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Why Interim Staffing Makes Even More Sense During Times of Crisis
A brief review of the history of interim staffing throws light on the evolution of the industry. Three “black swan” events were major disruptors that contributed to the thriving business it is today, according to Tim Ozier, Sr. Director of Sales at MRINetwork:
Y2K in 1999. “I guess this wasn’t a true ‘black swan’ event in that it was predictable, but it caused massive turmoil and disruption for companies all over the world. It was a super-charging event for contract/interim staffing,” says Ozier. “Companies needed IT expertise to manage the challenging transition, and this transformed the sector from supplying primarily lower-level employees to engaging high-level IT professionals. That was the start, and it’s never slowed down.”
Recession of 2008. As the recession lingered, companies were faced with the painful process of laying off thousands of permanent employees. “It was expensive, lowered morale, and it created bad publicity,” recalls Ozier. “But many of these companies came out of the recession with greater profitability because of the reduction in fixed costs such as benefits, vowing that they were not ever going to go through this again.” They reassessed their talent access strategy, opting for enough full-time people to cover baseline business and supplemented by contractors that allowed them to flex up or down as needed.
COVID-19. The inherent flexibility of interim staffing is a lifeline for companies that have had to change the way they do business to survive during the pandemic. “Today’s contractors are high-level and greatly needed, so the coronavirus has had much less of a negative impact on the sector,” says Ozier. “IT has been the least impacted, and other industries have experienced a rise in the use of contractors, notably insurance and logistics.”
Integrating interim staffing into a talent access strategy is always smart, but the current economic climate makes it even more so. Committing to new, full-time employees without the ability to meet them in person during the pandemic can be unnerving, so this is a good time to make interim staffing a key element of your talent access strategy. “You can start the candidate as a contractor until travel is allowed for in-person interviewing,” advises Ozier. “It also allows the potential employee to check out you and your company over the course of the interim contract.”
In reassessing their current skill sets at this time, many companies have discovered that they need to bring different strengths to their leadership teams. Factors like remote working and economic and labor market changes are shifting priorities and may require different approaches. “Often, the right interim employees can help forge solutions to the challenges a company faces in the midst of a crisis like the pandemic,” says Ozier. “They bring fresh ideas to the table while helping teams to become more adaptable and innovative.”
Aside from taking care of immediate duties, deploying contract employees can encourage companies to broaden their comfort zone to change things that are no longer working and find new ways of doing them. They are accustomed to coming into a new environment and quickly assessing what needs to be done and creating a plan for accomplishing it. Although there’s no handbook for dealing with a pandemic, their past experience as contractors helps to hone their problem-solving skills.
“Implementing a flexible staffing strategy that includes contract employees in the mix – no matter what industry you’re in – is a key component of dealing with the current crisis,” Ozier believes. “Companies can cost-effectively staff up or down — and back up or down again — to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing business landscape.”
3 Steps to Sourcing Contract Talent, Even When Going Through an MSP/VMS
A recent NPR/Marist survey reveals that 20 percent of work in the U.S. is fulfilled by contract workers. So, no matter what industry your business serves, chances are you regularly employ contractors to augment your permanent workforce. This reality creates a continual need to source consultants, whether it be through a (Managed Services Provider) /VMS (Vendor Management System) or a boutique staffing firm.
The use of an MSP/VMS has increased dramatically in the last ten years; the threshold for engaging with an MSP used to be approximately $50 million a year in contract staffing spend, but that number has significantly decreased, and many small to medium-sized companies utilize an MSP program. Despite all the benefits of an MSP/VMS, it can present a challenge to internal hiring managers who need to find contractors quickly, with a very specific skill sets.
"Some companies are much more strict and rigid than others when it comes to MSP utilization, said Tim Ozier, senior director of contract staffing sales for MRINetwork. "Some junior level managers may also be more reluctant to try and work outside the MSP program than their senior colleagues."
Regardless of how your company manages its contingent workforce, Ozier recommends taking the following steps to ensure you have an efficient process for sourcing contractors:
1. Become very familiar with the MSP/VMS program and its nuances. You might find that the program allows you to attract the contract talent you need, in a timely manner, at the right price. However, many managers have previously established relationships with smaller, boutique recruiting firms with whom they want to continue working.
