The recession forced many companies to cut their workforces and learn how to get the job done with fewer employees. According to a January 7 article by the Society for Human Resource Management, titled "2011:Time to Find the Right Workplace Mix," companies now need to examine how they may need to supplement their downsized workforce to meet future needs.
The article recommends that, rather than just hiring blindly, that employers spend some time determining the right "workforce mix" for their organizations. Often the right mix includes the use of contractors. Contractors help ramp up the time to market and can provide skill sets that are not easily obtained through the traditional in-house staff.
The article provides the example of American Family Insurance. The company supplements its full-time staff with "independent claims adjusters" to help them get through busier times, particularly in the summer when storms create a higher number of claims. In general, the company usually has about 275 contractors working in office support positions. Last year, they doubled their number of Information Technology contractors, for a total of 500, to work on a specific IT initiative. Because the project was only expected to last about three years, they didn't want to commit to full-time employees that they wouldn't need once the initiative was over. This reflects a trend we have noticed over the course of this "recovery" of gun-shy employers hiring contractors to help during busier times so they don't have to commit to full-time employees.