Nearly 78 million manufacturing employees will retire in the United States over the next 10 years, according to the National manufacturing institute, and 82% of manufacturing CEO's say the skills gap will affect their ability to service customers. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, it's even more critical to develop staffing contingency plans. 

Manufacturers today are having difficulty hiring and retaining skilled workers and when coupled with historically low unemployment rates, companies are finding themselves in situations where traditional staffing models are not cutting it. Businesses today need strategic contingency plans to solve personnel shortages when local staffing agencies aren't able to support their evolving needs and contingency plans for unexpected operational and supply chain disruptions from COVID-19, more commonly known as Coronaviris. 

Thankfully, there are staffing companies like MADI that specialize in contingency planning and providing contingency staffing solutions specifically for staff shortages. Traditionally, this service has been used during labor disputes -- for when a union workforce goes on strike or is involved in a lockout at their facility -- but as it turns out, this method for sourcing workers nationwide and quickly mobilizing experienced workforces across the country is a PERFECT solution for staff shortages and skills gaps.  

Why consider a contingency plan for staff shortages?

Companies have traditionally relied upon regular local staffing agencies to fill in these staffing gaps, but these agencies are experiencing the same hiring challenges as the businesses they're servicing. A lack of available candidates often results in staffing agencies delivering unskilled and under-qualified candidates creating set backs such as longer training periods, high turnover, and increased costs -- which is not a recipe for achieving operational stability and catching up on production backlogs. 

Plus, if local staffing agencies are closed or unable to provide staff due to coronavirus, it's best to have a backup plan. For critical staffing needs such as higher absenteeism or work stoppages, it's best to proactively put forth agreements with contingency/crisis staffing providers that can quickly staff your facility if needed. 

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If you were to draw a circle around your plant with a 50 mile radius, how many EXPERIENCED manufacturing workers would there be? Of those, how many would be unemployed or employed and looking for a new job? Much less. With the average unemployment rate in the U.S. being 3.8% in March 2019, human resources are very limited -- and EVERYONE is competing for them. When your Human Resources and Talent Acquisition teams are putting their hands up in the air because they don't know what else to do to source talent, it's time to reconsider how you're sourcing talent to match the changing labor market and gig economy. 

How To Develop A Contingency Plan For Staff Shortages & Skills Gaps 

The main components of a business continuity plan typically include a business impact analysis, recovery strategies, plan development and testing/exercising. This same process can also be applied to workforce planning and developing contingency plans for critical staff shortages. 

Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

A business impact analysis predicts the consequences of a disruption of a business function and process and gathers information needed to develop recovery strategies. In the case of staffing shortages, consider the impact of: 

  • Lost sales
  • Delayed sales
  • Increased expenses such as overtime, outsourcing, expediting costs, etc. 
  • Fines
  • Contractual penalties 
  • Customer loss 

You'll also want to consider timing, duration, operational and financial impacts. When would a worker shortage have the biggest impact on your business -- during your busy season or at the end of a particular month or quarter? This will help you determine when it's time to start considering implementing your staffing contingency plan. 

Recovery Strategies 

Recovery strategies include alternate means to restore business operations to a minimum acceptable level following disruptions such as machinery breaking down, utility outages, supply chain interruptions and natural or man-made disasters. In the case of a worker shortage, however, this may include overtime for full-time employees and a mix of traditional staffing agencies or a contingency staffing service. 

In states with extremely low unemployment such as North Dakota, Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Tennessee, companies are finding that temporary agencies are having the same trouble finding skilled labor and they're supplying under-qualified workers which increases training time and causes high turnover and increased costs. When traditional staffing agencies aren't delivering the quantity or quality of temporary staffing you need and desire, then bringing in labor from outside the area with the help of a contingency staffing provider may be required. 

Download Our Free Staff Shortage Planner

What Is Contingency Staffing?

