Having a worker pipeline in place—essentially a resource of qualified professionals you can reach out to for filling vacant positions—is a prudent move for any company. Especially given that research shows American companies lose billions of dollars annually from the fallout of unfilled openings.
One strategic way to do this is through consultations and part-time projects using contract or contract-to-hire employees. Using these workers for temporary endeavors can be a wise move in itself, but can also be particularly helpful in creating a backlog of reliable professionals.
Here then is a look at the benefits of building a pipeline with this approach, followed by some quick tips on just how to compile your team of potential future employees.
FAMILIARITY. How reassuring would it be to have a reserve of staffers you’ve seen in action before and know you can rely upon when a position opens up in your organization—rather than an unknown quantity? By keeping a file of professionals who have come through for you with part-time projects in the past, you won’t be searching in the dark the next time you need a crucial vacancy filled promptly. And of course they’ll also be familiarized with your processes, work approach, office staff and so forth; this will make their debut as a full-time staffer even smoother should it occur.
AGILITY. Sure, any worker pipeline is better than none at all, but with your standard one there will still be a vetting process complete with interview procedures, approval from senior executives, and so forth, that can cause serious delays. By creating a pipeline of workers that have already proven themselves, most of the bureaucratic red-tape can be painlessly avoided.
FRUGALITY. With a roster of at-the-ready workers you’ve already hired in the past, you’ll know who is willing to work within your budget—and you won’t have to bend to too-high salary demands in a panic. And of course you’ll be saving money by being able to fill positions quickly this way.
LOYALTY. By giving a full-time opportunity to someone who’s come through for your group with part-time projects in the past, you’ll be likely rewarded by loyalty from new staffers who appreciate the chance to shine in a full-time role. And the successful history you already have with each other adds to the mutual trust.
As for building a worker pipeline in this fashion, it’s honestly not rocket science—and essentially just involves filing away the contact information for the part-time workers who impress you during a project’s scope. But there are some specific approaches you can take that will optimize the effectiveness of the overall effort.
DELEGATE. Sure you’ll want to have HR or your hiring manager heavily involved, but it might be wise to have the department head of each particular project personally supervise the pipeline organization for that area. Using an IT project just as an example, your tech leader is going to have a much better handle on who truly excelled during the project than your HR Director would.
RATE CAREFULLY. Set up a simple spreadsheet chart within each division for your project workers that lets you rate their various abilities on a scale of one to 10. You’ll then be able to match up their strengths and weaknesses to specific job openings that become available and act accordingly based on that info. Someone might do a great overall job during a project, but if their organizational skills—for example—are lacking, and that’s a big focus of the full-time position, you should probably think twice about that candidate.
INTELLIGENT EXITS. Take 20 minutes with each temporary worker that impresses during a project to conduct an exit interview at the task’s conclusion. What did they like and not like about the experience? Are they interested in a full-time position if it became available, and why or why not? How do they feel about your company culture, and do they see themselves as a good fit? How quickly would they be available if an appealing full-time role did present itself? The feedback you garner here can be profoundly insightful in guiding your future decisions.
By taking all these steps, you should be rewarded with a healthy trove of reliable workers waiting in the wings who know your organization, how you do things, and who want to work for you within your salary range. And that’s something any organization can benefit from.