The Great Recession may have ended in 2009, but it changed the way businesses hire forever. It forced companies to re-evaluate their employment practices, turning to a more agile model that allowed them to scale up or down quickly based on rising or falling demand.
Yet even after the recession ended, the desire for a more flexible workforce did not. And now, as the world deals with the aftermath of a global pandemic, flexible hiring has become even more necessary. According to a 2020 Intuit report, roughly 25-30 percent of the U.S. workforce is currently contingent, with more than 80 percent of large corporations planning on “substantially increasing” their use of a flexible workforce in the coming years.
In fact, the most forward-looking and fastest-growing companies in the world have been increasing their percentage of contingent workers. Google, for example, works with more temporary workers and contractors (121,000) than they do full-time employees (102,000), according to a NY Times report.
What does this mean for you? HR teams must adapt to this evolved way of hiring by using key strategies that allow them to stay resilient in the face of constantly shifting demand. Here’s a closer look at three of the ways companies can successfully build a fully agile workforce: talent redeployment, co-opetition, and employee referrals.
Strategy 1: Talent redeployment
Let’s face it, hiring new people is expensive and time-consuming. To hire one employee, it costs an average of $4,129 and requires an average of 42 days, according to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). And that doesn’t include the post-hire time spent onboarding the new employee and getting them familiarized with company operations.
Adding fuel to the fire, there’s a major talent shortage coming out of the pandemic. There are more job openings in the U.S. this spring than before the pandemic hit in March 2020, and fewer people in the labor force. If companies want to compete, they need to get creative when it comes to filling open positions.
That’s why agile companies are finding top talent once and then redeploying them throughout their organization as employees’ skills grow and business needs change. It’s more efficient to utilize a credentialed worker with a completed background check and knowledge of the company’s processes than it is to start at square one each time a new staffing need arises.
What’s more, talent redeployment leads to longer employee tenure. If an employee is working in the same position for years, they’re more likely to burn out than if they’ve moved into a new internal role that challenges them in different ways. In fact, for every 1 percent of investment in redeployment, an organization was 72 percent more likely to see increased internal retention, according to Randstad.
Re-deploying employees into internal roles can improve employee success as well as improve your bottom line. But there’s another strategy to transform your hiring program into a fully-agile one: co-opetition.
Strategy 2: Co-opetition
The thought of sharing workers with your competition sounds counterintuitive, right? Yet, in today’s workforce, collaborating with similar organizations to scale your workforce can actually lead to long-term growth and sustainability.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re a retailer who needs to staff up to meet seasonal needs. Why not partner with another customer service-based organization that would otherwise have to lay off workers, and take on those employees to help fill your talent gap?
This idea is called co-opetition: cooperating with competitors to share workers. By doing so, businesses get much-needed, vetted talent without having to spend time or money recruiting new candidates. And co-opetition pays off: Businesses found a greater than 50 percent chance to reduce costs if they collaborated between three and five years, according to a study by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute.
“Cooperation is always more powerful than competition.” — Bob Proctor
Co-opetition has benefits beyond the bottom line—it also leads to higher retention and can bring new candidates to an organization. Employees will appreciate that their company values them enough to find creative ways to keep them employed, even when their roles aren’t currently needed internally. When they do go back, retention is often higher, because they have built loyalty toward the home organization. Plus, they often feel such an affinity toward their original employer, they’ll refer their colleagues, building a wider talent pool from which to choose.
And the cycle begins again. There are major benefits to hiring an employee referral, from increased employee happiness to longer tenures.
Strategy 3: Employee referrals
Employees have vastly different expectations from work than they did even a decade ago. People want to work in collaborative environments with peers they admire and enjoy working with. Gallup reports that having a friend at work leads to more job satisfaction and a longer tenure. So, ask your employees to refer people to fill the roles you have. Make it financially beneficial for them to refer their friends with an employee referral program and publicize open job roles internally and externally. Job candidates will reach out to people they know at your company and ask to be referred. That way, it’s a win for the candidate and a win for the employee who refers them. It’s also a benefit to the company to onboard great employees who already know a friendly face, which can potentially save time on recruiting and onboarding.
Looking forward, not back
From the recent recession to the pandemic, the workforce has forever been altered. The traditional way of hiring no longer works, and future-thinking companies who are adapting their HR models toward agility will not only survive the current workforce challenges, they’ll thrive.
For more strategies to help you build a fully-agile workforce, download the free guide: Unlocking Fully Agile Workforces.