There is no doubt companies today are operating in highly competitive business environments. To survive volatile marketplaces, you should adopt an agile business strategy that features flexibility in innovations and technology, product and service offerings, and workforce. Significantly, it would help if you put more focus on workforce agility as a way to weather market changes and shifting customer expectations.
Aspen Institute’s “Workforce for the Future” survey reveals that 60 percent of companies use on-demand or contingent workers, and 70 percent of employers are considering moving into a gig-based labor model with artificial intelligence and automation. This piece will look at the benefits of a scalable workforce for business survival and the steps to get you started.
What Is a Scalable Workforce?
A scalable workforce is a human resource management approach that allows managers and business owners the flexibility to adjust the number of workers in a company whenever a need arises. It is a labor practice where you employ workers according to the amount of workload available at a given time. This workforce can include a mix of part-time employees, freelancers, gig workers, independent contractors, and contingent workers. Typically, with this strategy, you eliminate the problem of understaffing or overstaffing by increasing or decreasing the number of staff appropriately.
Benefits of a scalable workforce for businesses:
Working with a flexible workforce model comes with many upfront benefits. These include:
Reduced operational costs.
Enriching your in-house workers with flexible talent helps you achieve lower fixed labor costs. Typically, you eliminate overhead on salaries, health insurance coverage, and employee benefits that traditional full-time employees require. Besides, when you hire short-term freelancers, you reduce the cost of overtime, space, and office equipment.
Access to a vast pool of talent.
Today’s workplace demands more flexibility thanks to the rise in telecommunicating, new technological tools, and co-working spaces. Hiring flexible and remote workers enable you to access a wider pool of talent from across geographical boundaries. Besides, when your geographic scope is increased, you can contract niche experts for highly complex projects without incurring huge costs or disrupting the workflow of your in-house employees. It can be costly to hire specialists full time, and a scalable workforce strategy allows them to offer their skills on an as-needed basis.
Quicker turnaround times.
Technological innovations have brought myriads of staffing challenges relating to timeliness, quality control, and scalability. Modern customers seek immediate resolutions to rising issues. Your web content should be regularly updated to make it more relevant to queries customers are asking. If you are using user-generated content, you need to provide real-time moderation too. A vital benefit of a flexible workforce is that you can quickly scale staffing up or down depending on the project or season to deliver projects to customers within the specified deadlines.
Loyalty and increased productivity.
As businesses scale up operations for higher profitability, the demand for in-house workers to be available beyond the standard hours is rising. With increasing work hours, employee burnout will also rise, which eventually affects their productivity. Incorporating a scalable workforce in the workplace is ideal for improving retention, building morale, and earning employee loyalty. Ideally, you can hire freelancers for short-term projects to reduce regular employees’ workloads and promote flexible work schedules that enhance your permanent employees’ welfare.
When you bring in a contingent workforce for much-needed support, the permanent employees feel valued and their loyalty is firmly established.
How to transition to a scalable workforce:
Incorporating scalability into your labor practices needs more thought than just adding a freelancer or two. It is essential to create a functional, flexible workforce strategy and develop tools for measuring its success. If you are just starting, take the following steps:
Make wide consultations.
Bring everyone on board with your plans for a shift in the human resource model from the start. This approach helps create a lasting change. Besides, you may need the signoff and financial support from the executives. A new plan needs time and financial resources to succeed, and you must get support from upper management and key employees.
It is crucial to establish the specific goals you seek to achieve with the new plan. Come up with a long-term plan that includes every detail, including the benefits to your organization. It is also imperative that you become objective in your assessment and include both the advantages and disadvantages of a scalable workforce.
Determine your business’s workforce requirements.
Once you have your goals in place, determine your company’s most urgent and long-term workforce requirements relating to the goals you have set. Take a look at the workforce issues and shortfalls that human resource managers, team leaders, and other employees faced in the past year. This will give you an in-depth understanding of the skills that are crucial but lacking. It will also inform you of the positions to fill with remote and flexible staff.
Your next step is to identify the positions that are seasonal or project-specific. Some roles need scaling only during specific times of the year, while others can be core to the business’s everyday operations and thus require permanent employees. Analyze workforce data to determine which positions fall under each category.
Establish a scalable workforce talent pool.
Focus on getting highly skilled employees to fill the vacant positions. You can network or partner with an experienced staffing firm to identify crucial talent that meets your ongoing need for a freelance workforce. You should also establish a database for the scalable workforce you are working with now, so you can easily reach out to them when a need arises in the future.
Onboard your new hires.
Although they may stay with your company only for a while, it is crucial that you engage your contingent workers on crucial company values, culture, and routines. You should also stress their importance to other in-house employees and managers and the need to treat them as important members of the team.
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