Key Strategies to Maximize Your Workforce

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Today’s employers face unique challenges, from rapid-fire technological advances to evolving government regulations to increased global competition. At the same time, they’re experiencing a record-low unemployment rate and a tight talent pool across industries.

Given these conditions, companies are evaluating their staffing models to find creative yet cost-effective ways to both attract talent and fill critical gaps. A strategic plan for labor acquisition begs the question: Can we leverage contingent talent to increase both productivity and profit?

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Flexible staffing models

While market and employment conditions may affect the decision to use contingent labor, other factors also influence company decisions. Demographics are a key factor, as retiring baby boomers are replaced by millennials more willing to switch jobs. Other factors may be workplace-driven, such as the cyclical nature of business demands.

Technology factors, from access to networks and data to alternative work arrangements, may also influence staffing models. Businesses are increasingly contemplating how to use virtual space for remote work, in order to save on physical space costs and to extend access to talent that might be otherwise constrained by geographic proximity.

Whatever the drivers, contingent staffing allows employers to react quickly to changing markets, workplace conditions or business requirements. The practice can provide skilled, experienced employees — prepared to go directly to a company site and begin working.

Jobs and industries best suited for contingent

As companies evaluate their business requirements, certain positions may be a core group best identified as permanent, internal positions — in sales, management and business development, for example. But other positions are distinctly suited for contingent staffing, such as seasonal work with rapid ramp-up/ramp-down periods, as well as niche-based projects with defined deliverables and timelines, such as in health care administration and engineering. The banking industry is one of the biggest employers of contingent labor at present, particularly for customer service positions.

A 2016 PwC report on contingent labor in the financial sector stated that 10-30 percent of their total labor force was contingent labor. Staffing experts also note a high caliber of contingency in other professions such as engineering, government administration and accounting.

Light industrial positions for seasonal businesses that require a flexible staffing model, such as warehouse and distribution, commonly employ in the contingent space. Other contingent-friendly professions include skilled trades such as welders and pipefitters. While the scope of employment varies, HR Managers and hiring managers are seeing contingent labor used consistently, under specific conditions, across all industries.

Strategies for recruiting top talent

Given the steady practice of contingent hiring in today’s market, the most effective employers seek to attract talent in the contingent space as they would in the permanent space — competitively.

As companies respond to the lack of skilled candidates, there is growing recognition of the need to increase wages for the contingent workforce. Yet pay remains nearly stagnant, leading Upjohn Institute senior economist Susan Houseman to caution, “Employers are going to start having trouble finding workers they need at the wages they’re paying.”

Ultimately, labor acquisition is affected by a host of complex factors, both internal and external. With the tight labor market expected to continue in the near-term, it is worth considering contingent labor, and investigating how to maximize the potential benefits of incorporating this workforce sector into staffing models. The payoff can fulfill critical requirements and employ a smart and proactive staffing strategy, both now and in the future.

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