How to Keep Your Business Agile with a Scalable Workforce

Today’s global, local, and industry marketplaces are volatile. It’s now more important than ever to have an agile business—with innovations and flexibility in your product and service offerings, your technology, and your workforce. But many companies fail to focus on workforce agility, even though it’s just as important to the bottom line as any other business function. Building a scalable workforce is one critical way companies are weathering market changes and shifts in customer demand. Here’s how:

What is a Scalable Workforce?

A scalable workforce is a human resource strategy that takes market volatility as a given, and prepares in advance for sudden changes in workforce requirements. This requires proactive workforce planning, a pool of skilled contingent talent, and an understanding of regular compliance issues that can arise when your labor pool expands and contracts frequently.

How a Flexible Workforce Benefits Employers

Enriching your core, permanent workforce with flexible talent has multiple advantages for employers, including:

  • Reduced workforce overhead. Organizations lower costs when they bring contingent employees on board during busy seasons, or for specific projects. With short-term talent, you won’t incur the cost of benefits, such as healthcare. A scalable workforce can also mitigate overtime costs when the expanded workload leads to increased hours for permanent employees.
  • Fast access to critical skills. Imagine a business services company experiencing a sudden uptick in business. They have a strong customer service team, but not enough people on hand to respond effectively to the likely increase in requests for support or information from new clients. Under a scalable workforce model, the company has an established partnership with a recruitment agency that specializes in their industry, and access to at-the-ready customer service representatives.
  • Specialty expertise. A flexible workforces offers companies access to highly skilled talent for short-term projects. Specialists (often costly to hire full-time) can offer their skills on an as-needed basis.
  • Improved Employee Retention. Without the support of a contingent workforce, permanent employees are often overextended during short-term projects or the busy season. This contributes to employee burnout and lower engagement. When a contingent workforce is brought in for critical support, your full-time employees feel valued and retention improves.
  • Compliance management. All companies are responsible for labor law compliance for all of their employees, whether they are permanent or contingent. Partnering with a recruitment firm offers ensures your contract workforce complies with employment regulations.

How an Agile Workforce Benefits Talent

A scalable workforce provides benefits for job seekers and employees as well. Contract work allows for job hopping, which increases their adaptability while giving them an insider’s view of different businesses, industries, and even locales. Here are other perks an agile workforce provides for talent:

  • Flexibility. Contingent and contract workers have the ability to take time off in between gigs, and take on positions that adapt to their life more than is possible with a traditional nine to five role. This benefits caregivers who need to take time off for kids or ailing parents, as well as people with wanderlust who work in between travel adventures.
  • Path to a Permanent Role. In temp-to-hire arrangements, people who excel in the job will be offered a full-time position at the end of their contract period. Even fully contingent or temporary roles offer opportunities. A company may find a contract worker is such a valuable addition, they offer them another full-time role immediately, or when a position opens in the future.
  • Skills advancement. With contract roles, employees can expand their skill set by working jobs with slightly different requirements.
  • Career switching. Contract work is an excellent way to explore other industries, job types, and entire careers. People can take a temporary position within the industry and experience the career track first hand to determine if they want to continue.

Transitioning to a Scalable Workforce Model

Reconfiguring your workforce to improve scalability goes beyond adding a freelancer or two to your contact list. Creating a scalable workforce strategy and gauging results is critical. Here are important steps to include in the process:

  1. Engage management in the strategy shift from the start. Buy-in from the top is crucial to create lasting change in your workforce approach. Executives will determine whether the new plan gets the time and financial resources it requires to take root for the long term.
  2. Discuss your company’s goals and establish a clear five-year business plan, if you don’t already have one.
  3. Establish or review your company’s immediate and long-term workforce requirements in relation to those goals. Discuss workforce frustrations and shortfalls that hiring managers, department heads, team leaders, and employees faced over the previous year or so. This will give you a broad view of problem areas and skills shortages that require attention.
  4. Determine which positions are seasonal or project specific. Some roles are core to your business and require permanent employees, while others are required during busy periods or for specific projects. A combination of discussions among key team members and workforce data analytics will help identify which roles fall under each category.
  5. Build a scalable workforce talent pool. None of the above efforts will yield value if you don’t have skilled employees to fill these roles quickly. Establish a go-to talent roster through networking if you’re company is small and only a few positions would benefit from contingent talent. If your organization has an ongoing need for a contract workforce, or requires intermittent expertise, partnering with an experienced recruitment or staffing firm with knowledge of your industry is the best tactic.
  6. Engage your contingent workforce. Though individual contract employees are with your company for a defined period of time, they should not become an afterthought in your employee engagement efforts. Make sure that managers and permanent employees understand their importance to your business operations, so they treat contingent employees as respected members of any team. These are workers who may discuss your organization on social media, and who you may want to return for future opportunities.

For most organizations, building a scalable workforce has become mission critical. Begin exploring flexible talent solutions for your company and improve business stability in the turbulent business climate that looks like it’s here to stay.

Contact LINK today for help building your scalable workforce.