Managing Company Initiatives in The Great Recession: Examining Benefits of Flexible Staffing Models

The Great Recession, or so it has been named, has come a long way since the financial sector began crumbling at its rotting foundation back in 2008. Through the implementation of various and sometimes massive stimulus measures by the federal government, some corporations that were facing unstable and uncertain futures have managed to survive and in some cases even thrive. Other companies, some of which had enjoyed tremendous success for decades or longer, were unable to weather the storm and have since been forced to shutter their doors. Needless to say, the business environment has not been easy in the last few years, and for many companies, both large and small, it has been and continues to be an uphill climb. As businesses struggle to survive, thrive, expand, and stay relevant in these times of economic uncertainty many are faced with a sobering challenge: How Do We Continue to Implement Our Initiatives and Move Forward in These Times of Economic Uncertainty and Instability?

This question that’s been raised doesn’t arrive at an easily defined answer, yet there are some current trends in the business environment that can certainly aid in the endeavor that businesses across the globe are faced with and will likely be continuously faced with for some time into the future. One thing is for certain and that is that shrewd businesses that are determined to come out of this recession on top must make sound and tactical investments in their businesses to avoid stagnation. In the business world today, many companies are fearful of bringing on an optimal human resource level in fear of the economy taking a double dip. However, in today’s dynamic world businesses can no longer afford to wait for better times to spark innovation, but rather it must be a continuous cycle which drives the company forward. In order to weather the storm, a growing trend for sophisticated businesses has emerged and become the go to solution. The flexible staffing model, which can provide resources needed to tackle initiatives on a temporary, as-needed, or just-in-time basis, enables businesses to continue trekking through the storm, maintaining staffing flexibility and operating under a robust and agile structure, when hiring new FTEs is just too risky to be a viable option. Below we examine some of the top reasons to consider the benefits of pursuing a flexible staffing model when moving forward on your company’s staffing initiatives.

1. Leave it to the Experts:

Let’s face it; sourcing top talent is probably not among your core competencies, nor is it an expertise of most employers. Any hiring manager who has ever been tasked with bringing on new talent knows that it can often be a surprisingly daunting task. Challenging, frustrating, and extremely time consuming, the interview process can take several full-time weeks or sometimes even longer, until finding the right fit for your project. In most cases, your time would be better spent focusing on the core responsibilities required of your career. When doing the recruiting process yourself, your ‘real work’ can start to pile up as you interview one poor-fitting candidate after another; watching the hours roll by as another candidate is escorted out of the building and another resume is reviewed for consideration.

Outsourcing this function and leaving it to the experts can not only give you ample time back, but more importantly, you are likely to end up with better results. Companies offering flexible staffing and augmentation services specialize in this function, have developed advanced recruiting and screening methodologies, and have access to top talent and consultants with true subject matter expertise. Why not consider letting them do the work for you, or at the very least help narrow down the process so you can focus on what your real core responsibilities are?

2. Seamless Transition:

One of the key benefits offered in the use of flexible staffing and augmentation services is in their ability to provide seamless transition of talent onto a project. Companies offering these services usually provide trained subject matter experts with advanced past performance working on similar projects, with the ability to dive right in and start leading teams, programs, or initiatives for the business. The cost savings on training alone in this instance is a huge factor to be considered when evaluating all of the options for leading initiatives in the Great Recession, and should aid in positioning the company in making its way out of the recession on top.

3. Flexible Staffing Model: The Many Risk of Going FTE

Even today many corporations, who initiated mass layoff measures following the onset of the Great Recession, continue to operate well under pre-recession (suboptimal) staffing levels. Unfortunately this is now starting to cause increasing levels of stagnation at companies across many industries. Many businesses that were forced to initiate sweeping downsizing measures are now left understaffed to complete new projects that will bring them forward. Augmenting their staff with creative and flexible models can serve as a solution to provide the capabilities needed to complete programs and initiatives, while remaining flexible as needs change and as projects are completed.

