Flexible staffing

From CEOpedia | Management online

Flexible staffing is the answer of the labor market to the changing needs of the employer in order to maximize and optimize the organization, increase efficiency and increase customer satisfaction. The progressive globalization increases the pressure on the company's resources as well as the clients' requirements and their expectations. It required a change of work organization in order to increase its flexibility[1].

Flexible staffing include such a forms of employment as[2][3]:

  • temporary agency workers
  • short-term hires
  • regular part-time workers
  • on-call workers
  • contract workers

Temporary Agency Workers

All people working in the company but paid for by the employment agency. These people are often employed to replace regular employee who is absent due to holidays or illness. The payroll of the company does not include them[4].

Short-Term Hires

People hired through by the organization for a fixed-term and working part-time[5].

Regular Part-Time Workers

According to Mrs. Houseman, such employees can be included "Individuals on the organization’s payroll who work less than a full work week and who are not short-term hires." (2001, p. 149-170).

A large part of employer's flexible staffing strategy are part-time workers[6].

On-Call Workers

People who often work "on a call". These employees are called to work if it's necessary. A large part of company's workforce are on-call workers[7].

Contract Workers

"Individuals who are employed by another organization to perform tasks or duties as specifically contracted by the organization. Contract workers may be used for carrying out administrative duties or providing business support such as security, engineering, maintenance, sales, data processing, and food service." That's how describes them Mrs. Houseman (2001, p. 149-170).

Contract workers provide valuable support on a temporary basis[8].

The types of flexible forms of work can be divided into three groups[9]:

Why employers use flexible staffing

The most common motivations for using flexible staff arrangements are[10][11]:

  • to achieve a better flexibility of the skill mix and amount in labor inputs.
  • to economize on the costs of compensation.
  • to attain specialized services and abilities which are unavailable in the company.
  • to defence regular workers against unemployment while the employer's demand for work reduced provisionally.
  • to recruit personnel with special skills.
  • to substitute temporarily for workers who are absent.
  • to reduce the workload of employees.
  • to adjust workers’ wishes for a more responsiveness working schedule.

To encourage companies to use certain flexible staffing, labor unions more often raise the wages[12].

Advantages and disadvantages of flexible staffing practices

Ms. Houseman in her article states that "By using flexible staffing arrangements, employers may restrict benefits to certain groups without losing preferential tax status of their benefit plans." (2001, p. 149-170).

The disadvantage can be given by the fact that regular employees receive a higher salary and get more benefits than flexible staffing[13].

In addition to minimizing costs, companies also can use FSA for other reasons, for example, firms may employ people who work in temporary help agencies or on-call workers when full-time employees are absent due to illness or holiday and to accommodate staffing levels and even prevent workers from getting their maximum workload[14].

Examples of Flexible staffing

  • Just-in-time staffing: Just-in-time staffing is the practice of hiring temporary workers to fill immediate needs for a specific period of time. Businesses use this strategy to reduce costs and quickly meet demand without committing to a long-term commitment. For example, a retail store may hire temporary workers to help during the busy holiday season, or a manufacturing company may hire temporary workers to help with an influx of orders.
  • Contract staffing: Contract staffing is when an employer hires employees on a contractual basis to meet short-term needs. These employees are typically hired for a specific project and are not considered permanent employees of the company. For example, a company may hire a contract employee to help with a new product launch or to provide extra support during a busy period.
  • Outsourcing: Outsourcing is the practice of hiring a third party to complete a task or provide services that would otherwise be done by an employee of the company. For example, a business may outsource customer service to a call center, or they may outsource website design and development to an outside company.
  • Remote staffing: Remote staffing is the practice of hiring employees who are not physically present in the workplace. These employees typically work from home or from a remote location and use technology such as video conferencing, email, and instant messaging to stay in contact with the company. For example, a company may hire a remote worker to help with customer support, software development, or sales.

Other approaches related to Flexible staffing

  • Job Sharing: This is an arrangement in which two employees divide the responsibilities of one position, sharing the pay and benefits. This can be an effective way to reduce headcount and still maintain a full-time equivalent position.
  • Outsourcing: This is when a company contracts with an outside organization for goods and services. This can provide access to specialized expertise, help reduce costs, and increase the speed of execution.
  • Telecommuting: This is the practice of allowing employees to work from home. This can help reduce overhead costs, increase employee satisfaction, and reduce commuting time.
  • Temporary Staffing: This is the practice of hiring temporary employees to fill short-term needs. This can be a cost-effective solution to fill positions on an as-needed basis.

Flexible staffing is an effective approach to maximize efficiency, increase customer satisfaction, and meet the changing needs of the employer. Other approaches to consider include job sharing, outsourcing, telecommuting, and temporary staffing. Each of these strategies provides advantages and cost savings to an organization while allowing it to be flexible and responsive to market demands.


Using these forms is becoming more and more common. Many entrepreneurs believe that flexible forms of employment can bring benefits to them at the same time with slight adverse effects on employees. A significant amount of employers are convinced that the use of these practical will increase in the near future[15].


  1. Brett R. F. (2007)
  2. Houseman S. N. (2001)
  3. Houseman S. N., Polivka A. E. (2000)
  4. Houseman S. N. (2001)
  5. Houseman S. N. (2001)
  6. Houseman S. N. (2001)
  7. Houseman S. N. (2001)
  8. Gramm C. L., Schnell J. F. (2001)
  9. Gramm C. L., Schnell J. F. (2001)
  10. Houseman S. N. (2001)
  11. Houseman S. N., Polivka A. E. (2000)
  12. Abraham K. G. (1988)
  13. Houseman S. N. (2001)
  14. Abraham K. G. (1988)
  15. Houseman S. N., Polivka A. E. (2000)

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Author: Daria Ziętara