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Even before coronavirus struck, employers across a broad range of industries began building a more contingent workforce.

Now that effort has been kicked into overdrive. Whether it’s an industry that holds concerns around what 2021 growth levels will look like or an industry already experiencing higher production and demand due to Covid-19, the need for flexibility and rapid fulfillment responsiveness is more critical than ever. According to a recent Gartner survey, one-third of US companies plan to replace some departed full-time employees with contract workers.

Here are a few ways a contingent workforce could help provide a solution for your staffing challenges.

Using contingent workers to scale up, down and sideways. Depending on the organization, the need for a flexible workforce is driven by a multitude of factors.

Although specific circumstances vary from industry to industry and company to company, everybody in the current economic climate is dealing with some degree of change. Contingent workforces can be incredibly nimble and built to suit a variety of challenges. They are usually the first to be hired in the early days of recovery as companies remain wary.

A contingent workforce can be a panacea for several coronavirus-related issues, from scaling staffing upward to meet demand or accommodate a higher rate of absenteeism than ever before, to bringing in project-related help for a billing or production cycle, to changing your entire business model at a moment’s notice in response to an opportunity.

Diversifying new-hire skill sets to position for future growth. Bringing in a workforce with different skills than usual can also help companies sample a broader range of employee expertise, which comes with new challenges and benefits. Part of change management is bringing in people who are experts in the new models, from leadership consultants on down the line to operations. Contingent workers can help with that while offering the chance to commit to full-time employment if and when the opportunity arises.

It’s worth remembering that contingent workforces offer more than just a band-aid for getting through the current crisis. As contingent workers bring their experience to tackle your current challenges, they may additionally have insight into process improvements or potential new opportunities.

Leaning on staffing partners to manage unfamiliar hiring ramps. Companies are getting creative to remain in business, shifting their focus to products or services consumers need more of now.

New products are coming out due to the pandemic, such as test kits or masks, that can require a different kind of labor. This means many businesses are hiring for different skill sets than they’re used to recruiting for.

A staffing partner with experience in both your former business model and your new venture is able to translate your needs to the current talent market, especially for talent that your company may not have experience hiring.

And with the turbulence of the labor pool at the moment, even if the main hiring thrust faced by a company does not involve a shift in focus to an unfamiliar labor pool, the resourcing involved is much higher than ever before.

Retailers, e-commerce and manufacturing companies may seek to hire 100+ workers in a key market overnight to accommodate the holiday season, while other industries are still dealing with layoffs. All the while the quit rate among workers is only rising.

Another thing worth considering is the value of market knowledge. Finding the right people still takes market research, an understanding of the labor pool in a wide variety of fields, and familiarity with competitors in the area. Staffing partners can step in when it comes to learning the market and a labor pool, especially if these are new for you.

A contingent workforce staffing partner can help you navigate rough waters, offering a happy medium between keeping afloat and steering forward.