If 2020 taught us one lesson, it’s that anything can happen. While there is no way to plan for every possible contingency, companies can be ready for unexpected events by becoming more agile with their staffing. Agility is the ability to rapidly move employees into different departments or roles to respond to shifting business needs, such as in the case of offshore web development.
Even putting aside catastrophic events like major storms or pandemics, agile staffing can help with the normal ups and downs that come with things like shifting trends and the unpredictability of markets. If you’re not able to quickly ramp up or down when events rock your business, you’re likely on your way out.
Fortunately, you have many options for improving your staffing agility, including increasing workforce mobility, introducing cross-training, or using temporary workers. But the most important way to do it is to build an agile mindset, introducing this concept into every area of the business. Here we further discuss these methods.
#1 Support Workforce Mobility
Another lesson that came from 2020 is that a mobile workforce is an agile workforce. Perhaps your company introduced work from home (WFH) options or even mandates for your employees. While this decision was forced by social distancing requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and not necessarily a decision you would have made otherwise, you may have found many benefits.
For example, employees can actually spend more time working, such as parents who would normally need to take a day off to stay home with a sick child. With a WFH arrangement, they can be at home and at work at the same time. Another benefit is that you can hire people who live anywhere, not just in your geographic region. So, you can expand your reach and get the best quality employees.
#2 Implement Cross-Training
You can also gain flexibility and agility with your current employees if you cross-train them. That means teaching employees how to do other people’s jobs. Cross-training doesn’t mean teaching all employees how to do every job within the company. It does mean teaching everyone within a department how to perform the important functions within that department. Cross-training can be time-consuming, but it can be time well spent in a variety of unexpected situations.
The following video offers tips for effective cross-training:
Another way to gain agility with current employees is to get more familiar with their skills and professional aspirations. Perhaps someone on your HR team is interested in production. That’s great to know in case you have a sudden surge in orders and need more people in that area. That professional is one less person you have to hire from scratch and someone who requires less training since they already know a lot about your company.
#3 Engage Temp Agencies
Temp agencies can be a great resource when you need workers only for a specified period. Many have temp-to-hire programs, so if you’re not sure how long you’ll need to fill a position, it can be a great way to try team members out and see if they’re a good fit. This arrangement is a win-win because workers also get the opportunity to see if they would like to work for your company full-time.
Once you have established a relationship with a temp provider, you can simply use a dashboard to request new team members or end temp workers’ assignments. Temp agencies often serve a specific industry, so look for one that can deliver the top talent in your field.
#4 Take Advantage of Staffing Services
Staffing services are like temp agencies but are typically geared toward supplying workers for longer periods of time or for the duration of specific projects. These services are used more for planned initiatives and less for emergency situations, even when some of the best staffing services can offer certain roles in mere days.
BairesDev’s Extended Teams service is an example of a staffing service. It was designed to help companies that need technology teams find the right people without going through the costly and time-intensive hiring process. It draws from the top 1% of IT talent in Latin America and uses a fast, effective artificial intelligence (AI) solution for building exceptionally talented technology teams tailored specifically to each client’s unique needs and goals.
#5 Hire Contract Workers
Contract workers are another option for filling a need temporarily or in the long-term. The key is that you can bring them on and let them go as needed. They may be individuals with specialized skills, or agencies that fulfill a purpose, such as marketing. Though not technically part of your company, contract workers can very much become part of your team. The benefit to hiring them is they need very little training or direction because they already know how to do the job.
#6 Build an Agile Mindset
Gone are the days when your workforce is a fixed group of people on your company’s payroll for life. Today, companies use a variety of methods to retain a core staff plus others who can be deployed on an as-needed basis.
The secret to making this kind of arrangement work well is to ensure that you have ways to maintain your full-time staff and engage those who aren’t full-time employees. For example, providing excellent benefits is one way to retain your core workforce. Involving temp and staffing service workers as well as contractors in company events is a way to ensure everyone works well together as a team.
Summary: Benefits of an Agile Workforce
As we’ve seen here, nurturing an agile workforce is beneficial in numerous ways:
- You can be ready for unexpected changes in circumstances or the market.
- You can ramp up or ramp down your work in various departments.
- You can get the benefit of skilled workers from anywhere in the world.
- Workers from temp or staffing agencies and contract employees bring in fresh perspectives and ample talent.
- You can vet workers before hiring them as employees.
All of those should be enough to invite you into implementing an agile mindset, the best way to deal with the changing business landscape we’re living in today.