Contingency staffing is commonly used in special situations such as a labor dispute when either a union goes on strike or when a company locks out its union. It's a quick-response emergency/travel staffing solution that allows the company to continue operations with a temporary workforce until they're able to come to a mutual agreement. 

Contingency staffing companies are typically used when a company needs to fill open positions quickly. By sourcing their talent nationwide, these companies can respond more quickly, with more workers, and with a more skilled workforce than a traditional staffing agency.

Reach out to a contingency staffing provider to learn more about how their service works and how quickly they could provide support in the event that you suddenly need staff quickly. Response time can vary between job categories and industries, so it's better to understand this now than to be scrambling later when the need is more urgent. 

For example, turnaround time can vary depending upon skill sets and the number of personnel needed such as skilled CNC Machinists and Welders as opposed to Assembly workers or Machine Operators. Determine what might be a realistic ask for your business needs -- what if you need to add a team of CNC Machinists or Welders or maybe another 100+ assembly workers to your operations. Download our free staff shortage contingency planner to prioritize your skilled trades and production roles and identify potential staffing gaps. 

Then speak with a contingency staffing vendor about your potential needs and the type of support they could provide to your organization if needed moving forward. Some questions to ask and consider include: 

  • How quickly can a team be on-site after a request is made?
  • Who would onboard the temporary workforce? 
  • How many people can our management team actually intake and train at once? 
  • Would you need to ramp up the workforce over several weeks?
  • Will the temporary staff work on the same shift or across different shifts? 
  • What are the costs to mobilize a team to my facility or facilities? 

Contingency Plan Development 

If you're in a position where you're concerned that a staff shortage could have a severe impact on your business, then it's important to put together the right team and gain management approval. If a company has never used contingency/travel labor before it can be a hurdle to get the entire team on board; however, in today's changing labor climate companies must shift their mindset and talent strategies to overcome challenges such as labor shortages and skills gaps. 

Who Should Be Involved With The Contingency Planning Process? 

The main roles that are frequently involved with this type of planning and execution are Human Resources/Talent Acquisition, Operations as well as Executive Leadership such as the CEO, CFO or COO. The roles can differ from organization to organization and can change with the size of the company. 

Small to medium size companies may include human resources, operations, and executives/owners of the business. For enterprise companies, regional and/or corporate human resources and operations may be involved as well as the key leadership from the facility that is in need of temporary staff.

As a rule of thumb, you'll want to include critical stakeholders that will be working directly with the temporary staff and overseeing the project. Everyone involved should be on the same page with regard to expectations, timeline, and project management to ensure overall success. 

Testing & Exercises 

A critical component of any contingency plan is testing and exercises of the plan. If your organization is skeptical about using a contingency staffing vendor or concerned that the level of talent provided will be no different from what's being provided by local staffing agencies then the best thing to do is test the service by bringing in a small group of workers. 

Maybe you anticipate increased customer demand next year, but have a small need at a facility now -- test it and bring in a small group in now. By working with the service provider you'll learn how everything works from employee selection, and onboarding to project management and billing. If your potential need is 100 temporary workers, for example, start with a small group of 15 or 20 people, and if all is going well ramp up by adding groups of 20 until you reach your desired staffing level. 

Why Contingency Staffing Over Traditional Staffing?

A key difference between a contingency staffing agency that relocates workers to your plant and a staffing agency providing temporary staff from the local market is the contingency planning expertise and project management. With executive management oversight and field supervision to coordinate logistics, on-boarding, and ensure the workforce arrives as a group on time each day prior to their scheduled shift -- the efficiency, reliability, and productivity are unmatched. 

Another critical difference between traditional staffing agencies and contingency staffing agencies such as MADI is the size of the labor pool. Sourcing candidates from across the entire United States opens up the available resource pool for access to larger groups of workers, more skilled candidates, and enables rapid deployment of workforces for urgent staffing situations.

