The New Workforce Model Recruiters Need to Be Aware Of

As the popularity of contract staffing continues to grow, we have noticed a shift in the way that contractors are being used. Rather than simply being a stop-gap measure in limited circumstances or to test the hiring waters during difficult economic times, we are seeing employers building a blended workforce model that integrates contractors as part of a deliberate, long-term business strategy.

This model consists of a small core group of traditional, direct hire employees surrounded by a larger outer ring of contractors. The direct hires in the core typically have the experience and longevity that drives stability and growth of the business. Therefore, high turnover in this group is highly disruptive.  Meanwhile, the contractors in the outer ring are generally responsible for day-to-day tasks and critical projects. While their work is no less important, turnover in this ring does not have as big of an impact on the business. 


Companies like this model because of the flexibility it provides. The outer ring can easily be adjusted based on business demands. It can grow quickly when extra help is needed, which is especially important with sudden and unexpected peaks. The outer ring can also be reduced quickly when the need passes. This helps companies avoid the ugly layoffs that typically accompany a reduction in force because contractors know from the get-go that their assignments will end.

Here are some examples of how this model is being used:

  1. A company is need need of major computer hardware and/or software upgrades that were neglected during the recession and slow recovery.  Rather than hiring directly, they can bring in contractors for a limited time to complete the projects.
  2. Contracting helps manufacturers navigate frequent ups and downs in production because engineers and other highly skilled contractors can be brought in as needed.
  3. Following major disasters, insurance companies need more adjusters and other workers. They can use contractors to increase their staff during these times without permanently adding to their overhead.
  4. Accounting firms experience annual crunch times, such as year-end reconciliations and tax season.  They can bring in auditors, accountants, and tax experts on a contract basis so they don't have an over-inflated staff the rest of the year.

There are countless other ways this workforce model is being used. Rather than assume open positions will be direct, companies adopting the blended workforce model are analyzing each position to determine whether it may be better suited to the outer ring of contractors.

If you already offer contract staffing, get ready for a surge in job orders, if you haven't already. Companies utilizing this model will have a consistent need for contractors. And because those contractors are responsible for more critical tasks, companies need the quality talent that only you can provide.  You may want to consider expanding your business into additional states and industries to further capitalize on this trend.

For recruiters NOT offering contract staffing, the time to start is NOW.  The business is there for the taking - recruiters report that 80% of contract job orders come from their existing direct hire clients. All you have to do is let your clients know you can place contractors. If you utilize a contract staffing back-office, you can start taking job orders NOW because there will be no ramp-up time or upfront financial investment.

Times are changing rapidly, and the employment landscape is changing with it. But this is a situation where change can be very good.  If you can provide direct hires AND contractors, you are the position to become a valued staffing partner to your clients rather than just a vendor. 

Debbie Fledderjohann is the President of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc.

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