You've likely noticed that the number of temporary and contract workers in your workplace has been steadily increasing and probably more than ever since the start of our last recession in late 2007. In December 2013, we learned that the economy added a disappointing 74,000 jobs—but even more disappointing for some was the fact that over 40% of those 74,000 jobs were temporary positions, targeted for project work, or to last for short periods. Since the 2007-2008 recessions, the number of temporary or contingent jobs has outpaced the growth in core positions by a ratio of 2-to-1, a labor trend poised to be replicated for the next decade. Since the publication of Charles Handy’s Age of Unreason in 1989, Prof. Handy and other futurists have predicted the growth of non-traditional staffing models. Believing that workforce flexibility would be a key driver of organizational success in a global marketplace, futurists rightly projected that outsourcing the employer relationship was one of the primary ways companies could ensure workplace flexibility. Up and downsizing core workforces are costly propositions. Up and downsizing a workforce composed of workers who aren't your employees, and are only attached to your workforce on a temporary basis, not so much. While the earliest predictions regarding the relationship between flexible to core workers, frequently targeted to reach 40% have fallen short, current research is still pointing to employers increased reliance on flexible labor pools to meet their business needs. In their 2012 Workforce Management Report, the Aberdeen Group predicted that 27% of the worker population will be attached to the workforce in temporary, contingent, or other non-traditional roles. For some companies these types of predictions create discomfort and angst. For others, they earmark opportunities to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. If current trends hold up and flexible workforce solutions become the staffing strategies of choice, it is important to ask just how forward thinking your company has become in terms of embracing this shift in workforce demographics. Do you tend to view your flexible workforce as an annoyance—a necessary evil that is only in place to deal with temporary issues or periods of uncertainty? Or, is it embraced as a workforce solution that your company can use to set itself apart from its less nimble counterparts? Here are ten questions you can ask yourself to find out if you’re ready to turn your flexible workforce into a competitive advantage. 1. How transparent are the staffing strategies already in place? Do you know when, where and why your company will use a flexible workforce model instead of hiring direct? Is there a clear philosophy about what staffing scenarios dictate flexible rather than core staffing solutions? 2. Is temporary or contract staffing visible in your operating budgets and considered a part of your overall staffing costs—or do the costs of your temporary and contract workers get buried somewhere in administrative overhead, making it impossible to identify what your company is actually spending on the people it needs to get work done? 3. How effectively have you integrated your core employee screening and selection standards with the standards applied to your flexible workers? Do these two components of your staffing operation tend to work together or are they seen as two different functions with little to no overlap? 4. Have you optimized how your company uses temp-to-hire auditioning processes as a way to leverage your internal recruiting resources, reduce turnover, and lower your costs of hire? How carefully have you thought through your temp-to-hire auditions to ensure they allow the right talent to be identified, auditioned or to surface during the audition? To be hired after the audition has been completed? 5. How often and in what ways do you work with your temporary staffing agencies as talent acquisition partners? How often do you use their talent pools for direct hires? If not, why not? 6. What is it costing you to select and manage your current suppliers? Are you getting the results you need? How many suppliers are you currently using to deliver your flexible workforce? What have you done to vet these suppliers and/or manage their service performance? What controls have you implemented to ensure uniformity in what is paid to your flexible workers and/or the suppliers delivering them to your organization? 7. When was the last time you did an analysis of the relative costs of an internal vs. internal employer solution - hiring direct as opposed to using the services of a third party employer? Are you up to date on the current trends in staffing to know what kind of employer of record services and service platforms you might use to drive down your overall staffing costs? 8. How do you know if the monies you are currently spending on your flexible workforce are market competitive? When was the last time you compared you current bill rates and pricing models with what might be available in the staffing marketplace? 9. When was the last time you reviewed your risk mitigation policies and practices specific to your flexible workforce - co-employment, the handling of confidential or proprietary information, and access to facilities, equipment or other security issues, etc.? How safe do you feel from unknown legal or accounting liabilities associated with an increased level of flexible workforce complexity? 10. Have you established some key performance metrics and standards for your staffing operation—flex and core? Are you reviewing your staffing performance regularly to improve internal efficiencies and the ease with which your company has access to flexible workforce solutions? The PACE Staffing Network has been helping clients design and optimize their flexible staffing solutions for close to three decades. We believe that the right mix of core and non-core employees integrated inside a larger talent acquisition strategy can become a significant and competitive advantage for companies willing to embrace change. For a complimentary consultation to assess just how ready your company is for the new world of flexible work models that is fast becoming the marketplace norm, contact Nancy Swanson our Vice President of Partnership Development at firstname.lastname@example.org.