Why a Flexible Staffing Strategy Is Especially Crucial Now

By Robert Half on June 2, 2020 at 11:30am

The economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak have turned many aspects of companies’ staffing needs upside down. One thing that has not changed, though, is the need for a flexible staffing strategy.

Already during the pandemic, many organizations have had to learn how to deliver their products and services in a different way or refocus on areas of the company that are most profitable in this new environment. As a manager, this includes realigning resources and potentially reassigning staff to new roles to fit new priorities. And when you decide it is safe to reopen your business, you may be directing the projects of people working both in an office and at home.

As it did ever since stay-at-home orders first began, all this requires you to turn on a dime when it comes to staff management. A flexible staffing plan can help you. An essential part of the plan is from time to time engaging interim professionals to relieve your core staff, who may be having trouble learning new roles or dealing with a leaner workforce.

The dangers of a rigid staffing strategy

It might seem natural for companies to continually adjust employee headcount to match business opportunities. But the unfortunate result is a demoralizing, disruptive cycle of hiring and layoffs, followed by more hiring when business improves. A better solution is to bring in interim staff whose services you can quickly access when you have the need and just as quickly stop engaging when the need disappears.

Instead of a job vacancy or sudden new project leading you to automatically rehire the position or bring on additional full-time employees, a flexible staffing strategy gives you time to work on a more holistic solution.

Reasons a mix of talent may be your best bet

Bringing in project professionals to work alongside your existing full-time staff can make business sense. Here are some of the biggest advantages of this mix:

  1. You save money. The use of contingent workers enables you to turn some of your fixed personnel costs into variable expenses by paying only for the talent you need when it's truly needed. In addition, you lower the high costs associated with hiring and training new staff while reining in overtime expenses.
  2. You improve your competitive position. A flexible staffing strategy gives you more control over personnel. That translates to an advantage over competitors whose rigid labor structure makes them more vulnerable to economic highs and lows.
  3. You make it easier to retain your best people. When employees see you are providing them some relief during times of overwhelming workloads, it helps boost retention.
  4. You avoid bad hires. When you're going through the hiring process, it's important to get things right because there are serious financial consequences if you hire someone who doesn't work out. 
  5. You free up full-time employees. Tapping the talents of temporary workers to assist with day-to-day team responsibilities allows core staff to pursue more complex challenges and occasionally take time off to recharge as well.
  6. You can get specialists quickly. There is a broad spectrum of expertise and experience to choose from when it comes to engaging interim staff. If a new initiative requires specialized knowledge you don’t currently have in-house, you can find project or consulting professionals for hire with extensive skills in these areas.

As you implement a dynamic mix of your existing full-time employees and highly skilled temporary professionals, your plan may also need to include new full-time hires. This may sound counterintuitive at a time when so many companies are reducing staff. But consider this: For a business to stay in business, it has to have the best talent. As you realign resources to focus on new priorities, you may need a different kind of talent in some instances.

Stand-out job candidates are more plentiful today due to an unfortunate situation: high unemployment. Many people who lost their jobs during the downturn did so because of business conditions, not performance, including some very accomplished workers. While this increases the quality of the talent pool, it does not make hiring any easier. An attractive job posting is likely going to elicit an onslaught of resumes. You’ll need to sort through these resumes and handle the other steps of the hiring process at a time when there’s little time to spare.

Robert Half can address your talent needs

A specialized staff firm such as Robert Half can help you look at your needs from a bigger-picture perspective. We can advise you on what mix of workers you need, including full-time, part-time or temporary staff. After assessing your situation, we can then zero in on the most promising candidates and help cut your hiring time from weeks to days — or, in some cases, hours.

We can help find skilled professionals for you, including employees who must work remotely. And for those lacking the technology necessary to work for you securely from home, we can provide access to virtual workspaces and secure VPN connections. 

Robert Half also gives you the gift of time as you must navigate one of the most challenging business environments in decades. Our staffing and recruiting professionals handle all the details of the hiring process, including interviews, technical skills evaluations, soft skills reviews and determination of the suitability of a candidate's fit with your organizational culture.

We can help you implement a flexible staffing strategy, no matter whether your industry is technology, legal, financial, administrative or creative. We allow you to cost effectively staff up or down — and back up or down again — to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing business landscape.

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