Staffing encompasses everything from hiring the right employees for your business to making sure that key roles are filled during all of your business’s operating hours. It’s a multi-faceted process that includes recruiting, training, managing, and rewarding employees.
Staffing can also refer to using third-party staffing, recruiting, or employment agencies to help your business get the labor it needs to run smoothly.
When done well, staffing can help your business attract talented employees and operate efficiently from day to day. Staffing is an ongoing process for most companies and it’s important to have an approach that suits your business.
What Does Staffing Involve?
Staffing involves multiple aspects of human resources, including:
- Recruiting new employees for needed job roles
- Onboarding and training new hires
- Scheduling employees on a day-to-day basis
- Managing employees to ensure tasks are fulfilled
- Rewarding employees to improve retention
- Replacing employees who leave your business with new hires
Staffing touches on all of the key aspects of the employee lifecycle and provides a throughline for the many roles of an HR department.
Many businesses choose to manage all of the elements of staffing with an in-house HR team. Others, however, prefer to outsource some or all of their needs to third-party staffing agencies.
Staffing vs recruiting
The two terms are often posed as contrasting processes, but they’re actually closely related. In fact, staffing necessarily involves recruiting. It’s how companies fill open roles.
Recruitment refers to the process of finding talented job candidates, conducting an interview process, and negotiating with a candidate to hire them. Staffing includes recruitment plus many of the things that come after it, such as onboarding, training, and scheduling.
Why Is Staffing Important?
Staffing is crucial to ensuring that your business can operate at maximum productivity and meet the needs of your customers.
Good staffing means that you have the right employees in the right roles. It also means that these roles are filled during all the hours they’re needed. Employees can then focus on the work they do best and trust that everyone else in your organization is doing the same. In other words, your business can operate as it’s intended to.
As employees turn over, good staffing also provides a pipeline for replacing them. This ensures that even though employees don’t stay with your company forever, your business can keep functioning smoothly.
Poor staffing, on the other hand, can leave your business lurching from crisis to crisis. You may not have all roles filled, leaving employees to pick up extra tasks. This can lead to employee burnout and result in an even more dire labor situation.
Poor staffing can also result in employees being in roles for which they are ill-suited. This can result in low-quality work, missed deadlines, and other problems that can do serious damage to your business.
Types of Staffing
There are different approaches that companies can take to staffing. Let’s take a closer look at the most common solutions.
Permanent staffing involves hiring full-time or part-time employees on a permanent basis. This is how most companies choose to fill open roles.
This solution can be a beneficial arrangement for both the employer and the employee. The employer gets an employee who will likely stay in the company for many years and become an expert in that role. The employee gets a sense of job security and the opportunity to grow into a role.
Depending on the company, there may be opportunities for permanent staff to be promoted to more senior positions through internal recruitment.
Temporary staffing involves hiring employees on a temporary basis. Temporary employment may be beneficial for businesses with seasonal fluctuations. It can also be used if a permanent employee in a key role is on long-term leave, such as medical leave.
Temporary employees are usually hired through a temp agency. However, companies also have the option to hire temporary employees independently. In this case, companies should make it clear to candidates that a job is temporary. They should also be upfront about whether there is an opportunity for permanent employment.
Contract staffing involves hiring freelancers or independent contractors on a contract basis. Typically, contracts have a fixed length. They may be renewed or terminated at the end of the contract period. Contractors do not become employees of the company, but remain independent.
Contract staffing is often used to fill short-term positions or to hire help for specific, one-off projects. The base wage rate for contractors may be higher than for employees since contractors typically do not receive benefits.
Using a Staffing Agency
Companies can also choose to outsource staffing. This usually means relying on a third-party company to manage recruitment, training, and other HR tasks. Workers may remain employees of the third-party company, or they may be hired as permanent employees at your company.
Outsourcing staffing can be expensive. It also gives your company less control over employee recruitment, pay, benefits, and management. On the other hand, it enables your company to focus on other aspects of running a business.
These are the main pros and cons of outsourcing staffing.
Pros of using a staffing agency
- Frees up HR resources: Outsourcing staffing to an external agency frees up your HR team to focus on other projects. You may not need to hire as many HR professionals.
