By Rob Balfour, VP Enterprise Sales, AllWork
Study after study is drawing a clearer picture of the future of work; specifically, the contingent workforce. Businesses and employees are seeking options for flexibility. Employees and companies have the desire to earn money apart from the traditional style of doing business. Now, more and more organizations are realizing the potential of employing those who are flexible to have plenty of staffing when the business needs it and save money when it doesn’t.
A contingent workforce, also known as a flexible workforce or an on-demand workforce, is a staff that is optimized for when it is needed. Depending on the nature of the business, this flexibility can mean many things. Some of the biggest shifts are taking place today and will continue to grow is in the retail and services sector.
This flexibility comes in many forms. For example, it could mean hiring multiple temporary employees for a spike in business like when a retailer opens a new location that requires additional employees to stock shelves or assists customers during higher traffic hours. Or, it could be a brand that is launching a new product that requires additional attention at retail. A flexible workforce could be a mix; full-time, part-time and temporary employees. Many businesses can benefit from an on-demand, flexible workforce, such as:
- Retail Stores
- Delivery Services
- Healthcare Organizations
- Special Events Companies
These are just a few examples of industries in which seasonal shifts impact the demand for products and services, resulting in a constant fluctuation demand that coincides with this market shift.
Benefits of a Flexible Workforce
Despite the number of organizations that have predictable peaks and slow times in their business, staffing remains a rigid number in too many companies. Having more employees than necessary during slower times and fewer hands-on-deck during busy times causes strain, often times on the bottom line. In addition to alleviating these issues, a flexible workforce has multiple benefits.
If your business opened the doors at 10 a.m., you probably wouldn’t schedule your first employee to come in at noon. The same logic applies to a retailer. If a retailer’s busiest time is Thursday through Sunday, you would want more staff during those times. Most would think that makes sense. However, do you find yourself struggling to find help when your business takes an uptick? And are those upticks predictable?
It is critical to have the right talent, in the right store, at the right time!
Knowing when these increases are likely to happen is only one piece of the puzzle. Having skilled workers at-the-ready is the other.
Extra capital to re-invest into the business or improved profitability are music to the ears of business owners. In many companies, labor is the number one expense. Reorganizing your workforce toward a flexible model means having more staff when you need it and fewer workers when you don’t. If you find yourself hiring during the busy seasons and letting attrition take care of your workers throughout the other times, it could be time for a different system.
Flexible workers are often happier than those in a more traditional role. Most business owners know that new hires are usually enthusiastic and willing to learn. The training time and cost is usually the only thing that makes managers slow-to-hire. Using a skilled and temporary workforce could alleviate this struggle, leaving the business with more upside and higher employee retention percentages.
An Increasing Field of Skilled Workers
The terms “gig,” “flexible jobs,” and “on-demand work” are just a few of the buzzwords that have been rolling around the business world for a while. This no longer a concept, it is a reality. More and more businesses are using part-time, flexible employees. This increase is due to the number of people choosing to work on more flexible terms. The pool of qualified potential workers continues to grow, which is great news for businesses that have fluctuating staffing needs.
How to Implement a Flexible Workforce
Flexible workforce planning depends heavily on the nature of your business and how you currently staff for those needs. If you desire a more manoeuvrable team, think about your implementation in the following key steps.
Take a Current Workforce Snapshot and Assess!
Understanding how your business is staffed is the best place to start. Once you have these numbers, compare it to your monthly revenue.
- Were there times during the workday when you had too many employees?
- Were there times during the workday when you didn’t have enough employees?
- Are you constantly struggling to find the perfect balance and “right” number of employees?
Once you have answered the above questions, it is time to understand the specifics of your team(s).
- How many employees are full-time?
- How many employees are part-time?
- How many employees are temporary?
- How many employees are skilled laborers?
Breaking down your workforce into exactly who does what and when they do it is important. Knowing everything about how you currently staff will highlight potential areas for flexibility and at the same time identify cost reductions and increased sales. This should be music to your ears.
Plan Necessary Changes
In almost every case, an accurate snapshot of your current staffing compared to revenue will show obvious potential changes. Making those changes, however, needs to be planned out. For instance, reducing your workforce immediately may create a whole new set of problems. Perhaps employees who you choose to let go knew how to do certain tasks that remaining workers do not know how to do.
Understand Staffing Resources
Reducing and increasing your workforce at different times of the day, month, or year requires a flexible source of skilled workers. It’s wise to test these resources and find a provider that is best suited for your business needs. Once you know where your flexible workers are going to come from during the busy times, you’ll be better able to implement your flexible workforce plan.
The AllWork advantage is providing our clients with an end-to-end solution that is designed to benefit everyone in your organization who sources, schedules, manages, trains, and pays your talent.