Sensible Hiring: Finding the Sweet Spot of Full-Time and Contingent Employees

Hiring extremes are commonplace for US businesses due to a constant barrage of socio-economic pressures. For instance, in response to the 2008 recession, companies took a highly conservative approach to hiring, waiting until the last possible moment to bring people on board. This contrasts radically to the pandemic years when sudden changes in demand for products and services pushed businesses into over-hiring, resulting in higher payroll costs, inefficiencies and regrettably layoffs, especially in Big Tech.

Economic uncertainty is ongoing, and in response, organizations need to find their sweet spot in hiring. To do so, it’s important to understand the skillsets and availability of all workers so that the company can meet current business demands and respond to external factors, ultimately driving the business forward regardless of economic conditions. Achieving this requires augmenting full-time employees (FTE) with contingent staff and employing an effective people management strategy to ensure employers are always getting the best from both.

FTEs retain the knowledge and experience a business needs to achieve its goals, but they can come at a price. They are, by definition, a long-term investment and may not always be the best solution for an agile organization responding to rising and falling demand. A successful company needs to have access to a robust contingent workforce, ready to scale capabilities up or down as required. A recent MIT Sloan Management Review survey found as much as 30% to 50% of some organizations are now composed of contingent workers, with businesses increasingly relying on third parties to deliver even their most essential services.

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Here are some suggestions for getting the right mix of FTEs and contingent employees at your company:

  • The process should be a collaborative approach that is driven by the C-suite, department heads and sometimes external experts. This team should understand their role and commit to enabling flexibility in the way talent moves around the business. By doing so, the organization can shift talent, both FTEs and contingent workers, throughout the company where and when needed.
  • HR and procurement are also crucial in the process as they have access to internal data which shows where gaps exist in the current workforce. And the talent acquisition team — whether internal or external — should be tapped into the business as a whole. This will ensure a more holistic understanding of what is needed and how to obtain it.
  • Data is important for assessing what roles are better filled with contingent workers and helping to match the right skills for each position. Data generated by the business can also predict ongoing talent needs and ensure all employees are contributing in the most effective way.
  • Finding the right people is only half the story. It’s crucial for organizations to treat their workers well, starting from pre-onboarding and continuing throughout their engagement. Services such as a well-being hub and mental and physical wellness programs help employees feel the company is invested in them and want to see them succeed. And communicating the mission and values of the company will help employees feel more connected to each other and management.
  • When it comes to contingent workers, we know that to secure the most value from them, they should be viewed as more than a stopgap solution. They not only help organizations to scale capability but they also enrich the workplace. Contingent workers can bring a wider range of viewpoints, experiences and backgrounds to diversify and improve thinking and work output. It’s important to recognize and highlight the new skills they bring, which can be passed on to the FTEs or act as a catalyst to help everyone deliver more.
  • Communicating with the workforce and about the workforce to every part of the organization will mean you can maximize the value of every worker in your business, enabling your organization to build and achieve more.

Today’s successful organizations embrace a fluid mix of all worker types, recognizing the value each labor segment brings to the business. By leveraging the right mix of workers and engaging them in ways that bring out their value, companies can maximize skillsets, scale up or down as needed and increase productivity.

Jason Pyle

Jason Pyle
Jason Pyle is president and managing director of Harvey Nash USA.

Jason Pyle

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