Staffing For Careers

Staffing For Careers

Staffing for careers works on the premise that aim at linking people, their aspirations, skills, and capabilities to an organisational purpose, despite the inherent disconnect between the staffing firm and the client firm.


Defining Staffing for Careers


As organisations scale and deploy staff into staffing companies to perform continuing organisational roles, yet, are not a part of the enterprise payroll, those employees, have still got to be attracted, trained and career planned. Consistent deployment of such a programme is termed as Staffing for Careers. The said staff needs to feel like an employee of the client organisation, despite not being a part of that client company. They sit alongside the other full-time client staff members, in adjoining work stations, yet knowing that their payroll is processed by an outsourced enterprise. In spite of an inherent contradiction in the scenario, organisations will need to plan and programme manage careers for such staff members. These outsourced staffed employees are well trained, smart, and shape themselves into an effective talent pool. Workforce planning demonstrate the need for a formal process and support to build a stable staffing career.


Many organisations have begun following a formal process for an HR policy, and process review from the perspective of good industry practices, covering various HR processes in the organisation, including a review of current HR Processes dashboard, including metrics being measured and their adequacy from an industry and organisational perspective, and identification of key gaps and possible improvement in the above areas which may be further prioritized as per the organisational requirement. The Conference Board investigated how organisations use processes such as strategic workforce planning to project where, when, and to what extent they will be affected by employee retirements. “Prior to the current economic downturn, several studies predicted companies would face looming disaster from projected baby boomer retirements. Only by analyzing their own workforce data, as opposed to data from the labour force overall, can employers determine whether retirements present a threat, an opportunity, or a non‑issue to their operations. Like all workforce projections, those that focus on age and retirement eligibility need to be revisited regularly to adjust for changes in business strategy or the operating environment.”


In a 2015 Sloan Management Review (SMR) paper, “What High-Potential Managers Want”, Hamori, Koyuncu, Cao, and Graf, write, “Today’s talented young professionals have a different approach to their careers — and a very different attitude toward organisational loyalty — than earlier generations. Here’s what you need to know to retain and develop this generation of young managers. Talented professionals exhibit a new approach to both their careers and organisational loyalty. The generation that started to enter the workforce a decade ago (often called Generation Y) will account for the majority of workers over the next 40 years. These employees have been said to differ remarkably from previous generations in work‑related expectations- They attach greater importance to extrinsic values such as money or image, and also to leisure. They consider “additional compensation” and “additional bonuses and financial incentives” the two most effective retention strategies for employers. Intrinsic values such as attachment to a community appear to be less important to them. They are reported to show less concern for others, lower need for social approval, and higher self-esteem and even narcissism than earlier generations of employees. Are these early-career employees putting their values into practice in the workplace? While previous studies give a thorough picture of the values they hold, they say little about the work-related behaviors that result from these values. In an effort to cover this gap, we analyzed the work behaviors and experiences of young professionals.”


A Strategic Staffing Need


Are these early-career employees, despite their presence in a third-party unit, putting their values, competencies and skills into practice in the workplace? While past studies give a thorough picture of the values they hold, they say little about the work-related behaviours that result from these values. In an effort to cover this gap, our firm analyzed the work behaviours and experiences of professionals from staffing firms. The set of mature, knowledge, abilities, personal attributes and skills (MKAPS), which are required of all employees in an organisation, irrespective of the role and responsibility, and level may be termed as a Strategic Staffing Need. As with every component of their workforce, companies must evaluate and manage their millennial and mature workers, and plan for the transition of the roles they fill. Demographic trends have also driven some industries to actively recruit mature workers. They are not just the behavioural aspects of the organisational culture and its capabilities, but are also a function of supply and demand for staffing talent skills. Example of a universal staffing could be Continuous Improvement that could be defined as “Demonstrating dedication to applying continuous quality improvements in business processes and services through effective supply. Facilitating learning from experience to enhance operations and service delivery and applying new and novel approaches to achieving business goals.”


Digital Organisations, apart from being high users of staffing also have the highest use of outcomes in career planning. Digital companies, thanks to their analytics and system friendly processes, are able to use the outcomes from developmental interventions for Career Planning given their need to build a degree of specialization based on staffing needs, workforce plans and behavioral competencies. Many experts also believe that it is a war for talent situation amongst consulting firms to attract and retain high performing talent, and therefore the need to focus on helping consultants build long-term careers. Consulting companies also deploy consultants to specific roles based on their competencies. For example, those with significant client management skills are placed in sales and client management, whereas those with strong project management skills are made responsible for managing significant sized projects and large-scale programmes. All industries have an average use of the outcomes in Career Planning. HR managers in consulting firms were of the opinion that compensation; rewards, bonuses, career and promotion planning are two critical facets of employee’s personal goals.