2. Try to get boutique firms onboarded as a vendor through the MSP program. This can be time consuming and possibly unsuccessful if the smaller firms cannot comply with the vendor requirements. Essentially, youll need to justify why its critical to bring in highly specialized talent that cant be sourced through the MSP program. To accomplish this, learn the internal processes and justifications for using non-preferred suppliers. Exceptions can be made and even when the list of preferred vendors are locked down, there is typically a second tier of boutique providers that the MSP can turn to for meeting mission-critical business needs.
3. Utilize the boutique firm for consulting services or SOW projects, rather than staff augmentation since those services frequently fall outside the auspices of the MSP program. In some cases, it can help the hiring manager make a case for using an outside firm if he/she already has an excellent candidate from the firm. The company will usually have another vehicle outside of the MSP for more strategic or specialized biz needs. Many of those needs can be met by a staffing provider.
"Ultimately, its key that managers talk to other internal groups, to gain insight on all the available staffing options, concluded Ozier. "There are possibilities that are not always made public, and when there is enough pain regarding sourcing contingent talent, these opportunities open up."
How to Implement an Effective Contract Staffing Recruitment Strategy
According to Staffing Industry Analysts' Workforce Solutions Buyer Survey 2016, companies project that 29 percent of their staff will be contingent by 2026. As the blended workforce continues to grow, it is becoming increasingly important to perfect your company's recruitment strategies to consistently hire strong permanent and contract candidates that will drive business growth. No matter the industry of your business or organization, the ability to implement an effective contract staffing recruitment strategy that is part of your overarching hiring plans is essential for success in today's competitive job market.
Many young companies make the mistake of assuming that coming up with an effective contract staffing recruitment strategy can happen overnight. The reality, however, is that identifying hiring needs, searching for right-fit candidates and screening takes extensive time and consideration. Generally, the most successful strategies unfold with the help of staffing companies.
Whether you are running a startup tech company or managing a team of long-time engineers, you and your organization are going to need a strong recruitment strategy. Consider these methods for executing an effective plan that works for your team:
Strive to maintain balance
Changes in employment are expected within any company, no matter how good your retention rate is. Retirements, pregnancies, departures and even illnesses can have an impact on the comings and goings of several people a year.
However, it's key that your organization always be thinking two steps ahead when it comes to your contract staffing recruitment strategy. While not all exits from the company can be anticipated in advance, workforce planning is most effective when it resolves talent gaps while maintaining a balance of labor surpluses and shortages. This is best accomplished by using predictive analytics. When a company can accurately forecast future job openings, analyze current demand and talent, and measure predicted resources, it improves talent acquisition.
This ability to look ahead and recognize what your company will need and when, can enhance the success rate of recruitment.
Encourage a blended workforce
Today's workforce looks much different than it did even several years ago. With the onset of remote work, the gig economy and the appeal of telecommuting, it's becoming rare to find a company filled completely with full-time, in-office employees. From the top down, organizations and employees can reap the benefits of a mixed workforce but first, your company needs to be on board with this kind of work environment.
One way to do this is by including discussions around the blended workforce during planning sessions with the entire organization. Demonstrating how contract workers can help drive the organization's bottom line, while cutting costs at the same time is key. In many cases, contingent workers are hired for projects that could not be completed by existing staff. Overall, creating clear means of communication across all sources of workers is beneficial.
Expand expectations of contract workers
In the past, contingent workers were mainly brought on for short-term projects with an official deadline in place. Today, not all of these employees operate on fixed-term contracts. In fact, there are long-term contracts that can last up to several years or even indefinite contracts with no official end date.
If companies continue to view this pool of candidates as merely temporary however, they are largely missing out on the talent that is today's world of extremely skilled and top performing contenders. While you may only think of contingent workers as one-time fixers merely filling a gap in talent while saving on costs, you're losing out on the wealth of knowledge these highly-skilled workers have to offer.
According to figures from a recent study published by Oxford Economics, healthcare, public service agencies, financial services and professional services are among the top sectors using contingent labor as a solution. These organizations that require niche expertise can highly benefit in the long-term by sourcing from this top talent.
"Both organizations and contingent workers benefit greatly from contract staffing," said x. "Many times, the relationship and outcome is so great, these employees are later hired as permanent workers."
Work with a staffing company
Industry focus is key for finalizing your recruitment strategy and the best way to do this is by working with a staffing organization. Not only do these agencies have working relationships with top talent, but they understand the specific skill sets needed in your given industry. When it's the top candidates within you sector you're looking for, staffing organizations can help you find them. For both permanent and contract work, these single source solution provides can help you implement the best contract staffing recruitment strategy.