Multi-ethnic businesswoman shaking hands greeting company client

Staffing and consulting firms made up 25% of critical project teams in 2022, according to a new research report from global consulting firm RGP. This percentage is up from 18% in 2020 and is projected to reach 28% by 2024. 

RGP surveyed 404 senior executives in four global industries — financial services, healthcare, pharmaceuticals/life sciences, and technology — to better understand their challenges in tackling mission-critical projects. 

Project teams include fewer employees, more outside talent

Since 2020, more than three in 10 (33%) executives have been facing greater challenges in their critical change and transformation projects. And the talent shortage has made it necessary to rely more on outside talent. 

Employees are losing ground as team members, making up 55% of critical project teams in 2022 compared to 62% in 2020. Meanwhile, staffing and consulting firms are a growing component of critical project teams, with one in four team members from these sources in 2022. This outpaces independent contractors, who made up just 18% of project teams and aren’t expected to grow their share in 2024.

Having more staffing firm team members boosts project success

The appeal of hiring independent contractors is the ability to fill positions quickly without the administrative burden that comes with onboarding full-time employees. However, skipping extensive credential checks can lead to hiring contractors that prove unqualified for project teams. 

Staffing firms are generally better than “gig work” platforms at assessing talent and finding ideal team leaders and other members to support strategic projects. That’s likely why RGP’s report found that having a higher-than-average number of project team members from consulting and staffing companies vs. independent contractors was linked to greater project success. 

Leaders (companies meeting or exceeding key goals for all critical projects) and Laggards (companies with the lowest percentage of critical projects with met goals) are both using more outside talent. But Leaders were much more likely to have project members from staffing and consulting firms (31% compared to 21%, up from 20% and 14% in 2020). Leaders are likely to boost this percentage to 34% in 2024, while Laggards will inch up to 22%. 

Making up 20% of their team, Laggards were more likely to use independent contractors in 2020 (compared to 14% for Leaders), but this percentage will drop for both Leaders and Laggards in 2024 (down to 12% and 17%, respectively).

Surveyed executives saw value in building relationships with consulting and staffing firms that get to know what they need and what candidates will fit best with their company culture. One finance executive RGP interviewed said, “You establish relationships and work with firms to the point where they say, ‘We know you just as well as you know yourself.’”

See RGP’s full report for more insights.