What Is an Elastic Workforce?

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The need for staff flexibility has always been prevalent, as demand is rarely static year-round. But the pandemic has brought this idea to the forefront. How can organizations cope when demand suddenly falls off a cliff and then surges again a few months later?

When demand falls dramatically, tough decisions have to be made. Staff are let go, and many go on to find other jobs. But then when demand picks back up again, businesses are left scrambling for enough staff to meet consumer needs and will find that, despite high unemployment figures, hiring quickly isn’t as seamless as they would like. They still have to find the right fit and still need to have time for training and getting new hires up to speed.

Elastic Workforces to the Rescue

This is where an elastic workforce can come into play. Even if you haven’t heard of an elastic workforce, chances are you’ve seen it in action in some form. In this instance, elasticity refers to the ability to stretch to meet staffing needs or contract the workforce easily when business decreases.

For many businesses, this takes the form of hiring independent contractors who remain available to assist the company when demand increases too quickly to be met with regular staffing, but this is just one example of how an organization can have more elasticity in its workforce. Here are a few more:

  • Have fewer expectations around work hours. By having a more flexible work schedule, employees are more likely to be able to accommodate demand fluctuations. The organization can set the expectation that some weeks or months will be busier, and employees won’t be penalized when they work less when demand wanes.
  • Provide more opportunities for on-the-job training and cross-training. By allowing people to learn more about their job and the jobs of those around them, you create flexibility in the existing workforce. This means more employees will be ready to take on new responsibilities when the time comes, which will require a shorter time frame than when hiring someone new…

Source: HR Daily Advisor

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