Human resources professionals are currently facing the tightest labor market in 25 years. As a result, many are turning to alternative solutions such as contingent staffing to meet their short- and long-term staffing needs.
Although contingent workers can be hired directly, most companies turn to a third-party supplier such as a temporary staffing company that will recruit, screen, select, place and manage the temporary worker while on assignment. This allows the company to use the temporary only for the time needed, while eliminating payroll, worker’s compensation and benefit expenses and responsibility, as well as related administrative costs.
Strategic Staffing Plans
When temporary staffing was initially introduced many years ago, companies turned to staffing services only for last-minute, emergency-based needs. A clerical or "secretarial" worker would be brought in to cover the phones or fill in on a short-term basis for a regular employee during vacation or maternity leave.
Today, companies have expanded their use of contingent staffing to include temporary lawyers, software engineers, editors, accountants and other professionals who have a significant impact on the organization and its internal and external customers. The volume and frequency of using temporary workers has also increased significantly, and in some companies—particularly during peak project periods—temporary workers can represent up to 40 or 50 percent of the total workforce.
Best-practice companies use temporary workers to manage business peaks and valleys and also to augment their staffing plan in other ways:
Contingent Staffing Models
Best-practice companies have started moving away from the single vendor approach, and they’ve started to focus on finding the best service in their location in each specialty area.
Vendor Assessment and Selection
Temporary services differ in how they’re structured, how they operate and what features and benefits they offer both their clients and temporary workers. Best practice companies identify their specific needs before initiating the buying process.
When companies use a high volume of temporary workers, the best approach is to identify the selection criteria (one example might be that the service can provide second-shift workers and be staffed to handle issues that come up during that shift).
Contingent Workforce Management
Managing the contingent workforce involves working closely with the staffing service to communicate expectations and issues. But equally important to the process is having a structured set of guidelines in place for the organization to follow when using temporary help.
Best-practice companies have a model in place for managing all of their vendor relationships, and they apply these systems and standards to their temporary-help services, as well.
Workforce, November 1999, Vol. 78, No. 11, pp. 58-60.