management training programs. You can contact them directly for more information.


Choose Staffing as a Career and Love What You Do