Nurturing future talent


Often a question left half answered is the definition of talent as it impacts organisational staffing for skills needs. Finding and nurturing future talent is for sure a crying need, and a primary concern, says, Martha Lagace in HBSWK December 2006. “How can they identify top people, train them, and—here's the catch—retain them? And do so in the face of ever-increasing global challenges?” HBS Professors W. Earl Sasser and Das Narayandas, faculty of the School's Executive Education offering "Programme for Leadership Development (PLD): Accelerating the Careers of High-Potential Leaders," are experts on the subject. PLD invites executives with ten to fifteen years of experience to attend four modules that focus on areas such as foundational skills, critical business functions, strategy formulation and implementation, and personal leadership. For the organisation, according to Sasser and Narayandas, talent is key to competitive advantage. And for the talented employee, a huge challenge is to rise above a single function and gain a broad understanding of the business, especially as it operates globally. "Leadership by definition is a multifaceted term," says Narayandas, the James J. Hill Professor of Business Administration and Chair of the Programme for Leadership Development. "Are you managing yourself, are you managing upwards or the people below or laterally, or the firm, industry, society? You can lead at so many levels. That complexity is only going up. It's just not a question of leading a small team. It's about leadership in ideas, in actions.” Employees in large and small organisations share an advantage, according to Sasser, a Baker Foundation Professor on targeting talent. These employees enjoy access to talent-identification systems. Big organisations can point to formal programmes led by individuals whose sole responsibility is to find and mentor up-and-comers. And small companies can shine in talent identification too, as CEOs take note of future stars. But medium-sized organisations have utmost difficulty with talent identification because these companies often lack the infrastructure and human resources capabilities, says Sasser. “With or without talent identification programmes, how likely are future leaders to recognize leadership qualities in themselves? It’s about leadership in ideas, in actions.”


There is also an issue around the fact that staffing career processes cannot be seamlessly integrated with the business processes of business planning and goal setting, resource acquisition, resource utilization, measurement of results and feedback. Information pertaining to various stages in an employee’s life cycle such as search, selection, socialization, training, goal setting, performance appraisal, compensation and rewards, facilities and benefits and separation not be available in a transparent manner to the employee, the line manager concerned and the HR department.


“It’s a bad time to be an intermediary — at least in the traditional sense of the word. As the makers of products seek to close the distance to those who buy and use those products, and as layers of traditional management hierarchy fall away, the real worth is increasingly found at the extremes of value chains and organisations, rather than at the center. There was once a time when the “middleman” was an indispensable resource” says Paul Michelman. In SMR 2017 article titled “Don’t Get Caught in the Middle”, he writes, “sometimes things move so fast in our digitized world that it can feel as if there is no safe place to position yourself — or your organisation. How do you anticipate where to go next — whether considering your company’s strategy or your own career — when the winds of change sweep from every direction? You simply can’t know the right move for certain. And even when you do make a good call, the clock is ticking; you’ll soon face a new threat of obsolescence. As I’ve written in the past, we all need to accept that change is continual; we must learn to embrace change rather than fight it. Similarly, we need to accept that there are no safe havens — for us or our companies. We simply must be prepared to stay on the move. But whatever you do next, wherever you go, don’t head for the middle. Not the middle of a relationship, not the middle of an organisation. Intermediaries facilitated transactions between producers and consumers; they interpreted high-level corporate strategy and connected it to frontline execution; they monitored and herded; and they closed the gaps between disconnected entities that required one another for survival.”


For integrating career programmes for staffing staff, a set of knowledge, abilities, personal attributes and skills - KAPS required of all individuals whose work directly enables a core process or set of processes needs to be established. They are the minimum functional “staffing need” that employees in a particular function must have irrespective of role and the level of responsibility in the function. These are required in addition to universal staffing competencies. An example of a process competency could be accounts payable in the Materials department that could be defined as “Knowledge of accounting principles and issues and audit guidelines for healthcare organisations, knowledge of the reimbursement mechanisms including cost reports. Knowledge of the processes needed to successfully manage, validate and pay all accounts payable including credits, claims, charges and warranties and related accounting and reporting of financial and management information.”


Staffing for careers works on the premise that aim at linking people, their aspirations, skills and capabilities to an organisational purpose, despite the inherent disconnect between the staffing firm and the client firm. The competency focus gives insights into the process of aligning the human resources of an organisation with the vision and mission required for short and long-term staffing. It tries to chart out the differences between the core competencies of an organisation, the individual competencies of an employee, and collective staffing competencies required to deliver value to a project or an engagement. Just as every product or business unit must follow a business strategy to improve its competitive position, every corporation must decide its orientation towards a staffing competence based growth by asking the following questions: Is career growth aligned with the core competence of the client organisation? Should we expand, cut back, or continue our operations unchanged given the inherent uncertainty in this business model (Staffing depends on client contract continuity)? Should we concentrate our activities within our current industry or should we diversify into other industries? Similarly, what should be our career based product /asset portfolio that can maximize value? If we want to grow and expand, should we do so through internal development or through external acquisitions, mergers, or joint ventures? Do we have the human resource to help make growth happen? Are our talent management - people capabilities in sync with the core competencies and strategy of the organisation? In effect, a staffing based management process helps nurture a growth strategy in a business organisation.



Dr. Ganesh Shermon is Managing Partner at RiverForest Group.


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