When in comes to identifying and reducing the risk of threats to your business, workforce continuity and ensuring the wellbeing of staff has become a big corporate focus, and rightfully so. In the midst of a pandemic, the importance of strategic workforce continuity plans have become clear to organizations across the globe. Essential businesses that were required to continue operations throughout the COVID19 pandemic quickly began preparing and initiating contingency plans for critical roles throughout their organization and adjusting to the ever-changing CDC guidelines to ensure their operations continued.
Now as non-essential businesses begin reopening, many are facing a variety of workforce challenges from brining furloughed employees back to work, filling in workforce gaps due to illnesses and quarantines to ensuring juggling immunocompromised employees and those concerned about reentering the workforce. Does your company have a plan for 20% to 30% or more absenteeism?
Preparing For A Reduced Workforce
Workforce continuity planning is essential and should be a priority for Human Resources and Operations leaders, not just business continuity and emergency management practitioners. During a pandemic, as we've all experienced, absenteeism rates climb -- whether that's due to:
- Employee illness;
- Concern of being exposed to a positive person;
- Caring for sick family members;
- An outbreak at your facility;
- School and daycare closures;
- Fear of contagion;
Once various Business Impacts have been assessed such as lost or delayed sales, contractual penalties and potential customer loss, various staffing contingency strategies should be considered -- such as hiring local temps or contracting with a national contingency staffing vendor that can source temporary labor nationwide and provide a rapid response. For more detailed information on staffing contingency plans, see "How To Develop Contingency Plans for Staff Shortages."
The Value of Contingency Staffing & A National Talent Pool
Take staffing for example, especially in sectors like manufacturing where the local supply of skilled welders, machinists, boiler operators, etc. may be limited. This is where companies can benefit from outside sources when developing their workforce continuity staffing strategies. Resources like MADI that specialize in business continuity staffing have powerful tools such as immediate deployment capabilities and databases of talent sourced nationally that can be used to deploy high value key personnel quickly when production deadlines must be met.
In such instances value is not determined by cost but by investment in risk reduction, revenue stability and competitive advantage driven by the company's ability to meet customer expectations and deadlines.
Reducing Risk in Temporary Workforce DevelopmentOver the years MADI has found that finding skilled and experienced personnel is one thing, but ensuring that they have the kind of personal character, attitude and demeanor necessary to fit within a company's culture and be productive right from the start in a high pressure situation is an entirely different class of challenge.
To achieve the goal of continuity, MADI recommends that companies keep the following in mind:
Management and Oversight
In terms of productivity and where staffing needs are at the workforce level, getting up to speed hinges on hands-on managers that have the capability to ease the transition for temporary employees while creating the positive work environment that supports immediate and sustained productivity. Generally speaking, this requires that managers take a much more active approach with these employees. Business continuity staffing agencies add value here by offering personnel management services and direct coordination with the company's management to meet critical goals.
Worker AttitudesDistractions can arise in any workforce. However, organizations responding to an immediate need most likely do not have the time to extensively evaluate individuals and assess who may or may not work well in the company's environment, as they would normally.
Here are four (4) measures that can be taken to reduce these risks:
1. Implement hands-on management oversight
2. Screen personnel for skills as well as attitudes
3. Assess the employees' comfort and willingness to produce under stress
4. Identify personnel that possess a strong work ethic.
Many companies are starting to realize that in the context of business continuity planning, investments in outsourcing specialized workforces can significantly reduce the risk of losses and more than justify their cost, especially if immediate action is needed and advance planning is not an option.