Imagine being able to hire EXPERIENCED manufacturing workers from a national talent pool without the restriction of a 50-mile radius around your plant. Imagine being able to have 50, 100, or 200+ EXPERIENCED production and skilled trades workers on-site within two weeks, regardless of your location. This is much faster than the average time to fill skilled production worker positions these days,  which is 93 days, according to the 2018 Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute Skills Gap and Future of Work Study

Why Access Talent From A National Labor Pool

Local vs National Labor PoolAdjusting the size of your labor pool alone can solve large-scale staffing challenges for companies in need of hundreds of workers very quickly. This also provides an effective temporary solution for skill gaps when there is a lack of skilled trades and technicians within a particular region.

Rather than leaving production lines down or critical positions unfilled such as CNC Machinists, Welders, and Maintenance Techs, more companies are turning to contingency staffing because they're able to hire experienced workers that can step right into their operations, acclimate quickly, and ramp up production efficiently. 

Quickly Ramp Up Manufacturing Operations

Even Fortune 500 companies offering great pay and benefits are having trouble filling their factories with full-time employees these days. Add to that, a situation where there is an unexpected spike in demand, how can a company ramp up manufacturing? Finding hundreds of workers locally to add another shift to their operations is nearly impossible, never mind doing so quickly.  

This is where having a contingency plan and a contingency staffing vendor to help becomes critical -- because it's a controlled mobilization, an efficient onboarding process, and continued hands-on project management throughout the project to ensure operational stability.  

Workforce Agility 

In today's rapidly changing business environment it's more important than ever for businesses to remain agile and that goes well beyond technology delivery. We're in a new phase of workforce innovation right now and with increased competition, shrinking product life cycles, and evolving customer interests, companies must be able to alter their direction and adjust quickly.

In today's labor market, forward-thinking companies are shifting their mindset on talent, considering different staffing strategies, preparing contingency plans, and deploying workforces to their facilities across the country in order to maintain their competitive advantage. 

Finding Skilled Welders From All Over The United States


In the video above, Tanya, HR Manager at TCF, describes her experience and the ROI of working with MADI to deliver experienced Welders to her facilities from across the country.  

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Learn more on the ProjectHR Podcast: 

Michele Vincent, Anticipating Staffing Shortages Do You Have a Plan In Place Podcast Interview with ProjectHR

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  1. Why is contingency planning so important nowadays?
  2. What situations can this service be useful in?

Apart from such situations as a pandemic, contingency staffing can help your business during, for example, busy seasons, times of low unemployment, after-disaster time, or when unexpected customer orders come in. Basically, it can help you in any labor shortage or skills gap issue as it provides you with qualified temporary workers right away.

  3. What is a BIA?

BIA stands for a business impact analysis, and it helps to determine what consequences a particular business function’s disruption may cause. Furthermore, it involves collecting all the data necessary for creating efficient recovery strategies. Such factors as, for instance, lost and delayed sales, contractual penalties, and customer losses.

  4. What are recovery strategies?

Recovery strategies are the methods that should be used to restore your business operations to at least a minimum satisfactory level in critical situations.  They are crucial in labor shortages, natural or human-made disasters, utility outages, and many other difficult circumstances.

  5. Can your services be tested first?

It may happen that a company is not convinced about the idea of using contingency staffing services. In such a case, it’s beneficial to test our services with a small group of personnel first.  Namely, you don’t have to request a huge number of temporary workers from the start. Instead, we can bring you just a small group and show it to you that they can work effectively.

  6. How can you find suitable workers for my business so fast?

One of our biggest advantages is that we have access to a national talent pool. Our workers don’t have any problems with traveling to any location within the United States, so we can easily find a workforce with any qualifications you need, usually within two weeks.

  7. Why is workforce agility so significant nowadays?

The present business environment is evolving very quickly, so it is more significant than ever before for companies to stay agile. With so many competitors on the market and with the constantly appearing innovations, it is essential to be able to adapt to changes.  Thanks to contingency staffing services, you will be able to adjust to any circumstances and avoid huge financial losses in the case of some unexpected difficulties.


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