Transforming To ‘Smart Staffing Structure’ From Traditional Structure

The importance of companies adopting a smart staffing structure is recognized by perceptive business organizations – COVID or no COVID. However, the relevance of deploying an agile workforce was never more apparent than in the post-COVID-19 era.

For India, the perception of gig-workers is disadvantageously linked against the cultural ethos of ‘steady employment’. While several blue-collar vocations operate with ease under the contract model, white-collar workers have traditionally preferred to be part of a full-time payroll. However, this extent of workforce planning has become harder to execute come COVID-19 and the consequent economic slowdown. The traditional company structure was led by individual contributors and teams whereas today, many projects are task-oriented.

Undeniably, powerful, long-established business houses as well as new ones on the block now prefer leaner organizational structures. Bulk hiring has given way to smart staffing structures, and white-collar employees are faced with the need for a mindset shift. They are now onboarded for shorter periods in which high-performing skills are prized above settling in and taking time to achieve optimal performance levels. By extension, apprentices with precious hands-on experience have more transferable skills than mere academic knowledge. From the perspective of training solutions, this is an impactful takeaway that shows in the future of learning.

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Given the circumstances of funding cutbacks, boot-strapped businesses entering the fray through digital platforms and stiff competition compounded by limited demand, this leaner model of a smart staffing structure cannot be ignored or glossed over. Rather, workers with niche skills should view this as an opportunity to capture special roles, even if they last for shorter periods. Projects for as short as three months or even as long as 18 months call for contract-to-hire employees who operate either from their chosen location – home or coworking spot – or from the base of the contract employer. The flexibility that comes from being location-independent allows the smart company structure to save on costs from utilities and staff accommodation.

For this climate, contract employees and freelance workers are the best bet because they are focused on the hit-the-ground-running model. The smart staffing strategy lets the core employees pass on knowledge and standard operating procedures via video conferencing and cloud-based applications across time zones if necessary. After a smartly-coordinated number of contact hours, the contract employees can operate independently.

From the perspective of businesses, those who cannot allocate budgets for a salary would have the benefit of resuming the revenue stream. This can be a temporary or permanent solution to staffing problems. Even core employees whose salaries are curtailed by the sluggish economy can be retained on project-wise compensation bases instead of sustaining pay-cuts. This way, major restructuring and recruitment budgets need not be drafted to fill positions.

Benefits of smart staffing at a glance:

  1. Wider talent pool
  2. Agile, flexible workers with transferable skillsets
  3. No long-term commitment to hiring, retention, or paying salaries
  4. Seasonal demand can be propped up by temporary workers
  5. Cushions sudden shift in demand
  6. As opposed to talent-led markets, projects take precedence

Staffing companies in India have, as a result of the shift to the smart staffing structure, become the buzzwords. Adecco India, CIEL HR, Manpower, and TeamLease Services are only some of the top names that cushioned  the smart-hiring challenges of companies. In return for the faith reposed in them by employers, these companies have the propensity to turn around the layoffs seen right after the coronavirus outbreak. TeamLease offers SaaS-based workforce management solutions; AI-powered solutions from TalentRecruit and CutShort are also growing from strength to strength.

Specific smart staffing solutions are now available to critical functional areas such as Atheva Services for medical recruitment, BGS for Manufacturing firms, and Reflik for HR Generalist and Law recruitment. Niche-specific hiring and workforce planning worked for essential services and health workers during the crunch time. In summation, smart staffing solutions can be extrapolated to major industries to enhance performance and efficiency.


  • Naveen Pathak, Staffing in Testing Times – Rising up to the COVID-19 Challenge | Tata Consultancy Services Hitech Bytes | May 13 2020
  • Nehal Chaliawala, Covid-19 crisis brings digital opportunities for staffing companies | Economic Times | June 20, 2020
  • Kalpana Pathak and Romita Majumdar, Contractual hiring makes a big comeback as covid-19 erodes topline | Livemint | June 03, 2020
  • Punit Renjen, The heart of resilient leadership: Responding to COVID-19 | Deloitte Insights | March 16, 2020

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