RGF Staffing, a business unit of Japanese mother company Recruit, is a leading HR Service provider with a global network…

RGF Staffing, a business unit of Japanese mother company Recruit, is a leading HR Service provider with a global network of staffing businesses which currently boasts a 13,000-strong workforce with $11bn in annual revenue. Its local companies operate under multiple brands each with its own locally distinguishing market position. The operating companies (Opcos) know the local markets and customer needs down to the smallest detail. They apply a leadership style in a way that fits seamlessly with the local culture and operates with a lot of autonomy.  

In addition, the company also benefits from family connections with pioneers like Indeed and Glassdoor, the HR Tech business unit of Recruit.  

2025 and beyond…  

“Over the past 18 months we’ve strongly focused on digital transformation for all ten of RGF Staffing’s operations,” reveals Chief Information Officer (CIO) Michael Whitmer. “We’ve reviewed and analysed their current state tech stacks, with a focus on how they can innovate our business and markets, and be the leader in leveraging technology for our customers, candidates, talent and employees.” 

Chief Information Officer (CIO) Michael Whitmer

Whitmer’s team drives the acceleration of technology used to support the company’s key stakeholders and improve their personal experience. “We’re engaging our local operating companies in our overall digital transformation strategy,” he urges. “By leveraging technology in each of our markets, we want to future proof our entire organisation and ensure our leading position. Each OpCo has set their technology ambitions and priorities for the coming years.” 

“We ask all the OpCos to identify a future state technology landscape – what do they want their future tech stack, and landscape to be?” asks Whitmer. “Then, what is the plan to achieve those priorities and execute on that future state over the next five years. How do they plan to get there? We’re doing all of this because we want to create a best in class experience for our stakeholders… We’re deploying a data driven approach and strategy to the way we execute, to make sure we bring value to the business, by solving business problems, and creating insights for our stakeholders.” 

Continuous Improvement 

Governed by a set of technology principles, Whitmer’s global team of IT leaders is evolving talent and customer facing solutions that are intuitive and simple to use for a best in class experience leveraging digital capabilities.

“The IT journey is just that, a journey of discovery with no destination,” maintains Whitmer. “Continuous improvement is a huge part of our role as IT and technology leaders within the organisation. The main deliverable that IT must provide is creating business value. Everything we do, every application we touch, every integration we develop must create that value in the form of a great customer experience, efficiency, productivity, and, at times, revenue generation. The only way to achieve that value creation is to make sure we’re continually looking to improve and innovate in everything we do. We’re not just here, as some IT leaders out there believe they are, to deploy the latest and greatest technology, we’re here to solve business problems and bring value to our stakeholders, whether internal or external.” 


“At Recruit, we’re in the business of what we call ‘Creating Opportunities for Life. Faster, simpler, and closer to you,’ maintains Whitmer. “And in the RGF Staffing strategic business unit, we’re making sure people have employment and can support their families, and contribute to society. Since that’s our mission for our organisation, it’s a direct component of our sustainability agenda in general.” 

Whitmer adds that the entire Recruit organisation has made ESG not just a priority, but something that over the past year has been “embedded in everything we do and every business decision we make”. 

By 2030 RGF Staffing is aiming to be the world’s most sustainable staffing company… “Even when it comes to the IT strategy that defines our future state landscape, we’re doing it in a way that contributes to our ESG goals,” notes Whitmer. “Whether that’s energy driven, or the way the technology impacts our end-users, or ensuring that we don’t have a slanted bias using AI tools – we want to make sure sustainability is just as important as breathing the air. So, it’s become part of our DNA.” 

Touch Thru Tech 

“Staffing was, is, and is going to continue to be, a relationship driven business,” reasons Whitmer. “But, that said, technology is the key enabler to ensure that that relationship with the stakeholder groups of customers, candidate, workers and employees is maintained 24/7, and that we’re employing automation and digitisation to provide them with the right information and the best opportunities. 

“We have to augment the human touch that is such an important part of our business by leveraging technology; we call it ‘Touch Thru Tech’, which means we keep those relationships going. We cultivate them with technology, so that our stakeholders know they are getting the right support when they need it, efficiently, productively. 

