Staffing Solutions in 2011: Looking Ahead

Since I looked back at 2010 in a recent post, I’ll look ahead in this one. And I’ll admit, reading U.S. News and World Report’s annual “50 Best Careers” list got me thinking about staffing challenges and staffing solutions in the year ahead.

According to the article, just about any healthcare position – especially those involving direct care, including massage therapists and dental hygienists – is a safe career bet in 2011. Not surprisingly, technology-related positions will continue to be “hot careers” – although some may be surprised to see “meteorologist” and “hydrologist” alongside “biomedical engineer” and a handful of computer-related positions onU.S. News’ list. Business professionals like financial analysts and public relations specialists are expected to be in demand, along with a smattering of other workers (including translators, technical writers, and court reporters).

So what does this mean for the staffing world? At least three things:

1.      Healthcare institutions need to develop strong staffing solutions. If they don’t, they will – as I noted in a recent blog post – face (potentially expensive) pitfalls like overstaffing, understaffing, and relying too much on soon to retire workers. A strong solution includes 1) comprehensive, long-term, metrics-based planning that minimizes workforce duplication and 2) top-notch software that streamlines hiring, firing, and every employment category in between.

2.      Companies should develop good relationships with staffing agencies. If U.S News is right, finding computer-related help won’t always be easy, and these days, we all depend on computers and the internet to do our jobs. A staffing agency that works with technology professionals will be able to find that programmer or network technician in less time than it takes to start and complete a typical search for an employee. Given that a lot of computer tasks are temporary in nature – for example, setting up an internal network or moving a software program to the cloud – using staffing agencies for contract-based technical staffing solutions makes a lot of sense.

3.      Companies should evaluate (or re-evaluate) their staffing needs for 2011. As regular readers of this blog will know, this is one of the big themes, if not the big theme, of my working life. In my experience, companies with a human capital supply chain plan – even one that isn’t well-developed – do better than those who don’t. Developing a workforce plan takes work, but it almost always results in short-term and long-term cost savings as well as happier, more efficient employees.  More to the point: staffing professionals should read the U.S. News article (and other employment forecasts, like the one from Moody’s Analytics) and apply its predictions to their own situations.

I’ll add this: staffing professionals also need to be flexible in 2011. The economy could perform better or worse than expected, and jobs that defy easy labels may suddenly demand to be filled. As I wrote in my book, a long-term staffing solution is essential for the health of any business, but it should never be implemented too rigidly.


Visit the eEmpACT staffing resources section for more about staffing solutions, staffing software, and other tools for improving human capital management.

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