“According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one’s plans.” – Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu should know a thing or two about managing human resources. He was an industry leader of his day. As a military general, he commanded thousands of troops to numerous victories. He wrote The Art of War as a military strategist, a book widely regarded as a masterpiece on strategy. It is a must-read for not only military leaders but also business leaders.
If Sun Tzu were a businessman today, he would likely use a flexible staffing solution to run his ‘army’. To be successful, he knew that an endeavor needs to be nimble enough to respond to current conditions and that, when the time is right, you need to adapt.
What is flexible staffing?
Flexible staffing is a strategy that supplements a team of full-time, core workers with a contingent staff that can grow or shrinks as business demands require. These contingency workers can be contracted staff, freelancers, gig workers, temporary workers, or any blend of those. As contingent workers, they are not on the permanent payroll, which allows for greater flexibility for human resource managers.
What are the benefits of flexible staffing?
- Responsiveness. Using a dynamic blend of full-time employees and temporary staff allows a company to rapidly deploy or withdraw troop levels in response to current marketplace conditions and business needs… without the arduous recruitment drives or unpleasant layoffs of permanent staffing.
- Variable staffing costs. Standing armies aren’t cheap — the overall costs of permanent workers include recruitment, training, benefits, and overtime. A dynamic blend of full-time and contract employees gives a company greater flexibility not just in staffing but financially, as well. The fixed cost of a permanent workforce becomes a variable expense — you only pay for supplemental talent when needed. When it’s not, you don’t. This variability translates into a competitive advantage over companies with inflexible staffing structures.
- Frees core talent for higher-level tasks. You don’t want your top talent wasting their time on menial tasks. Contingent employees can be brought in to file, answer the phones, sweep the warehouse floors, or move boxes. Temporary hires add time to the day for your permanent staff.
- Temp-to-hire. Hiring permanent, full-time employees comes with a lot of pressure to get it right — a company can be stuck with an unsuitable employee or face a complicated process to remove them and start the hiring process all over. Offering contract-to-hire positions allows a company to audition new employees, assess their performance, and fit with the company culture before committing.
- Reinforcements. Permanent employees are not 100% consistent. There will be maternity and paternity leaves, vacations, prolonged illnesses, training leaves, and trips to Machu Pichu to ‘find yourself.’ A roster of contingent staff can be called up to reinforce your troops any time you’re short-staffed… without having to hire permanent replacements.
- A wider talent pool. Providing employment options other than the traditional 9-5, a full-time job opens access to talent you would otherwise miss out on. Parents with school-age kids often can’t work at 9 am or 5 pm. Students have classes and exams. Some people have personal goals or lifestyles that conflict with permanent employment. There is a great deal of talent outside the permanent, full-time pool.
- Evolves with the market. As the nature of work has evolved, so have workers. The gig economy, remote work, freelancing, and other structures are more attractive to many workers than a full-time job. Furthermore, staffing shortages and the high demand for top talent have made permanent recruitment of people with special skills and deep expertise difficult — they don’t want to tie themselves to any one company. A company that evolves with the times has a tactical advantage.
What are the problems with flexible staffing?
No solution is perfect. And no solution is right for every company. Flexible staffing may not fit all companies, but a proactive plan can eliminate any potential problems. These are some of the commonly cited issues with flexible staffing solutions:
- “We’ll have less control.” Some HR professionals feel they need a close relationship with employees to effectively manage them and worry they will have less control over a temporary workforce or those who do remote work than they do over a direct hire.
- “We’ll get less buy-in.” There is a perception temp workers can be less invested in the long-term goals and success of an organization than a dedicated team.
- “We’ll lose our training investment.” Time and resources spent training contingent workers are lost to the company whose staffing strategy does not entice those employees do not return.
- “The quality of service will go down.” Some HR managers worry temporary workers won’t provide quality service for the organization’s clients.
- “We’ll have safety issues.” New workers’ lack of workplace and procedure familiarity can create unsafe conditions without proper training.
- “The staff won’t like it.” Without a proactive strategy to integrate contingent workers, they can face rejection by permanent employees, resulting in a lack of cohesion, lost productivity, and reduced satisfaction for all.
- “What if we can’t find people when we need them?” A permanent position does guarantee access to that worker’s skills when required.
While no solution is perfect, all of the problems – potential or perceived – with flexible staffing solutions can be mitigated by an effective, flexible staffing strategy. Forewarned is forearmed.
How can I implement a flexible staffing strategy?
Crafting and implementing a flexible staffing solution requires planning, preparation, and execution:
- Plan: Evaluate staff resource planning to identify positions suitable for swells or reduction in levels, find skills gaps, and examine immediate staffing needs and potential future requirements.
- Define Roles: Establish clear and complete requirements for your staff regarding skills, experience, and fit for corporate culture.
- Meet Formal Requirements: Understand the legal and financial requirements for maintaining a contingent workforce.
- Recruitment: Identity, access, interview, and vet a talent pool of temp workers, gig workers, freelancers, contractors, and other contingent candidates.
- Team Building: Build a cohesive and inclusive culture to create strong connections within your troops.
While these steps can seem daunting, a staffing platform can guide your team to a successful outcome.
How can a digital staffing platform help you build a flexible staffing solution?
Jombone is a digital staffing platform and industry leader that offers comprehensive staffing services for countless companies looking to establish and maintain a flexible workforce.
Whether you need light industrial employees, administrative assistants, warehouse personnel, or other skilled professionals, a digital staffing platform will help build the right flexible staffing solution.
- Work with you to understand your current workforce of permanent employees and identify the positions suitable for a contingent approach.
- Work with you to understand where your skills gaps are and how they can be filled.
- Work with you to map out your requirements for your workers to build robust job descriptions.
- Help you map a growth strategy nimble enough to meet today’s demands and accommodate tomorrow’s.
- Find the right talent from a curated talent pool of job seekers. All candidates undergo intensive screening and interviewing to discover their work experience and their personal goals, and fit for the company culture.
- Recruit and pay workers within all local legal requirements and provide the accounting framework to meet fiscal propriety.
- Advise on strategies for building a corporate culture that builds a great relationship between your contingent workforce and your full-time employees.
A modern tactic for the modern workplace
The traditional strategy of building a workforce of permanent employees has won many battles. One can be tempted to attribute past successes to that approach. But the past is a poor predictor of the future… or the present.
Workplaces are changing, and so are workers. Successful companies must adapt to the environments in which they operate and take advantage of the opportunities these changes bring. A flexible staffing solution can help you win today’s battles and plan for tomorrow’s victories. But don’t take it from us. Here’s one more kernel of wisdom from Sun Tzu:
“Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.”