This month, we’ve discussed creating strategic staffing plans for your clients and their companies. Of course, the importance of meeting clients’ staffing objectives is key to your success as a staffing agency.
However, what’s often underestimated is the importance of your own staffing strategy. The sheer number of staffing employees makes your in-house strategy critical.
In temporary and contract employees alone, America’s staffing companies hire nearly 17 million people during the course of a year, according to 2019 staffing industry insights from the American Staffing Association (ASA). During an average week, more than 3 million temporary and contract employees work for staffing agencies in the U.S.
And in this $491 billion industry, your agency can’t afford to be understaffed or left without the best-fitting employees. It’s only when you have an effective strategy in place and strong execution that you can fully meet your clients’ staffing demands.
We’re encouraging you to take some time for self-care to reevaluate your in-house strategic staffing plan. Whether it needs slight updates, a full overhaul, or you’re just getting a plan together, our guide has you covered.
As your clients’ staffing needs shift, so do your own. There are times when you may only need your full-time employees and a few temporary ones. During other periods, however, your team requires constant assistance from temporary employees. Then there are the moments when you realize the agency has grown and needs more permanent roles.
Unfortunately, you can’t always anticipate your agency’s needs. The staffing industry is booming, but there are many unpredictable factors impacting client demands and, in turn, your own. An analysis of current and future staffing needs helps you gain the most accurate insights.
Review your current situation to determine how many part-time, full-time, and temporary employees you have on staff. Are they keeping up with demands, or are you facing a shortage? Look at your current clients, the time of year, and if any are in the midst of a busy season. Use this information to set a benchmark of where you are now and how staffing will fluctuate in regards to your staffing agency’s seasonal hiring throughout the year.
Candidates’ expectations and needs
Strategic staffing isn’t solely about your needs and expectations of future employees. It’s just as much about what candidates expect from you as a potential employer.
For example, according to the previously mentioned ASA insight sheet, half (49%) of staffing employees say they use their roles as a way to get a permanent job. Another nine out of 10 said staffing work makes them more employable.
Looking past motivators, what do candidates need to thrive? Some may desire flexible schedules or work best under a specific leadership style. Understanding what your ideal candidate needs now gives you the power to target, attract, and nurture them in the future.
Survey your current team to understand what employees appreciate most about the agency and their roles. Ask questions to reveal both pros and cons, such as:
- What do leaders do to ensure your needs and expectations are met?
- What do you wish was available to you?
- Why did you choose this agency over others?
How it all aligns
Use your employees’ responses to the questions above to gauge if current candidates will fit well with your team. For example, if someone desires a flexible schedule, and that’s something your team wishes was available to them, your agency may not be a good fit for him or her right now.
Or, consider the potential for temporary employees to move into permanent roles. If you know permanent opportunities will open in a few months and a candidate reveals they want to become a dedicated employee, their expectations align with what you have to offer.
Keep notes on promising candidates whose expectations don’t align with your agency’s immediate and foreseeable future. They may not fit now, but when a staffing surge occurs, you’ll have them prepped and ready in your pipeline.
Your SWOT analysis
Marketers and company leaders use SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analyses to create business strategies. But it’s important to identify all these factors as they relate to your own staffing needs.
Your strengths, for instance, would be what you do well in identifying, sourcing, and hiring candidates. Weaknesses, on the other hand, would be where your staffing team falls short in these three areas.
Once you’ve pinpointed each element of your SWOT analysis, look for opportunities for improvement. For example, could your team have a shorter hiring process? Should managers be involved more/less? Lastly, it’s critical to determine your key threats. This could be other agencies sourcing the same talent. Or it could be a skill gap in the requirements candidates need to succeed in a role.
Use this information when creating your strategy. Together, details on your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats give you the power to overcome in-house staffing downfalls. If you’ve been fixating on one area and it now falls into your strengths, turn your attention to a weakness that needs improvement.
History frequently repeats itself in the staffing world. Even with unpredictable circumstances — like the changing economy or clients impacted by the weather — you have the potential to come close to the same staffing needs year-after-year.
Review client lists from prior years to prepare yourself for the future. Analyze clients’ demands in the past based on their slow, average, and busy seasons. Then, determine how well-equipped you were to meet their needs, especially during the hectic months.
Also, distinguish external factors that impacted specific industries’ busy seasons and overall success in the past. Compare those changes with your own staffing numbers at the time to determine how they were affected by the fluctuation.
As you discover patterns, be sure to also assess how your client list has changed over the years. If you have new clients in different industries, evaluate how their demands and busy seasons alter your strategy.
Future staffing projections
You know the importance of future staffing projections and probably already have one in place. But unfortunately, the demands of clients often get in the way of reviewing these numbers. Your strategic staffing plans then suffer, which causes a chain reaction throughout the agency and your clients.
Be intentional with your tools at all times. Set bi-quarterly reminders to review your future staffing projections with the entire in-house staffing team. If the agency’s customer list has evolved, perform a new analysis to ensure you’re on target.
Characteristics of successful employees
Strategic staffing isn’t just about determining the number of employees necessary to keep up with clients’ demands. It’s about knowing which current and former employees are successful — and understanding why.
Recognizing this improves your ability to target specific candidates. Especially when you’re focused on hiring a multitude of temporary employees, it’s critical to quickly evaluate if they’ll be successful in a role. Insight regarding the success of current and former employees helps you prepare for this challenge.
Identify a few high-performing current and former employees. Assess what skills, characteristics, and personality traits made them excel in their role. Look to see if they also had similar career goals and expectations for your agency.
Perform the same evaluation on employees who didn’t work out, then compare the results. When you combine this information, you’ll have the key details of what a successful, dedicated employee looks like.
As you move forward in the planning process, use these insights to create all branding and application materials.
A branding strategy
Using the characteristics of successful and satisfied employees, design a branding strategy to highlight your agency as a top option for candidates. Identify where your target candidates spend their time, what’s most important to them, and what aspects of your agency will stand out most.
A targeted branding approach like this decreases the number of ill-fitting candidates filtering into your talent pipeline. As a result, you reduce the amount of time wasted reviewing mismatched applications, spend more time with quality candidates, and ultimately decrease your time-to-hire.
Use personalized video messages to brand your agency and specifically target top candidates. Add a short video from you or other team members to your email signature to humanize communication. As candidates make a personal connection with the agency, your relationship naturally grows.
A clear candidate assessment plan
A straightforward and strategic staffing assessment plan ensures a quick and accurate hiring process. In the staffing world — where competition is fierce — this is critical.
Assessment plans require a clear timeline, standardized interview processes, and predetermined evaluation criteria. Place deadlines within the final role closing date to keep everyone involved in the process on schedule. This keeps application material and interview evaluations moving forward.
Also, make the entire interview process standardized, along with the evaluation criteria. Your team should have set questions, collaboration techniques, and evaluation notes prepared for each role.
When working with an entire hiring team, you need the right staffing tools to move the process along seamlessly. Live video interviews are a great place to start — they enhance collaboration and facilitate fair and effective evaluations.
The initial interviewer can record the conversation and share it with the entire hiring team. That way, members don’t need to fit the interview into their schedule but still get to watch the interaction and gain perspective on the candidate’s personality.