As a member of teamUpHR, I’ve spent much of the last year augmenting the “permanent” HR tech personnel at a mid-sized company in an area of the USA with high turnover in the ranks of the Workday® HRIT staff. At the start of this assignment, I assumed that I’d provide support for a few months until a permanent employee was hired to pick up the work I was doing, and that I’d move on to my next assignment.
Things didn’t work out quite as I expected. Due to the shifting and sometimes unstable nature of work in the technology industry, the demand for IT skills generally, as well the shortage of people with Workday® skills in particular, I am now the person with the greatest knowledge of my client’s Workday® configuration, data, and project roadmap. All the “regular” employees have come and gone, either to pursue new careers in IT, take jobs with large, high paying consulting firms, or to move where the cost of living is lower.
As I speak with consultants and employees across the industry, I find that this experience is becoming increasingly common: the regular, full-time employee is no longer a reliable fixture of the HR Tech department, and those brought in to provide “temporary” support are paradoxically now providing the institutional memory, continuity, and training to the next generation of “permanent” employees.
It may be time to rethink the purpose and value of post-implementation support, particularly as it is provided by smaller consulting firms that are dedicated to long-term service. Staff augmentation can become a long-term strategy that fits in with, complements, and supports regular employment, enabling companies to realize critical HR goals at a time when impermanence is becoming a permanent condition.
If you look at staff augmentation as a way to support a changing cast of “regulars,” remain open to the possibility that the consultant may become your most experienced and reliable resource through the ups and downs of various headcount cycles, and find ways to leverage this reality.
Here are some thoughts for how to realize the maximum benefit from all your workers:
Have the staff aug person document critical processes and procedures, ongoing maintenance tasks, and other work that might otherwise fall through the cracks during periods of high turnover, so that new employees can keep the business running while they are coming up to speed.
Ask him or her to train new hires and transfer knowledge in areas relating to the work that they’ve done for the company.
In addition to providing training on the specific work they’ve done, consider asking him or her to train new hires in any area they are expert in if the skill sets of new hires does not quite match those of employees who have left, leaving gaps and vulnerabilities.
In parts of the staffing cycle where the ranks of regular employees are more full, use your temp staff to support and enable improvement to Workday that are impractical/challenging during staff cycles when the ranks are thinner.
Don’t assume that the staff aug person should only come in to do work in areas where your current staff has little knowledge or experience. Catalog the areas of Workday that your current staff would like to learn, but may be too busy or overwhelmed to take on. Then use the temp staff to free your employees to expand their skill sets. Remember that employees often leave a company on the promise that another employer is willing to let them grow and expand into new areas of Workday®.
In general, during periods when you are experiencing headcount losses, consider whether you may be asking too much from those who remain, and are unintentionally creating negative incentives for others to also leave. If so, staff augmentation may be the best way to support and increase regular employment.
Overall, staff aug seems like a nearly permanent part of the staffing scene at many companies. If this is the situation you find yourself in, learn to leverage it the best way possible and your organization can still thrive in these times of heavy staff turnover.