Weathering the Storm With Contingent Workforce Staffing

Woman whiteboarding
Even before coronavirus struck, employers across a broad range of industries began building a more contingent workforce.

Now that effort is kicked into overdrive. Whether it’s an industry that holds concerns around what 2021 growth levels will look like or an industry already experiencing higher production and demand due to COVID-19, the need for flexibility and rapid fulfillment responsiveness is more critical than ever. According to a recent Gartner survey, a third of U.S. companies plan to replace some departed full-time employees with contract workers.

We spoke to Aerotek VP of Strategic Operations Sara Staggs to understand more about how the current push to contingent workforces is playing out in the labor market.

Using contingent workers to scale up, down and sideways

Although specific circumstances vary from industry to industry and company to company, everybody in the current economic climate is dealing with some degree of change.

Contingent workforces can be incredibly nimble and built to suit a variety of challenges. They are usually the first to be hired in the early days of recovery as companies remain wary.  

”The current need for flexibility cuts multiple ways, with companies needing to upstaff, downstaff, change skills, upskill, or hire from applicant pools that could be thin or heavy on a case by case basis,” says Staggs.

A contingent workforce can be a panacea for several coronavirus-related issues, from scaling staffing upward to meet demand or accommodate a higher rate of absenteeism than ever before, to bringing in project-related help for a billing or production cycle, to changing your entire business model at a moment’s notice in response to an opportunity.  

Diversifying new hire skill sets to position for future growth

Bringing in a workforce with different skills than usual can also help companies sample a broader range of employee expertise, which comes with new challenges and benefits.  

”Part of change management is bringing in people who are experts in new models, from leadership and consultants on down the line to operations,” says Staggs. “Contingent workers can help with that while offering the chance to commit to full-time employment if and when the time comes.”

It’s worth remembering that contingent workforces offer more than just a band-aid for getting through the current crisis. As contingent workers bring their experience to tackle your current challenges, they may also have insight into process improvements or potential new opportunities.

Leaning on staffing partners to manage unfamiliar hiring ramps

Companies are getting creative to remain in business, shifting their focus to products or services consumers need more of now.  

“New products are coming out due to the pandemic, such as test kits or masks, that can require a different kind of labor,” says Staggs. “This means many businesses are hiring for different skill sets than they’re used to recruiting for.”

A staffing partner with experience in both your former business model and your new venture is able to translate your needs to the current talent market.

“As far as getting businesses talent that they don’t have experience hiring, that’s something a contingent staffing partner can help with,” says Staggs, “so you can change and change back.”

The labor pool itself is pretty turbulent at the moment. So even if the main hiring thrust faced by a company does not involve a shift in focus to a completely unfamiliar labor pool, the resourcing involved in hiring is much higher than ever before.

Retailers, e-commerce and manufacturing companies may seek to hire 100+ in a key market overnight to accommodate the holiday season, while other industries are still dealing with layoffs. All the while the quit rate amongst workers is only rising.

A contingent workforce staffing partner can help you navigate rough waters, offering a happy medium between keeping afloat and steering forward.

“Finding the right people still takes market research, knowledge of the labor pool in a wide variety of fields, and knowledge of competitors,” says Staggs. “We can help you learn your market, even if your market is new.”

To start a conversation about staffing strategy for upcoming projects, reach out to Aerotek.