Companies Making Contingency Staffing a Permanent Strategy

Finding the right staffing mix for an employer has always been a challenging proposition, especially for companies facing change or in uncertain economic times. As the country is starting to see signs of economic recovery, two of the questions we as staffing professionals continually ask ourselves are “What is the best way to help meet the changing needs of our client companies?” and “How can we help them prepare for future growth while simultaneously managing their current needs?”

Contingent workers, contract and temporary, are increasingly becoming the answer to both of these questions. Historically, the temporary labor segment has largely been defined by short-term labor needs. However during this most recent economic recovery, there has been a fundamental shift in the way companies are hiring. Employers today are learning that keeping a segment of their workforce as “permanent” temporary personnel is just as essential as an IT or finance department. This new way of using contingent staffing is helping companies grow with confidence while providing essential support to manage current workloads. According to our annual Workforce 360 study, 67 percent of companies today are utilizing contingent workers, making up an average of 8.3 percent (up from 8.1 in 2005 and 6.6 in 2009) of their workforces. With the number of temporary jobs increasing by approximately 25,000 jobs each month, 84 percent of employers say their temporary staffing populations have either stayed the same or increased in the last few years.

While the advantages of contingent staffing models are increasingly recognized as beneficial to the bottom line in both good and bad economic times, it can be challenging for organizations to create an effective integrated staffing infrastructure. In order to restructure an existing workforce and include a permanent contingent worker segment, employers need to start with three critical components to achieve integrated staffing success: collaboration, strategy and technology.

Fostering collaboration between internal stakeholders
When creating an integrated staffing model, collaboration between decision makers must satisfy the key objectives of each stakeholder within the company. Identifying and coordinating between these decision makers, often HR, procurement and business leaders within the company, will help address any issues from the onset and create a staffing strategy that shares a unified set of needs and solutions. By creating a collaborative process, each decision makers’ needs can be satisfied through an integrated staffing mix. This process will also create a model for future hiring decisions and ensure fulfillment will not be slowed by miscommunication of goals or differing long-term goals.

Define a formal strategy
A talent acquisition strategy should be formalized and documented to help officially align current staffing practices with long-term goals based on current and future business needs. Decision makers must also plan how talent acquisition is introduced, resourced and maintained within a company to help support goals throughout the entire organization.

Invest in technology
There are many processes and practices that can be enhanced and in some cases automated through advancing technology. By utilizing these tools, companies can further manage the strategic acquisition process in a more effective way. New and innovative enterprise solutions and analytics software will help streamline hiring cycles and help managers more efficiently manage their staffing needs.

With 56 percent of companies indicating their increasing concern about an impending skills gap, it is even more important to identify talent needs and structure the best workforce based on the supply of qualified talent, including full-time and contingent candidates. For HR professionals today, building an integrated staffing infrastructure will become an essential tool to meet the ups and downs of business while continuing to hire top new talent.

Jim Link
Jim Link is managing director, human resources, at Randstad.

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