The COVID pandemic has led many organisations to reduce their workforce. As business reduced, so did the need for employees in many business sectors. All organisations dealing with customer-facing activities were hard hit, from the airline industry to hospitality, catering, and retail. For those who have survived, a new challenge is around the corner – recruiting to meet increasing demand. Recruiting may not only mean looking for more employees but looking for new skillsets.
Several options exist to bring the workforce numbers back up to meet demand, including new recruiting, re-employing staff previously made redundant, outsourcing, or contracting with freelancers. When a re-skilled workforce is needed, there is also the option of searching for internal talent.
Here are some of the benefits and disadvantages of each choice in the context of the current work climate.
1. New Recruiting
New recruiting is expensive but can seem like the most straightforward path when an organisation wants new skills or a fresh outlook. The benefits of this choice include re-envisaging teams, bringing in new skills, changing employee demographics, and sometimes establishing new salary and benefits bases.
Apart from the costs involved, the disadvantages include having to induct new employees, the effort involved in getting new employees to embrace company culture, and building organisation-specific work skills. With the more prevalent remote working model, it is also challenging to recruit and manage new employees with no existing manager or team relationship in place.
2. Re-Employing Previous Employees
The idea of re-recruiting employees who were let go of presents as the ideal scenario, particularly if recruiting into the same roles as previously held.
Organisations need to follow due processes and ensure that employees fully understand the terms and conditions of joining. For example, some ex-employees may feel they can maintain their length of service and associated benefits, although the new contract starts from the new date of joining.
Obvious benefits include reduced recruitment expenses, reduced training needs, existing awareness of company culture, rules and policies, a working network, and developed team relationships. In addition to the organisational benefits, there is also a sense of moral right in bringing back good employees who may have suffered from losing their jobs through no fault of their own.
Goodwill resulting from this choice may extend into a raised morale and engagement across the employee-base. The individual and their strengths and weaknesses are known, and this reduces risk.
Despite all of these advantages, there are also potential drawbacks. The individual may expect a different package to be convinced to return. Ex. employees may also privately hold a grudge against the management or HR personnel involved in the original selection to let them go, impacting future work and relationships. It may be that the organisation has had to change considerably to survive. Therefore, hiring an ex-employee may not provide you with the needed skillset or may no longer be a fit for the organisation as a whole and come in with old ways of working that can hurt team performance.
3. Outsource Suppliers
When using outsourced suppliers to provide workforce elements, organisations need to select their partner carefully to ensure that any individuals provided will be of the right quality and fit for their needs.
The benefits of using an outsource supplier include a fixed cost base, reduced training as the individuals should be already skilled to a large extent, the flexibility to reduce or add as business demand fluctuates, and the supplier’s responsibility to cover core HR tasks.
There are disadvantages to using an outsource supplier, and these include building a dependence on the supplier, the potential for not finding the correct skillset when required, lack of loyalty by the individual to the organisation, and risk that the individual will not fit into the company culture, but be seen and function as an outsider.
Freelance workers have similar pros and cons to using outsource suppliers but can be easier to find and cheaper to employ. A freelance worker is usually an expert in their field and can bring in much-needed skills at a relatively low cost. On the negative side, they may sit outside company system networks and find it challenging to collaborate with teams. Longer-term, it may be difficult for organisations to maintain standards and consistency if they use multiple freelancers in a role and cannot recruit the same resources each time. Changing freelancers limits the ability to create bonding amongst team members and can impact team dynamics. Freelancers are also not used to recording their time in the same way as employees, and they may find company rules for time and attendance restrictive.
5. Internal Talent
If an organisation is looking for refreshed skillsets rather than increasing employee numbers, it is becoming more common to start the search internally. More flexibility in ways of working has led to a relaxation of attitudes where organisations are now more willing to accept learning curves and broader skillsets as a fit to role. Internal talent searches are also used to fill positions temporarily; for example, the business turndown during COVID led to many recruitment teams being re-deployed to other parts of the organisation, such as customer-facing call centres.
Searching for talent inside the organisation is an excellent way to upskill employees and provide greater engagement and growth opportunities. Working across departments and teams creates a more profound sense of belonging and a much greater awareness of how the organisation operates and the internal dependencies. Enabling employees to move between projects and teams allows them to create broader networks and may prepare them for future higher-level vacancies within the organisation.
There are issues to watch out for, including temporary assignments that end up being permanent due to poaching of individuals, difficulties for managers to deal with changing team members, over-confidence in potentially untested skillsets, and difficulty in ensuring that the selection process is seen to be fair. Other problems may be a restricted talent pool in smaller organisations and that circulating employees internally denies the culture benefits of introducing new ideas and experience from elsewhere.
Contact us at HRBluSky today to explore how we can support you in managing your recruitment choices.