Turning The Challenges Of Staff Augmentation Into Opportunities
Irene Jimenez/SweetRush

Challenges Of Staff Augmentation: How To Turn Those Into Opportunities

Staffing is a complicated endeavor. After many years of working with clients on their team-building and staffing needs, our Talent Solutions team at SweetRush understands how difficult it can be, not just to find the right individual to complete a client’s team, but to make it all work smoothly, even after the temporary talent has joined their team.

After all, we are not moving inanimate objects around. We’re working with human beings, who can be complex and hard to predict, prone to surprising behavior, subject to feelings, and fueled by more than just money.

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This could make a client considering bringing temporary talent on board uneasy about that decision. Managing your core team, after all, is hard enough. Are there special concerns with temporary talent that will add to your management challenges?

We understand this predicament. But, we have seen that most of the trials of staff augmentation of utilizing temporary talent, that worry our clients, can be turned upside down, becoming opportunities for our clients to get the best from their new, temporary employees.

Let’s take a look.

The Repercussions Of The Low Unemployment Rate

As of February 2019, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was at 3.8%, one of the lowest rates in history, according to the U.S. Labor Department [1]. While this is objectively good news for everybody, it can present a complex scenario for anyone who needs skilled temporary talent: the lower the unemployment rate, the smaller the pool of talent for all of us to draw from.

This scenario increases the challenges facing those of us who need to build teams. Wouldn’t it be safe to assume that all the best workers have already found full-time positions? How can clients get top-quality talent in a reasonable amount of time if so few people are currently looking for jobs?

While this could certainly be seen as an obstacle, I’d like to argue that, instead, this is a great occasion for clients to entrust their staffing needs to an experienced vendor.

At SweetRush, we work with plenty of talent who stay with us for years and are part of our talent pool; on top of that, we are constantly recruiting L&D professionals day in and day out. The group of talent we work with is constantly shifting, and there is a good chance one of our professionals will become available and be a great candidate for you.

There are many freelancers who have chosen and prefer a project-to-project lifestyle. They are often very experienced individuals who enjoy working hard as well as the breaks in and flexibility with their working hours.

We have many varied pros in our talent reservoir, and while unemployment is arguably low, we have such strong talent to draw upon. So while that low rate can sometimes make it a bit harder to find a specific kind of professional who fulfills our clients’ needs, it’s not something we can’t deal with: looking for new recruits is what we live and breathe for.

It's quite understandable that staffing can be hard enough for our clients to do on their own, even in normal circumstances. As we’ve established in a previous article, searching, interviewing, vetting, and contracting are focused efforts you probably don’t have time for. Now, imagine trying to find a candidate for your vacancy on your own when available labor is low. In other words, the expertise of a staff augmentation vendor becomes even more valuable, as we have the tools, relationships with talent, experience, and knowledge to conduct a more efficient, effective talent hunt.

How To Separate The Wheat From The Chaff And Get Fully Committed Temporary Talent

Dealing with human beings can be complicated. It can be very difficult to predict how they’re going to behave; which is why dealing with no-shows, cancellations, and general client dissatisfaction are risks when trying to staff any position, temporary or not.

As I’ve said before, choosing to work with a staff augmentation vendor you can trust means you are offloading the recruiting and staffing duties, which are neither your specialty nor likely the best use of your time, to a vendor who will devote their focus, time, and unique processes and technologies to find the right person for your needs.

From experience, those of us who focus on talent acquisition have a sort of "spidey sense", as Ann Cathers, Talent Solutions Consultant at SweetRush, calls it. We have an especially keen eye that, during the recruiting process, enables us to weed out candidates who are not up to snuff. Do they reply quickly to work-related emails? Do they show up to interviews on time? Are they prompt for the client interview? Are they proactive and have a good disposition? These are little things that definitely add up.

There are so many steps in the staff augmentation process, and after casting the net to find talent, the next stage of work in vetting the talent begins. Finding and screening talent is what staff augmentation vendors do all the time. It’s why they are experts in separating the wheat from the chaff.

Keeping Morale Up: A Joint Effort

Imagine you are sitting in an office for six months, working for an organization on a specific project, alongside people who are full-time employees of that company. Despite the fact that you’re performing the same or similar tasks, you know you’re not in the same situation. Depending on the individual, that can take a toll on one’s morale and, therefore, productivity. Low morale is certainly a challenge of staff augmentation that must not be overlooked.

“Morale and employee relations problems can arise when you have temps working alongside permanent employees for months, doing the same work and putting in the same hours, but not receiving the same benefits afforded their permanent employee coworkers”, writes author Patricia Schaefer, in an article for BusinessKnowHow [2].

Temporary talent is in a strange position. They may be performing the same work, even sitting in the same office, but they do not have the same status and may not feel they are really part of the team. They are in “contractor limbo”. For us at SweetRush, contractor limbo has been a real concern for a long time, which is why we have steps in our process to avoid or mitigate it.

Before we deploy talent, we go through an orientation process, not only with the professional being placed but with the client, to coach them on how to get the best from their temporary team members. We encourage our clients to pair up each temporary talent with a lunch buddy for their first day at the company. Also, make sure they get a tour of the office, and that steps are taken to integrate these new team members to put them and the permanent team at ease. On our end, we’re in constant communication with the talent, making sure that all is in order; that they are integrated, motivated, and clear about their work; and that they are productive.

Building teams is hard, even more so now that unemployment is low. But the good news is that there are staff augmentation vendors who excel at this effort, are standing by ready to help you find the next great temporary talent for your team, and turn the challenges of staff augmentation into opportunities. Discover more by downloading the eBook Staff Augmentation For Learning And Development: The Agile Talent Solution For Modern Business.

References:

[1] U.S. Economy Loses Steam, Adding Only 20,000 Jobs Last Month

[2] The Pros and Cons of Hiring Temporary Employees

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