The fear of a double dipping recession has managers fearful of bringing on new full timers, and for good reason. If forced into mass layoffs once again, companies can be forced to pay a big price. For one, it can cause a monetary hit in a number of ways. Companies often have to pay severance package that can be costly and lead to bad press for the eliminating of jobs. This can cause a domino effect in sparking fear in the shareholders, bringing down the stock price and ultimately, as a result, the value of the company.

These models provide flexibility and often enable the employers to contract the consultants and subject matter experts who are augmenting the staff for a period limited to the duration of the projects or initiatives through completion, eliminating wastage and maximizing efficiency, operating with flexibility and significantly limiting risk.

4. Cost Effectiveness.

Perhaps the most recognizable of its benefits, the cost effectiveness of flexible staffing solutions should not go overlooked. In adopting an augmentation model and forgoing the hiring of FTE’s, the employer does not pay benefits or any other carrying costs associated with the hiring of full-timers. Additionally, a company adopting this model will save significant time and money being delivered subject matter experts while forgoing training, sourcing and recruiting expenses often present when employers are hiring directly and internally.

5. Conversion Option:

One final benefit of using a flexible staffing solution to weather the storm of the economy is that many companies offering these services will also offer the option to convert a consultant or subject matter expert to a Full Time Employee for a fee. Therefore, using this model can be a smart, safe, and cost effective way to try an employee before you buy them, delivering needed project skills, just in time.

As outlined in this article, adopting a staff augmentation solution for your business is becoming a go to trend in these times of economic uncertainty, and is helping astute businesses weather the storm, enabling them to emerge from the recession on top, leaving behind stagnant former competitors that have since lost relevance in this rapidly evolving world.

Strategic Staffing and the Temp Agency

Temp agencies have become indispensable partners for many companies. No longer are temps (or contingent workers as they are sometimes called) a minor expense; they are a big investment and a critical aspect of keeping jobs filled. But managers ought to understand that good temp agencies do much more than find “bodies” at short notice. The best agencies can show you how to use flexible staffing to improve productivity.

The Dramatic Rise of the Temp Agency

The temp agency is an essential service because businesses need flexibility. They need to be able to fill positions at short notice, for short periods of time. The flexibility in staffing that temporary workers give a company has proven to be so valuable that the number of temps has continued to rise over the years. We used to think that temporary staffing only made sense for relatively low-skill jobs but now companies have discovered that there can be value in bringing in interim executives right up to the level of CEO.

In using temp agencies companies have stumbled upon some unexpected benefits. One is guaranteed performance. If you bring in a temporary employee and they are not working to your standard, a simple phone call to the temp agency is all it takes to have them replaced. The other unexpected benefit is the temp-to-perm phenomenon. Hiring workers as temporaries before making a decision about offering them a permanent job is undoubtedly the single most reliable selection method. It gives the company a chance to “test drive” the worker and the worker a chance to see what it is really like working for the company. The U.S. National Association of Temporary Services estimates that one out of three temporary assignments leads to full-time work.

Clearing Confusion About the Types of Temps

Frequently the labels “temporary help,” “contingency staffing,” and “flexible staffing,” are used interchangeably by the general business community. However, temp agencies understand that these three types of workers are used quite differently.

Temporary help is a concept whereby companies bring in someone, usually for lower skilled jobs, to cover for a vacation, maternity leave or help for some short-term project.

Contingent staffing is a much broader concept including all sorts of contractors, consultants and free agents, often for reasonably long periods of times. The driving business reason is still flexibility: companies want to be able to bring in the talent they need at the moment without making a long-term commitment.

Flexible staffing is rooted in the original insight of Pollock and Shore that big productivity gains would arise by analyzing the fluctuating levels of demand and creating a flexible workforce to match it. Of all the types of temporary staffing this is the one that is truly strategic.

The Most Important Use of Temps: Flexible Staffing

When demand dips below the water level staff is idle and the company is paying unnecessary salaries. When demand juts above the water line the staff cannot handle the workload resulting in overtime and backlogs.

