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Are You Prepared to Staff for the New Normal?

June 21, 2021

52% of workers are considering a job change this year, and 44% are actively looking.

Harris Poll, Fast Company

Recent research supports the obvious — 2020 was the inflection point for how we work. This has given employers a unique opportunity to recalibrate for our post-pandemic norms that show many of us can succeed in a remote workplace.

A Senate testimony revealed that 95% of office workers became telecommuters during the pandemic. Of those, 67% never worked remotely before.1 Two questions have now emerged:

  • What is the “new normal” for staffing and managing?
  • What should employees expect from their employers?

Flexibility is clearly a new expectation.

  • 82% responding to a 2021 Gallup poll enjoy the option to work remotely.2
  • Employee mindsets have shifted from prioritizing success in their current job to:
    • Focus on location and lifestyle
    • Benefits, such as time off
    • Time for volunteering and adapting to new skills3

Focus on Employee Well-Being

Gartner predicts that employers will have to respond with a new employee value proposition, rooted in “deeper connections, radical flexibility, shared purpose, well-being and personal growth.”4

What do these trends tell us about future staffing?

Employers will struggle retaining and recruiting talent if they don’t take these expectations seriously. A recent Harris/Fast Company poll revealed that 52% of workers are considering a job change this year — and 44% are actively looking.5

That’s an eye-opener. With plenty of job opportunities available — more supply than demand — employees have leverage. Organizations must be nimble and prepared for major change within their teams.

It’s about staying connected

At times of uncertainty, how do you keep up with the evolving needs of employees? How do you plan and execute work?

Post-pandemic, employers need strategies to maximize productivity and retention to ensure they meet business objectives and goals.

Consider these solutions in response to the new staffing normal:

  • Provide mental health and wellness services. An overwhelming 96% of respondents to the annual Deloitte Human Capital Trends survey said organizations are responsible for employees’ well-being — but 79% said well-being isn’t designed or integrated into the workplace.6
  • Identify the skills required, not the roles. Workers will have to adapt. To make it easy, employers will have to identify the skills employees need to succeed in new positions. Only 17% of executives feel their workforce is ready, according to the Deloitte survey.
  • Offer robust, ongoing training. Skill-building will become more critical when workers are no longer sitting side by side. New technologies for remote collaboration, skill training and diversity and equity understanding are equally important.
  • Clearly define what workers need and want to know. Strong communication boosts morale and improves retention. Internal collaboration tools are more robust and user-friendly than they were in early 2020 — explore Slack, MS Teams, OneDrive, Zoom and whiteboard apps for the best fit before investing.
  • Document and share your contingency plans. Workers want to know how their employers will respond to the next life-changing global event. As we’ve all learned, it’s catastrophic not to have an exhaustive contingency plan in place.
  • Reallocate budget to remote learning and team building. Find ways to keep all workers engaged with virtual social occasions and professional development. Make onsite work more appealing by redesigning physical spaces for collaboration. And they’ll show up to use benefit-oriented spaces, such as gyms or larger kitchen/break areas.

Rethinking Team Talent

Organizations are rethinking staffing strategies due to uncertainty, complexity and expense. A new dynamic is emerging: companies are equally investing in their own teams and outsourcing with partners. According to a Q4 2020 survey from BCG, 67% of companies are focused on developing in-house capabilities, while 66% have increased in/outsourcing levels.7

Successful organizations rely on their in-house talent for three key areas: revenue-generating work, transformational projects and growth and innovation.

The BCG survey quotes a large company’s C-level executive as saying, “We offshored a lot, but we want to keep the deep thinking … we like to work with good service providers that know our systems well. That way, whenever necessary, they can step in and help our solutions teams, too.”

Building an in-house, outsourced solution

Organizations have added flexibility by hiring contract/contingent workers, or building outsourced partnerships for non-core, back-end, overflow or routinized work.

When certain tasks are outsourced, in-house talent can focus on strategic activities, revenue-generating work and projects that produce results. The benefits can be immediate:

  • Speed to need. Working with an experienced partner helps companies overcome productivity challenges, streamline operations, shortages in the workforce and add skills they might lack internally.
  • Grow quick and scale. Partners with large pools of on-demand talent can rapidly scale the workforce, while reducing the expense — and time — of hiring, onboarding and training new employees.
  • Count the beans. For every employee not hired to perform a support function, more budget is available to hire or retain a revenue-generating employee.
  • Create opportunity from inside. Outsourcing routine tasks can fund opportunities for much needed growth and innovation, creating new opportunities for teams.

Using the “new normal” to reengineer and optimize your workforce results in leaner, more effective and more satisfied teams. Quad has a long successful history of providing clients with outsourcing, onsite, remote or on-demand services — and determining the right balance.

Contact Quad to learn more about the benefits of outsourcing in the new normal.


1 Global Workplace Analytics: Global Work from Home Experience Survey and Telework Senate testimony July 2020
2 May 2021 Gallup Morning Consult Poll
3 PwC Workforce Pulse Survey, March 24, 2021
4 Gartner, May 13, 2021
5 Harris Poll, Fast Company, February 23, 2021
6 Harvard Business Review, April 28, 2021
7 BCG, February 23, 2121