Flexible staffing solutions are the key to business success in a post-Covid world

Posted 05/06/21 Reagan Mullins

All over the globe, the way we do business has been dramatically altered. But with change comes innovation. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past 12 months, it’s that businesses need to be agile to succeed. They need creative solutions and top-level talent to take advantage of new opportunities, adapt to complex business challenges, and fill lucrative gaps in the marketplace.

That, and we’re better when we all work together.

Strategic staffing solutions crossed with managed services offer companies big-picture, creative options and the flexible, top-level talent they’re craving.

Before the pandemic, I had a rather traditional role of managing the strategy and direction of Vaco’s strategic staffing practice division across the US and Canada. I had big plans — and I still do, they just look very different!

Three weeks into the global shut down, I realized that moving forward, my role would be anything but traditional. The old way of hiring and staffing wasn’t meeting clients’ immediate needs anymore. There was simply too much uncertainty and so much was changing so quickly. It was clear, however, there was a need. While the global pandemic caused many businesses to contract, many sectors had increased as a result of extremely unusual demand due to the unexpected shutdown. These businesses had to act quickly to meet demand but didn’t want to compromise the delivery of their services to do so.

In order to meet these unusual needs, I partnered with my counterpart from Vaco’s Managed Services division, Atul Bhave, to help develop a custom — and somewhat unusual — solution for an existing client.

Our client, a well-known furniture retailer, needed to liquidate recently acquired assets from a company that had filed for bankruptcy. Using the bankrupt company’s brick-and-mortar locations, we fully staffed 13 retail outlets from top to bottom. We also identified a team of professionals to guide the strategy and execution of the actual liquidation. In total, the project lasted 16 weeks and included a team of over 600 individuals who were managed entirely by Vaco project managers.

It worked swimmingly. From there, we took the show on the road, so to speak.

Vaco is a global company with local roots, which is what makes us so different from many other talent and solutions firms. But it can also lead to market segmentation. Local sales teams weren’t always aware of the breadth of services we have to offer from an enterprise-level perspective. And that was largely okay because we knew what our clients needed and how we could deliver solid solutions, leveraging cross-functional teams.

Of course, that changed almost overnight.

Our clients, working almost entirely remotely, needed new delivery models and strategies, and we knew we could help.

Here’s how it worked: by leading with “How can we help?” rather than “Here’s what we can do for you,” we were able to craft solutions that clients needed as the world was changing. Sometimes the responses were Covid-related — like staffing a 60-person call center to answer FMLA and other Covid-related questions or managing the liquidation of a $500M retail chain — and sometimes they were not. Like when we helped a client build a virtual tax preparation company from inception to infrastructure to execution and management.

Once we realized the demand for the strategic managed staffing services combo existed, we really started coloring outside of the lines.

With the help of some of our incredible colleagues around the globe, we showed up for our clients when and however they needed us most. Together, we were able to offer them everything from large-scale, managed staff augmentation to totally outsourced solutions.

The variety of projects we’re seeing as a result of this synergy is inspiring and energizing. Every opportunity is different, and no two proposals or solutions are structured the same way. We’ve proposed everything from fixed-fee billing, where we charge the client weekly per headcount, to invoicing by the productive minute, where we charge the client for each minute a client services representative is communicating with an external party.

It’s an honor to serve clients with the solutions they need to build for the future.

Only time will tell what strategic staffing and managed services look like in a post-Covid world, but the shift in our approach is likely to last. These large cross-functional projects are complex, but they are also a lot of fun. It allows us to work in large teams, across all geographies, to deliver top talent and solve business challenges at a lightning-fast pace.

And most importantly, it gives our clients the much-needed agility and flexibility they need to future-proof their enterprises.

Reagan Mullins is Vaco’s national practice leader for strategic staffing.

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