“There’s also that human aspect. You will hear from someone within our organisation, you’re not just speaking with an app, a device, or a computer; you’re also working with individuals. So, technology enables us to further leverage that relationship, and do it in a manner that creates much more value than if we did not have technology. This allows us to remain competitive and build the long-term sustainable growth to future proof our businesses and our organisation as a whole.” 

Whitmer sees technology as an enabler and, even before the acceleration of adoption driven by the global pandemic, believes it must be intertwined in everything an enterprise sets out to achieve.  

“However, you have to be very astute and focused on ensuring you’re leveraging technology that does create a better experience and not a worse one,” he warns. “For example, integrated voice response (IVR) may allow organisations to serve a broader number of people but I think that higher number of people simply end up with a lower customer experience because they get frustrated by the lack of human interaction. Being able to balance that human interaction, that ‘Touch Thru Tech’, with experience and with automation is key in our business. We spend a lot of time really understanding that end-to-end process to ensure that every step of that journey is enabling or leveraging technology in the right way to create that best experience.” 


COVID-19’s impact has been felt across industries and sectors but Whitmer says that, in general, business hasn’t changed for RGF staffing with its mission to fill positions with the most qualified and highest quality workers possible, for both blue- and white-collar roles, and to do that in the most efficient and technology enabled way as possible while aiming for a 100% fill rate. “That’s our goal, it’s always been our goal, and it continues to be our goal.” 

Allied to that key goal, Whitmer’s team want to maintain human connections, augmented by technology. However, COVID has left a significant impact on workforce availability across the globe. Some of it driven by subsidies and government support, some of it driven by people deciding they’re going to take a different direction in life triggered by the pandemic.  

“We’re in a candidate shortage market,” he adds. “But when the pandemic subsides we think there’ll be more candidates available for jobs, and we can continue our growth from there. That’s probably the challenge we have globally across all of our OpCos; the need to find more qualified workers to do the jobs we have available for our customers.” 

Technology & Business in harmony 

“What makes a good CIO?” reflects Whitmer. “I actually have a strong belief, and it’s been validated over the years, that you need to combine a solid business acumen with deep technical knowledge – you can’t have one without the other. And, you have to have a solid process or a way in which you bring those two together in order to deliver a technology strategy and transformation initiatives for an organisation. With both of these skillsets it then comes down to the ability to cultivate and manage strong relationships across all of your key stakeholders, both internally and externally, with vendors and third parties. Many CIOs are vision oriented around the latest technology and articulate that story well, but without a clear plan around where this actually creates value for the business, the approach is meaningless…” 

Continuing the conversation with tech 

AI, machine learning and NLP (natural language processing) come in many forms of technology. RGF Staffing is looking at specific use cases, such as conversational AI and NLP for chat bots and voice bots, and machine learning and AI in its search and match function on candidate databases; areas where tech can add value.  

“These types of engagement tools can help us ensure we maintain that ‘Touch Thru Tech’ while leveraging insights from our data and analytics,” says Whitmer. “We’re also looking at RPA (robotic process automation), blockchain and connectivity via IoT (Internet of Things) and the data it can capture. We need to spend more time automating a number of our manual processes. If you focus on simplifying the environment and then digitalising your various manual steps, you’ll really drive value, efficiency, and more productivity.” 

RGF Staffing is also investigating the potential for supporting staffing on demand with new talent platforms and taking technology and leveraging it across the whole digital journey for the company.  

“We’re always looking for what’s next and what can bring value,” adds Whitmer. “In many organisations, but staffing for sure, adoption is something you have to drive and is a key aspect of any technology that we deploy to our operation. Our user community is sometimes resistant to change. They worry technology might replace their job instead of enhance it. We aim to communicate the right message about our strategy, and how this is value driven, and helpful. 

“The key requirement is to solve our business problems and only deploy technologies that add value. That way we avoid getting caught up with chasing the latest buzz words and keep our focus on maintaining a balanced approach to digital transformation that delivers a great user experience via ‘Touch Thru Tech’.” 

With the evolution of staffing from a manual and process-driven industry to an increasingly digitalised and automated one, RGF Staffing, and its customers, candidates and employees are more than ready for the journey…

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