Surveys show that 91% of companies outsource in some capacity. This includes everything from hiring marketing firms to run temporary campaigns to having on-site contractors that equal or even outnumber the full-time employees that they work alongside.
As contingent staffing has gained popularity, the variety of options has increased significantly This makes it possible to find solutions that almost perfectly meet your needs; however, it can be challenging to sort through all the different companies and figure out which one is the best fit.
Here are six things to consider when you’re searching for a contingent staffing solution.
1) Temporary, Long-Term or Flexible Solutions
The first thing you need to decide when looking for contingent workers is the duration of support you need. Since many staffing companies only offer one of three solutions, making this decision narrows your options.
Here are the three broad options:
- Temporary solutions allow you to outsource a specific project or enlist help for a defined period. This is ideal if you need project-specific help or support during a busy season.
- Long-term solutions last indefinitely and are ideal when you need on-going help with a particular process. These workers act like in-house employees, and you can find full-time or part-time options depending on how much support you need.
- Flexible solutions allow you to access longer-term support without committing to lengthy contracts. This option also allows you to scale the amount of support you receive up or down as your business ebbs and flows.
Depending on how much work you’re outsourcing, you may need one or all three of these options to cover different scopes of work.
2) Working Hours and Reliability
If you hire full-time support, getting reliable help during working hours is no issue. However, if you plan to leverage temporary or outsourced support from remote contingent workers, consider what hours they’re available.
Some staffing solutions work in your time zone to ensure ease of communication. Still, many others, particularly independent contractors, set their hours that may or may not be convenient for you. To avoid running into issues, look for options that are available when you are.
In addition to making sure your contingent workers are available when you need them, you also want to consider what happens when they’re sick or on vacation. If you’re offloading project-based work with agreed deadlines, this may not be a concern for you as long as they complete the project on-time.
However, if you’re dependent on a worker to tackle tasks daily, you or your staffing provider needs to plan for when they’re out.
At Prialto, we understand that having contingent workers out for any reason can be extremely disruptive to the full-time employees they’re supporting. So, to ensure our virtual assistants get the time off they need without impacting our clients, we train back-up VAs who provide support whenever a primary assistant is out of the office. Back-ups step in whenever a client has an urgent request that exceeds their allotted hours for a particular day or week.
When looking for a contingent staffing solution, watch for these kinds of reliability features to prevent productivity disruptions.
3) Dedicated or Availability-Based Support Teams
When searching for a contingent staffing solution, be aware that there are two general types of staffing:
- Dedicated - You’re assigned an individual or team who does all of the work for your account and interacts with you regularly.
- Availability-based - You offload projects to an account manager who assigns them to unknown people at the outsourcing company.
If the work you’re outsourcing is nuanced and requires any training from you, such as personalized sales or admin support, choose a company that assigns you dedicated contingent workers who tackle all of your projects. Having dedicated workers allows for open communication and tends to provide more consistent performance.
However, if you’re outsourcing projects to highly specialized teams such as software developers, you can achieve positive results by just working with an account manager who captures your vision.
4) IT Capabilities and Security
Whenever you invite external workers to support your organization, there are going to be security risks. How much risk depends on a variety of factors, including:
- What tools you give contingent workers access to
- What levels of access you give them
- How many workers access your systems
- Device capability
- Their existing knowledge of your tools and how to avoid making errors
- IT security policies and software that workers use
- NDA and other security protections provided by the staffing company
Some of these factors are solely controlled by the type of work you’re outsourcing. However, others, such as workers’ prior experience with your systems and their IT security procedures varies depending on who you hire. Some contingent workers use their personal computers and take minimal actions to ensure their device is secure. Others leverage enterprise-grade IT security measures to minimize the risk for their clients.
When searching for a staffing solution, weigh all these factors to find support that has a level of risk that you're comfortable with.
5) Estimated Training Requirements
The amount of training you have to provide contingent workers has a significant impact on how quickly your team gains productivity support from your investment. Your goal should be to find experienced staffing that requires minimal training; however, this does vary based on the type of work you’re offloading.
If you’re hiring contractors to work alongside your full-time employees on a highly specialized project, you can expect to invest in training since it’ll be almost impossible to find staff with prior experience with what you’re doing.
However, if you’re outsourcing tasks that are popular among other organizations, look for staffing companies that train their workers on a set of core processes. This ensures that when you hire them for similar work, they require a minimal time investment from your team to get up and running.
6) The Amount of Time Required to Manage Them
Just like in-house employees, contingent workers need a manager. Depending on if you hire an independent contractor or a professional services provider, the manager can be you or someone at the staffing company.
While independent contractors tend to be cheaper, they also are your sole responsibility to manage. If you, or someone on your team, have time to answer all of your contingent workers’ small questions, coach them on ways to improve, and keep them engaged, then the cost-saving may be worth it.
However, if you’re busy and only have time to quickly offload projects and review completed deliverables, consider hiring a managed service. These staffing solutions provide a dedicated account manager who takes full responsibility for ensuring your work gets done on time and the right way. Whenever you want to offload new projects or change performance expectations, send them a quick message, and they’ll take care of it so you can focus on the activities that matter most.
Want admin, sales, or ops support without the hassle? Our virtual assistant services enable busy entrepreneurs and executives to focus on the activities that drive their success while a VA handles all of their tedious, repetitive tasks.
To learn more about our managed service approach to virtual assistant services, download our free guide.
About the Author: Emily leads Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.