- Access a wider talent pool: Agencies often have deep recruiting expertise. They may be able to help your company connect with top talent or specialist staff that would be difficult to reach on your own without a large recruiting budget.
- Hire more quickly: Using an agency can streamline the recruiting and onboarding process. Your company may be able to get a qualified candidate for a position in weeks instead of months.
Cons of using a staffing agency
- Can be expensive: Agencies often charge a commission equal to a percentage of an employee’s basic salary. For professional and executive employees, this can be a lot of money.
- Less involvement: Outsourcing the hiring process means that your company gives up a lot of control in the process. You may not have much of a say in where your open job is advertised or how new hires are trained.
- Limits your recruitment pipeline: Agencies often don’t provide much detail about candidates until they show up at your office for an interview. You will likely only see candidates that have already gone through an agency’s screening process. So the next time you need to hire, you won’t have a pool of resumes already available to you.
How to get started with a staffing agency
If you decide an agency is right for your business, it’s important to hire the right firm. Make sure you talk with multiple staffing agencies. Ask about their fees, what aspects of staffing they can take over for your business, and how much control you’ll have in the process.
You should also have a clear outline of the job for which you want to hire, including the job duties and compensation. Staffing agencies will generally need detailed information about a position in order to start recruiting for it.
Good agencies will ask for feedback about their work throughout the staffing process. It’s important to provide honest feedback. That way, the agency can better tailor their future recruitment and onboarding efforts to your business’s needs.
Creating a Staffing Plan
Many businesses prefer to manage staffing in-house. In that case, it’s essential to have a clearly defined staffing plan.
Businesses that have a well-defined staffing plan are more likely to fill open roles. They’re also more likely to recruit and retain talented employees. So, it’s important to take a close look at your current staffing process and think carefully about how you would like staffing to work.
With that in mind, here are 5 steps your business can take to create a staffing plan.
Identify in-demand roles and shortages
Staffing starts with determining what roles your company has that need to be filled. These may be existing roles that are currently short-staffed or new roles that need to be created and filled.
HR supervisors and managers can work together to make a list of needed roles. They should create job descriptions for these roles if they don’t already exist. Managers should also be involved in defining the required or desired qualifications for candidates looking to fill these roles.
Create recruitment and training pipelines
Companies should also have robust recruitment pipelines. That includes knowing where and how to advertise open roles. It also involves sending hiring managers to relevant networking events. In addition, consider your company’s compensation strategy and how that can position you to attract top talent.
You’ll also need to have processes in place for onboarding and training new hires. Depending on the job, these processes may be relatively simple. However, some positions may require a new employee to spend significant time learning their new role.
Talk with your managers
Managers play a vital role in staffing. They know best what each employee is doing and what tasks are going unfulfilled. They also know how employees’ schedules work from day to day.
Among other things, managers should be consulted on
- identifying new job roles
- promoting candidates from within your company
- modifying employees’ schedules to improve operational efficiency.
Even if you have all the right employees in all the right jobs, your company can still run into problems if employee scheduling isn’t managed well. These might include labor shortages at certain times or scheduling conflicts.
It’s a good idea to consult employees about what schedules they prefer. When appropriate, offering flexible scheduling can help your company retain talented employees.
Retain talented employees
Retaining good employees is just as important as recruiting top talent in the first place. Talk with employees to find out what matters to them. Some employees may prefer bonus pay, while others may prioritize scheduling flexibility or remote work.
It may not be possible to accommodate all requests. However, showing that your company cares about its employees and rewards good work can go a long way toward retaining top talent.
Good staffing is crucial to the health and success of your company. It includes everything from recruiting talented employees to fill open roles, to making sure you have enough staff for a shift. It also involves rewarding and retaining employees.
Businesses can choose to outsource staffing to a third-party agency or manage it on their own. When hiring a staffing agency, it’s a good idea to shop around and find out exactly what each agency can do.
When managing staffing in-house, it’s important to create a detailed plan. This should clearly lay out your approach to recruiting, onboarding, and scheduling.