In a world filled with uncertainty, one thing is certain. “Business as usual” is no longer a realistic strategy. So, during unusual times like this, is it wise for companies to continue hiring? Many employers say yes. But others are turning to creative alternatives like outsourced labor. Here’s why:
Despite lower inflation and a temporary pause in lending rate hikes, the U.S. economy remains shaky. Some experts still say a recession is likely. Yet even though job growth has recently gained some steam, layoffs continue to spook employees — especially in the tech sector. And who can blame them? After all, technology companies have laid off nearly 211,000 people this year. At the same time, the number of open tech jobs has plunged from a high of 477,000 last August to only 168,000 this month. Chilling.
Even so, employers continue to grapple with the country’s ongoing labor shortage. In May, the unemployment rate remained low at 3.7% (about 6 million people), while job openings inched up to 10.1 million. In other words, many more jobs are available than today’s unemployed Americans can fill.
All these variables are making workforce planning especially difficult. So, rather than debating whether to downsize or expand your workforce — why not consider doing both? This strategy may seem counterintuitive. But it actually lets you retain valued employees while hiring talented candidates who want more work stability.
Of course, for this to succeed, your company’s reputation, benefits, and culture must be top-notch. U.S. employees are interested in organizations with a vibrant work culture backed by strong core values. In fact, 75% of employees say it’s “very important” to work for a company with well-defined values. And almost 20% of employees consider it the most important factor for job satisfaction.
If your company neglects these things, you could lose current employees. What’s more, attracting strong new talent will be much more difficult. For ideas about how to make the most of this strategy, keep reading…
How to Hire Quality Talent Amid Labor Shortages
When hiring, prioritize quality over quantity. The importance of hiring the right people can’t be overstated. It may feel good to receive hundreds of applications for an open position, but it won’t necessarily make things easier. If only a few applicants are qualified, you’ll need to spend many more hours of review and deliberation to find them. This unnecessary effort only makes your hiring process less efficient.
If you choose to hire full-time employees, seek out candidates who have worked at startups or other scrappy environments. This kind of work experience suggests that a candidate is resilient, resourceful, and comfortable wearing multiple hats.
Alternatively, consider hiring contingent workers. Because outsourced labor is ubiquitous and inexpensive, this is an attractive solution during talent shortages. Outsourced workers can focus on repetitive, easy-to-learn tasks so your full-time, in-house employees can spend their time on more strategic activities. This increases organizational efficiency and effectiveness. It also enhances the employee experience, which should improve workforce retention.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that the current labor shortage is expected to persist. If so, employee hiring and retention challenges are likely to continue. As a result, many companies could turn to outsourced staffing as a long-term solution. That’s a compelling reason to put successful outsourcing practices in place from the start.
5 Ways to Boost Workforce Performance With Outsourced Labor
Keep in mind that managing outsourced labor differs from managing in-house staff. To make the most of your outsourced workforce, try these tactics:
1. Invest in Structure and Quality Control
Designate one or several points of contact to manage outsourced labor roles, responsibilities, check-ins, and quality standards. This creates structure, which in turn prevents confusion, missteps, and other problems. It ensures that your contingent team members are aligned with your organization’s objectives and functional needs. Plus, it encourages two-way communication that helps minimize disengagement, quiet quitting, and excessive turnover.
2. Schedule Regular Check-Ins
Touching base with outsourced staff and outsourcing partners helps maintain accountability, transparency, and trust. By conducting weekly or biweekly check-ins, you can identify and address issues more quickly and keep the relationship moving forward smoothly.
I’ve seen several clients hire and onboard outsourced staff, and then treat it as a “set and forget” business arrangement. Soon, expectations became unclear, and clients didn’t get what they needed. Keeping in touch with contingent employees is vital to be sure everyone stays on the same page.
3. Don’t Overlook Onboarding and Training
An effective onboarding and training plan sets up outsourced workers for success. By providing the information, resources, guidance, and support needed to perform well alongside in-house employees, you can optimize the business value of contingent staff.
Unfortunately at many companies, onboarding is lackluster — even for in-house hires. In fact, according to Gallup, only 12% of employees think their organization does a great job of onboarding new people. With so much room for improvement, effective onboarding is likely to become a key trend in the future of outsourcing.
In my experience, new hires don’t start strong without complete information and training. They’re less likely to understand their role, and often they’re unsure where to go for answers when questions arise. This can lead to unnecessary mistakes.
However, when organizations plan and deliver thoughtful onboarding, they’re rewarded with motivated people who feel empowered to hit the ground running. So taking time to onboard both in-house and outsourced staff can quickly boost your team’s overall efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness.
4. Watch for Hidden Costs
An outsourced labor strategy is often a budget-friendly move. However, hidden costs can potentially erode any financial advantages. For example, you’ll want to pay close attention to the cost of communication and coordination with outsourced workers, as well as the cost of compliance with local labor laws and regulations.
When selecting an outsourcing provider, choose one that is transparent about prices. Also, look for a provider that adds value with payroll, human resources, and compliance services. This reduces management complexity for your organization and minimizes unexpected additional expenses.
5. Protect Against Security Risks
Unfortunately, data security risks are a modern business reality — especially when you rely on outsourced labor. Of course, some security breaches are unintentional. This is where proper upfront training can build awareness and help staff protect sensitive data and systems.
Regardless, intentional threats still exist. Although your trust in contingent staff will naturally increase over time, proactively protecting your business is mission critical. Some of my clients have experienced security breaches because they shared a little too much data and information before new hires settled into their roles. You don’t want that to happen.
To minimize exposure, carefully review outsourcing provider agreements for indemnification clauses that protect you in the event of a security breach. Also, your organization should use password-sharing tools that make it easy to detect and lock out workers who pose a threat.
A Final Note on Outsourced Labor
For most organizations, business uncertainty and talent shortages continue to play havoc with workforce planning. In this environment, it’s critical to determine how your organization can operate effectively and efficiently, no matter what. Hiring the right people is essential. But if you’re reducing headcount or slowing your hiring rate, outsourced labor is an attractive alternative. Relying on contingent staff to augment your in-house team can help you cut expenses and improve business efficiency without compromising core functions. And when managed well, this solution can help your organization effectively weather today’s economic challenges.