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As the world settles into its new normal, professional and business services firms are looking to rebuild their teams for the future. But hiring and retaining top talent continues to be a challenge. I recently chatted with Jeanne Urich, managing director at Service Performance Insight, a global research, consulting, and training organization, about some of the top talent challenges, workforce composition, and hiring dilemmas the industry is dealing with.
Below are some key takeaways that Urich shared with me during our conversation. You can also find our other Workday Podcast episodes here.
“In 2020, surprisingly, we saw headcount growth of 5.5% across the industry and very few organizations chose to lay off people, even in such a tumultuous year. Some organizations resorted to furloughs, and certainly there has been some trimming, but those cuts have been more performance-oriented versus wholesale service industry layoffs. Based on the challenges and uncertainties throughout 2020, it was quite surprising that most firms continued hiring. We are now conducting our overall revenue benchmark for the year, and across the benchmark of 561 firms year-over-year revenue has been strong with an increase of 8.7%. Now, although that is lower than the 10% that this industry usually sees, it's still pretty strong.”
“Over the past 14 years, we have measured the billable hours that employees deliver onsite versus offsite. Year-on-year, we've seen the percentage of work that has been delivered virtually or remotely continue to increase. Obviously, that metric has gone through the roof in 2020, but the ramifications for this industry as a whole are incredibly positive over the long haul. The consulting profession has traditionally been one of long hours and tremendous amounts of travel. What is exciting is that clients are now completely receptive to virtual consulting delivery, and they are discovering that their service provider’s productivity is better. And for the service providers themselves, the move to virtual service delivery really opens up the ability to find the best available talent no matter where those people are located.”
“We’ve seen some of the largest service organizations in the world make incredibly big strides in creating a global jobs catalog. They're normalizing their definitions of their workforce and coming out with a single global view of different roles, as well as the skills required to do those roles. And as you can imagine, this has tremendous benefit for the employees themselves. It helps them plot their own career progression, but it also helps them see the skills that they need to grow professionally in this world.”
“Looking ahead to 2021, we're not going to see the robust 10% year-on-year revenue growth that we typically see in the industry, but we will still have both hiring and revenue growth overall. One of the most promising metrics we have seen this year is that the service industry is experiencing the lowest attrition rate in a long time. Currently, attrition is 11.6% compared to the five-year average of 12.4%. Working from home has been so beneficial for both employees and employers that it has actually led to more stability in the workforce. Now, I do expect that to change a bit as we go into 2021, but overall, it's been a year of workforce stability.”