ClimberA talent shortage is plaguing businesses across various industries – and the larger the company, the greater the problem. A recent survey from InformationWeek found that 88 percent of respondents at companies with more than 1,000 employees face a skills shortage, compared to 73 percent of respondents at smaller firms.

There are many potential solutions that HR and procurement teams can recommend to address this problem, such as focusing on corporate learning and supporting educational opportunities, but these strategies take time. In-house talent acquisition teams can shorten the time it takes to fill a skills gap by hiring the right candidates at the right times. Here are three steps to follow if you want to more quickly close the skills gap in your company:

1. Use Flexible Workers

The first step in addressing a skills shortage is to think outside the traditional ways of structuring, engaging, and sourcing talent. Embracing flexible – sometimes called “external” – talent will allow your company to bring in skills that are lacking in your existing workforce.

Flexible workers can be highly skilled subject-matter experts. Companies increasingly rely on this non-permanent set of workers to fill consultant roles or niche needs on projects. Moreover, flexible workers provide a service based on a determined statement of work – depending on your need and their availability.

With the proper tools — like a vendor management system (VMS) — these more flexible members of the workforce can be efficiently evaluated, onboarded, managed, and even re-assigned for other project-based needs as time goes on.

Another added benefit is that this talent pool will be available to fill ongoing needs; flexible workers may even be on the bench for the next full-time employee openings.

WorkerIf you choose to engage with flexible workers, you won’t be alone. According to Ardent Partner’s State of Contingent Workforce Management study, 61 percent of enterprises surveyed expect to use external workers to solve the skills gaps in their companies.

2. Use Rate Cards and Uplifts for Easier Talent Sourcing

Once you’ve chosen to make flexible hires, rate cards and uplifts will help to formalize and streamline the process, aiding with compliance and overall workforce efficiency.

Rate cards are widely used to guide program offices, which are often operated by third-party managed service providers (MSPs), in their talent searches. Rate cards may provide opportunities for you to offer discounts and rebates to vendors based on volumes and the longevity of the assignments.

Rate cards also offer clear direction about how flexible your needs might be. This gives your MSP program office wiggle room for uplifts – or building in greater margins with specific talent groups – which may motivate the program office to fill certain requisitions more quickly.

Another benefit of rate cards is that they provide business intelligence over time. If your rate data is consistently synced with a VMS, trends will eventually emerge. These trends and anomalies will help you adjusted rates based on regional norms — and they may also quicken negotiations with suppliers. 

3. Balance Skills and Costs to Find the Right Talent for Your Needs

BoxerMany hiring executives struggle with the question, “Do I prioritize budget or skill when making a hiring decision?”

When a company is experiencing a skills shortage, the answer to this question can be complicated. One approach often mentioned is to not focus on meeting the needs of the company one job at a time, but to take a step back and look at the total talent picture of your organization. If each external hire is synced with your VMS and integrated with your human resources information system of record, it is possible to have complete visibility into the workforce. Such visibility will create a picture of which skills are represented among external and full-time employees in the company; it will also allow you and your peers to identify where talent is best suited and which specific needs are yet to be filled. This visibility will make it possible to ensure that ongoing projects are adequately staffed while the highest-quality and most expensive talent is positioned to drive business growth.

Hiring your way out of a skills shortage will set you up for long-term growth. Specialized, external workers bring exponential benefits to your total workforce. Using a VMS system to manage your external workforce, makes it possible to have complete visibility into the total workforce and associated labor costs, ensuring compliance and quality results from non-traditional and highly valuable sources of talent.

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