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Current Strategies and Tactics in Staffing

The following report is introductory to Dr Handfield’s research on Current Trends in Production Labor Sourcing.

Contingent work force

Call it downsizing, rightsizing or a layoff. Companies throughout the 90’s have been trimming their staffs to eliminate waste and focus on their strengths. These cuts have led to the development of the contingent work force – the people who are called in on a short-term or project basis. While using temporary help is certainly not a new concept, incorporating staffing as a part of an organization’s competitive strategy is.

See graph

As shown from the graph shown above, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and related occupations are not the common areas that temporary staffing companies cover, though there is expected to be a growth in these areas.

Today’s contingent work force crosses all lines of business and areas of functional responsibility. While temporary help used to be thought of as clerical support, the term has now come to encompass industrial, engineering, information technology and professional positions. In many parts of the country, the fastest-growing category of temporary workers are interim executives – from marketing and financial experts right up through CEOs. The following are the major staffing trends associated with the contingent work force.

Supplemental Help Fill-in for short-term demand such as a vacation or special projects. Using supplemental help allows existing staff to focus on more pressing business. It frees them from time-consuming tasks that disturb work flow and do not add much value.
Variable Capacity Staffing Strategic use of temporaries to accommodate workloads which are known to vary in seasons or other cycles. This results in consistency between the amount of work to be done and the available number of employees, keeping direct employees working at peak effectiveness. In some instances, employers have actually developed a shared work force that rotates from one business to another to accommodate each company’s unique seasonal needs.
Vendor-on-Premises The temporary help supplier provides an on-site coordinator for temporary employees at a client company. Typically, these arrangements are made by large volume staffing users to simplify coordination and increase both productivity and quality across a variety of departments or functions.
Facilities Staffing The temporary help supplier assumes responsibility for staffing certain jobs or departments with disproportionately high turnover, driven by routine or mundane work. Employees are “rotated” into and out of these positions based upon productivity. As a result, performance and quality increase, while the employer’s liability and headaches are reduced.

Hiring Options

The demand for good people is certainly not something new. Business executives commonly complain about the difficulty in finding and hiring producers. To handle this difficulty, many people are taking new approaches to making the hiring decision. An overview of two major tactics being used by hiring authorities follows.

Behavioral hiring

According to Ed Ryan, President of MPR Consulting, companies put too much emphasis on education and experience while neglecting two attributes he says earmark a successful candidate: behavioral traits and chemistry.

When filling a position, managers often prepare a description detailing the duties of the job. Unfortunately most people stop here. Missing is a description of the types of behaviors necessary to successfully execute these duties – a behavioral traits profile. To develop a behavioral traits profile for an available job, you must identify the company’s top performers in that position. Ask yourself: “What makes these people so good?” The answers will help you uncover the behavioral traits necessary to succeed in this position.

Once a profile of the ideal job candidate has been prepared (and all the traits necessary for success have been identified), the hiring process can begin. Following a behavioral hiring methodology, every candidate must be put through a structured interview. The standard interview questions are designed to determine if a candidate possesses the desired personality traits. Those individuals having the right attitude and behaviors then undergo a review of skills and experience.

A partial list of traits:

Intensity Very high stamina, endurance and a high level of work orientation.
Values A solid ethical system, refuses to cut corners or over-promise.
Risk Avoidance Acts responsibly, avoids breaking rules.
Stress Tolerance Manages stress well.
Focus of Control Level of responsibility a person takes for his job and his actions.
Independence Ability to work well with minimal supervision.
Optimism Positive outlook on situations, ability to learn from mistakes and move on.
Leadership Skilled at directing and leading others.

Temp-to-direct hire

Temp-to-perm enables companies to test an employee on-the-job before committing to direct employment. This trend has become popular because it alleviates some of an employer’s fears of making an incorrect hiring decision.

This strategy is an excellent way to lower the risk associated with the hiring decision. On the downside, however, many of the best applicants for a given job opening may be currently employed. These people are rarely willing to leave their current job for a temporary position even when the opportunity for permanent employment exists.