Mistakes to Avoid

If there is one place where some companies have gone astray in working with their temp agency it is that they stopped seeing it as “staffing” and started seeing it as “purchasing.” As noted in this article, the rise of temporary staffing meant that temps have gone from an insignificant cost to a large annual expenditure. Furthermore, this expenditure was uncontrolled in the sense that all sorts of managers would be negotiating their own deals with different temp agencies. Organizations responded quite reasonably in trying to get control of this by bringing the purchasing or procurement function – that has expertise in cost control – into the picture.

However, this can go off the rails if the procurement department focuses only on cost, not on quality. A company would never hire someone on the basis of which applicant was willing to work for the least money; the quality of the candidate is a prime consideration. However, when a procurement department is being driven solely by targets to reduce costs the easiest way to get there is to be inattentive to quality.

The solution to this is reasonably straightforward. The mission of the procurement department must be to partner with the temp agency to get top quality temp workers at a reasonable cost. Hiring managers should be periodically surveyed to ensure the temp agency is providing the quality of staff it needs.

Return on Investment

Businesses rarely do any kind of ROI around hiring temporary help, it’s simply a matter of work needing to be done and getting help quickly. However, for flexible staffing it is possible to do a formal ROI, and the results can be impressive.

If you are able to reduce your permanent staffing in a unit from 100 to 75 then it is easy to calculate the savings. Add to this the cost of overtime caused by peaks in demand – not to mention the loss of customers due to backlogs – and you have all the information you need for an ROI calculation.

The returns are usually so large that it’s not necessary to spend time sweating over specific estimates – even the most pessimistic estimates show flexible staffing will provide a solid return.

Don’t think of your temp agency as simply someplace you call to fill a short-term vacancy. Think of it as a service provider who can regularly source top talent for you and permanently reduce your costs.

Retain Top Talent With Mobile Staffing Software Features!

With more and more college graduates flooding the job market, the option of temporary work should not be overlooked. There are many misconceptions of what temporary positions offer employees and the pros are commonly ignored. A temporary assignment gives workers flexibility in their schedule, a chance to pick up new skills, and the opportunity to have a staffing specialist work for them to find the perfect job. Staffing agencies are always looking to fulfill the needs of their clients with the most qualified candidate. That being said, recruiters need to find new ways of attracting and retaining top candidates. The recruiting process can be enhanced by offering applicants the convenience of working with mobile portals.

What is your staffing agency doing to better serve your candidate pool? Are you offering something that your competitors aren’t? The best staffing software solution that a firm can have will not only improve the lives of the internal staffing employee but also the individual that is representing your services while out on a temporary assignment. How is your staffing software going to help better the lives of your workforce? Through various mobile features that they can access through their smartphones!

Here are 4 resources that you could offer your candidates that will set your services apart from the rest:

1.) Text Messaging Notifications

When notifying your labor force about new and exciting opportunities, text messaging is a quick, easy and effective way of doing so. Your staffing software needs to have the functionality to send and receive text messages while storing them in your database. This could be used for job announcements, assignment and interview reminders, or any general messages that you want your workers to see immediately.

2.) Mobile Optimized Job Boards

When using your staffing software’s text messaging, why not direct them to your company’s mobile optimized job board? This is a place where they can search all open positions that you have posted from your staffing software directly to your company website. This will increase visibility of the opportunities your firm offers candidates.

3.) Time Entry

How are you currently collecting time from your temporary workforce? Are you making them come into the office every week or track down a fax machine? Help simplify this process by providing them with the option to enter all time through their mobile device. Give temps access to self-service portals so they can log all time and expenses that they have incurred when working for your clients.

4.) Easy Access to Update Availability and Schedule Preferences

The best staffing software solutions can give your workers the freedom to set their own work schedule preferences. Your firm’s candidate portals help preserve your best employees by giving them options to help manage their schedules.

These are all perks that you can offer your applicants to help win the war on talent in the staffing industry. By offering the convenience of working with your company through the features offered by robust staffing software, you are able to maintain a highly qualified candidate pool that will always represent your firm in the best way possible. Empower your candidates and you will notice the increase in quality of your services!