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Interview With the Experts: Strategic Workforce Planning in Turbulent Times

Navigating Disruptions and Crafting an Agile Staffing Approach

Amidst a hiring freeze, budget cuts, and other economic disruptions, organizations today need a sound staffing strategy in their business continuity plans. The focus lies on creating a workforce that addresses immediate organizational needs and demonstrates the agility required to navigate forthcoming challenges. 

However, sometimes even the best-laid plans can give way. Is there a way to reduce the impact of disruptions and ensure L&D continues to drive learning and behavior change?

Yes, absolutely! We spoke with the best minds in the talent and staffing industry to share their knowledge on an ideal staffing strategy. How can organizations step up without burning a hole in their budget?

Spoiler alert – this is not a myth! A successful workforce plan and talent acquisition approach is very much within reach for all organizations. 

Stacey Cleary, VP of Recruiting and Talent Acquisition, Kristie DeLoreto, SVP for Client Relations, and Jason Dumois, SVP of Strategic Partnerships, came together in this tete-a-tete on all things staffing, talent, and strategy for all organizations. 

Here’s part 1 of the conversation. 

What is the best word to describe a winning staffing strategy for organizations?

Jason: Definitely “Agile” or “Relationships.” A winning workforce plan is all about managing relationships and quickly finding solutions.

Kristie: “Listening” or “Understanding” the tasks at hand and how to get them done. A staffing strategy is also about “Convenience” or an organization having the “Flexibility” to scale up or down based on dynamic needs. 

While augmenting a team, why can’t organizations simply proceed with their recruiting agency to find a candidate? What are the merits of seeking services from an L&D solutions-specific company like ELB Learning?

Kristie: At ELB Learning, we are in a unique position as we understand L&D and organizations’ exact challenges. This helps us pitch the solution that best addresses current challenges and negates roadblocks, too.

Our resources are already working on other projects and are more experienced in the art of creating learning resources. We don’t simply pick contractors from the bench and place them with our clients. We find someone we really know has the potential to solve our client’s pain points.

Jason: Our process is very agile and targeted. This is what helps us achieve placement accuracy. We know the contractors in our pool and listen and understand our client’s challenges. We guarantee productivity from Day 1 of placement.

Stacey: Very often, we have instances of utilizing contractor services for our own custom eLearning projects, and when there is a staff augmentation requirement from a client, we don’t hesitate to move the contractor to our client’s offices. 

For organizations starting with staff augmentation, what are some non-negotiable factors when scouting for a staffing partner?

Kristie: The vetting process for sure! Your staffing vendor must free you of all the heavy-duty tasks, including vetting the right candidates. Vetting candidates of their skill sets, viewing past projects, portfolios, experience, and beyond. All candidates look good on paper, but the staffing partner should be able to sift through and find the unicorn! 

It also helps to look at the vendor’s experience with other companies in your industry and what problems they’ve solved. Ask for case studies, and ask for references before you make a decision. This is a long-term partnership, and reliability and expertise are paramount. Also, ensure your partner understands your work culture and your work environment, as they would need to find someone to fit in seamlessly. Ideally, your partner is a talent team, not a staffing team.

Stacey: The entire workload must, without any ambiguity, lie on your vendor. At ELB Learning, our reputation is on the line, and we take it very seriously. It’s about finding more than just the right skill set for us. We also look for the right personality and work ethic. We sometimes test the candidate with our internal projects to ascertain credibility and talent before passing them on to the client. We take time to understand our clients, and we take time to find the perfect candidate who ticks all the boxes, not most of the boxes!

Communication is key. Your vendor should constantly engage with you and try to understand your needs, goals, and timelines clearly.

Jason: The best feature about the ELB Learning staffing team is that our people have done these exact jobs, so they understand who else can do them well. This knowledge and awareness help while sifting through scores of candidates so that we can cherry-pick on behalf of the client.

So, for organizations, the key is to find a partner who feels like an extension of their team. 

 

How can organizations differentiate between outsourcing the project (or custom course development) and hiring a contractor to join the in-house team to get the job done?

Kristie: It all depends on how much the organization’s L&D team knows about the project and can manage independently. If the learning needs are analyzed, and the learning plan of action is clearly defined, but you are falling short on execution, this is an augmentation strategy. If all you need is an extra pair of hands to follow the path, that’s staff augmentation. Project Managers, Instructional Designers, and eLearning Developers are the top titles in demand because the project’s scope is very clear. Additionally, if you have a hiring freeze, staff going on maternity / medical leave, or need to make revisions to existing modules, all these can be solved through a short-term contractor hire.

However, if you are a one or two-person team running the L&D department, or you are an eLearning creator plus facilitator, you need to outsource the course creation to a vendor who understands your direction. Choose project outsourcing to get things off your plate and to focus on other tasks that take priority. Further, if your organization has scaled back on L&D or has only an HR team, or if you need a project to be done quickly, then a custom solutions company is the way to go. 

In the world of numerous staffing agencies, why are leading brands favoring ELB Learning to address their L&D staffing needs?

Stacey: I would bring in one word here. It’s all about the “Trust.” We understand the challenges of the L&D industry, and our clients trust us to help overcome them. We understand what it takes to create training curriculums and deliver effective training modules, which helps us get the right candidate to get the job done.

Kristie: It’s all about the network we’ve built over many years. We have a vetted pool of talented professionals we’ve worked with. We understand their strengths, and we understand our clients’ needs. In essence, we are the perfect matchmaker to kickstart a productive relationship. Most of our clients trust us to make the call and don’t even want to interview the candidate. The onus is on us to find the perfect fit and we stay on track. 

Learn more about staff augmentation services and the talents we can help you source.