March 17, 2020

5 Reasons Every Company Should Be Contingency Planning for their Contingent Workforce

Many businesses call their people their most important asset, and yet people are often overlooked when companies develop a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). In the wake of a disaster, most contingency plans focus on IT systems and critical infrastructure, but rarely on the people that maintain all those systems.  Moreover, if they are considered, the focus tends to be on full-time employees, yet on average, 30%+ of the workforce are non-employee under short-term contract (even more so in large tech organizations).  In fact, in the next eight years, research suggests that a typical workforce mix will be closer to 50:50.  

It is crucially important for companies to contemplate their entire extended workforce as they design their BCPs.  At risk is the sort of agility and resilience that enables a fast recovery from any type of major market shift or widespread incident(such as we are currently facing with COVID-19).

The following will explore the five biggest reasons why you should consider the total extended workforce when crafting a Business Continuity Plan:

1. Access: Many non-employees are expected to work on-site and under the direction of a manager.  If the company has not contemplated enabling work to be done remotely, then many of their resources may need to sit idle and unproductive until a resolution is found.

 

2. Geographic Dispersion: If working with companies that operate in more of a managed services model, from their own facilities (foreign or domestic), a company must contemplate the ability for their supplier to “fail over” to another site, or have alternative resources who can serve in a back-up capacity should people or a facility become inoperable, thus minimizing the reliance on a singular company or site to perform that work.  While this is typically contemplated in a company’s disaster recovery plan, it is not often contemplated in a broader company wide BCP.

 

 3. People are Impacted as much as Companies:When disasters strike, it’s not just systems that are impacted.  In the current case with COVID-19, many scenarios may play out, including restrictions in travel, people being quarantined, manufacturing slow-downs, utilities management disruption, etc.  Even if a company is unable to predict what might happen (no one has a crystal ball!) they ought to know that something can and likely will happen at some point and be prepared for it.  Companies need to think ahead and do some workforce planning to understand what options exist when people are impacted. While difficult, having the right tools to understand the landscape in real-time will also aid in shrinking the time to react and recover.

 

4. “People Systems” are also Critical: Many(if not most) companies rely on systems, people and processes to manage their extended workforce.  A company’s ability to recruit and replace employees and non-employees depends on these systems.  In the event of a disaster, not accounting for these systems (or the people who manage them) in a BCP could lead to a company’s inability to react quickly to issues should large amounts of resources be needed to aid in recover efforts, or if projects need to be shifted to other resources or geographies.

5. People are Needed to Recover from a Disaster: Following an incident, the full extended workforce will be brought to bear to recover (“all hands on deck!”) and get a company back to normal operations. Given the difficulty in finding, and the time lag in onboarding, resources, preparedness will short cycle these efforts and get a company back on its feet much more quickly.

Disasters notwithstanding, there are a myriad of scenarios in which supplier resources, staffing suppliers or any of the associated systems or infrastructure could be impacted. If you underestimate these, you won’t be able to effectively manage your extended workforce in any scenario, which will most certainly lead to a lack of flexibility and productivity. Companies focus time and attention on putting“insurance” in place on so many aspects of their businesses, and yet human capital, which can have the biggest impact, is not always on that list.  While this planning can be difficult, the good news is that tools and resources exist to make it much easier.

Many companies are using Brightfield to build contingency plans for their contingent workforce of contractors, consultants, freelancers and gig workers. Brightfield’s analytics platform, Talent Data Exchange or TDX, measures and manages the cost, risk and performance of the extended workforce, enabling companies to understand the true market value of their unified workforce of contractors and employees. To execute successful BCPs,companies should leverage real-time intelligence on the market price of labor, as well as what discrete skills and activities are required to complete mission-critical projects; armed with this information, companies can more effectively optimize the speed and spend of their workforce.  

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