Now that we are in 2024, let’s talk about why we are optimistic for the year…
We spent most of 2023 waiting and wondering if a recession was coming. Many companies in most industries hunkered down, slowing or postposing hiring and plans for expansion. The staffing industry is always the first to see slowdowns, and often the first to recover. Your company might have missed it, but the recession definitely came during 2023. Many staffing companies used the time to make strategic changes in their workforce, both in numbers and quality.
The term “topgrading” comes from a 1997 article by Bradford D. Smart and his son Geoffrey, called Topgrading the organization. Their definition of topgrading is “proactively seeking out and employing the most talented people available while redeploying (internally or externally) those of lesser ability or performance.” Smart said savvy companies eventually make a decision to employ only A players.
We saw a lot of high-level movement in the 4th quarter of 2023. We think its similar to an NCAA trade portal opening up for senior executives, allowing both the companies and the execs to decide what moves might better position them for success in 2024.
Companies that commit to only hiring and retaining A players will become stronger over time. A strong lineup of players will attract other A players to their company (much like great sports teams), so eventually, topgrading talent becomes easier for all hiring managers.
At XPG Recruit, we had a record 4th quarter, with 75% of our placements at the executive level, and we see that same trend continuing for the first quarter of 2024. But we also see an increase in hiring across the board and an exceptional number of requests for dynamic sales professionals.
What does that mean? We believe it means that many leading staffing companies who are in touch with key indicators think we’ve turned the corner on the economy. Investing in top-level leadership means that companies are making sure they have the right team in place to implement new strategies and pivot to new opportunities.
Hiring sales professionals is a sign of optimism. Historically, the end of a recession brings in months, sometimes years, of expansion and economic growth. The companies we’re hearing from believe there will be lots of business to pursue, and they’ve hit the ground running to start off 2024.
About the Author:
Rich Thompson, CEO of XPG Recruit, is an expert on staffing, human resources, training and leadership development. He is also a former All-Big Ten football player for the University of Wisconsin. XPG Recruit provides recruiting for staffing companies. The XPG Recruit Athlete division places former athletes into business careers and works closely with universities through its sister company, Podium X.
For more about what we believe are the foundational skills of leadership, here is a related excerpt from my book, “RELENTLESS: Leading Through Performance, Relationships, and the Lessons of Sports.”