Your Workforce by Roger Herman

Employers Will Build Reserve Staffs

While they have lived through the labor shortage and high turnover era of the late 1990s, many employers are now faced with another vulnerability. In the US and other countries engaged in the War on Terrorism, military reservists can be called into action at any time. Employers dare not be caught short. Without sufficient personnel, they may not be able to serve their customers and thereby risk serious competitive disadvantages.

To protect themselves, employers will build reserve capacity into their staffing. A variety of approaches will be taken, usually as a quiet strategy, rather than as an overt component of the company's staffing process.

In rare cases, employers will over-staff, a dangerous practice in a weak economy. Others will invest in strategic initiatives with staffing companies, building a cadre of qualified and pre-screened workers, who can be hired at a moment's notice.

Many companies will develop contingency plans to delay projects or farm work out to other companies. In their complicated planning processes, they will emphasize a contingency approach, so they will be ready for any sort of eventuality. Some employers will actually reduce their potential for success by spending too much time and other resources preparing for worst-case scenarios. This energy that could be much better invested in forward movement.

Most employers concerned about protecting themselves will recruit potential hires for vulnerable positions, completing interviewing and pre-employment screening. They will maintain an on-call list, ready to activate standby personnel, if needed. Companies supported by close relationships with staffing organizations will collaborate with those suppliers to develop a register of temporary workers to fill-in.

These actions will be taken quietly for strategic reasons. Having stronger human resource capacity may be a decided tactical advantage in the case of military-induced personnel reductions and in the case of a rapidly growing economy. Savvy employers will be ready. Companies that are prepared can assure their sales professionals that they can promote goods and services with greater confidence than their competitors. Orders will be filled. Back-up staffing will become a significant advantage within the next six months.

Roger Herman is owner of The Herman Group, Greensboro, NC and is a specialist in employee retention.


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