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  • Writer's pictureCheyene Marling

Creative Staffing Solutions to Meet Your Resiliency Program Needs During a Challenging Market

The demand for resilience management professionals is continuing (despite financial market concerns) and it’s unmatched to anything I’ve witnessed in my 25+ years of recruiting in this profession. Now, one might argue that presently we’re experiencing a bit of a cooling period in hiring and that recently there has been an increase in professionals seeking new career opportunities via LinkedIn due to an organizational downsizing. Not to be dismissive of those professionals who have been caught up in a recent layoff, but the numbers do tell a different story. Hopefully, those who have been recently impacted by a downturn will find some comfort and a renewed positive outlook. Let’s dig into why the labor market for resilience management professionals remains extremely tight.

- Low Unemployment Rate: First off, the unemployment rate is at a historic low of 3.4% (reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for April 2023), matching a 50-year low seen in January 2023. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for the resilience management profession is measuring at about 1-2% (data gathered from our 21st Edition 2023 Global BCM Compensation Study).

- Increased Demand: The demand for resilience management professionals is being driven by many factors, including program gaps discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain resiliency challenges, updating archaic systems and applications, addressing the looming cyber threats, and organizations implementing a holistic operational resilience management strategy. In fact, 34% of organizations plan to increase resiliency program staff in the next year (reported in the 2023 Event Impact Management Report). This is a significant increase from the 14% reported in 2018 and 25% in 2021 (both data points gathered respectively from our annual BCM Trends Report).

- A Shortage of Available Talent: The resilience management profession has been unable to meet this 20+ year market high demand for a few reasons.

o Increase in Retirements: A record number of professionals have retired post-COVID. Many of these professionals have been in Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, Crisis Management, Risk, or Security prior to Y2K.

o Lack of New Professionals: The resilience management profession has always struggled in attracting and retaining new talent. First off, there are limited degree programs serving as a gateway into resiliency planning. Additionally, the general public doesn’t truly understand what resilience management is or that it even exists as a career. Furthermore, as quickly as a professional transitions into resiliency planning, they may transition out to another career discipline (i.e. security, operations, cyber).

o Professionals opt for Remote Working: Now more than ever before professionals are opting for that work-life balance. If an individual is already working mostly remote to fully remote, why would they choose to go into the office more or even relocate for a new job? The data from our 2023 compensation study indicated that 66% of resiliency professionals are on-site less than 2 days/week and 30% of these professionals are 100% remote. Compare this to 34% of professionals who are on-site more than 2 days/week and only 9% of these individuals are in the office 100%.

o Fewer Active Job Seekers: The increased demand for resiliency professionals from 2020 onwards prompted many professionals to flirt with a job search, thus they are not actively looking to change employers quite yet.

  • The same 2023 compensation study noted that 51% of the respondents have been employed with their current employer for less than three years, which is an increase from 46% reported in the same study in 2022. Unfortunately, the study did not gather this data point prior to 2021.

  • The data from the 2023 compensation study also highlighted that globally 32% of professionals made a job change in the last year with 15% noting that they proactively sought a new position with a new company. This is in line with the 16% who noted the same the year before and an increase from the data point (9%) reported in 2021.

  • Additionally, the 2023 compensation data highlighted that 25% were either likely or very likely to make a job change in the next year. And while this may seem like a lot, the job market has been surging well over 25% since April 2020. Also, 44% indicated that they were unlikely to make a job change in the next year. Unfortunately, the study did not gather these data points prior to 2021.

Given this challenging market with a historic unemployment rate, increased demand for resiliency professionals, and a shortage of available talent it is opportunistic to think outside of the box with staffing. Most hiring managers rely on the basic staffing models of direct-hire or contract/staff augmentation, but there is another option worth considering – Contractor-on-Demand (COD). Today’s demanding climate is perfect for such a unique model and fortunately, Witt O’Brien’s is currently onboarding several semi-retired professionals and independent consultants to help organizations meet specific program tasks to achieve the right level of resilience. You might first be asking yourself what the COD model is and how is it different from contract/staff augmentation. Let’s walk through some of the similarities and differences as well as the benefits that the COD model provides.

Similarly, to contract/staff augmentation, COD is best suited for project-related, tactical tasks for a finite period of time and there is someone within your organization who can directly manage the professional(s). We’ve previously assisted organizations in placing contract staff to assist with various stages of the program life cycle within resilience management, business continuity, IT service continuity, crisis management, cyber resiliency, risk management, third-party risk management, and security. Contract staff can assist with any short-term related project that you can manage while keeping you free to be strategic. Essentially, look at solving a short-term business problem tied to a specific program deliverable.

Secondly, this creative staffing option is very common in other disciplines from IT, security, accounting, and program management. Many organizations will utilize contract staff to even cover the shortfall in personnel during a maternity/paternity leave or short-term disability. If your addition to headcount was denied, your awaiting approval for headcount, or (even worse yet) your company has implemented a hiring freeze, will this shortfall in staff impact your ability to protect your organization’s employees and assets, meet your customer needs, or jeopardize your ability to respond to a crisis or audit? The first step is understanding the time it will take to accomplish your program goals and then how much you can realistically accomplish with the number of current personnel. If you’re falling short of hours and your addition to headcount is stalled or denied, then propose an alternative for COD staff to avoid overburdening your current team.

Engaging COD staff can be easier and quicker than hiring an FTE. With an FTE, you need to make the business case that a new hire is needed for an indefinite amount of time in addition to going through the budget approval process. Also, once you receive the approval to add staff the job is posted via your internal Human Resources/Recruitment team and then you must go through the exhaustive interviewing process. In today’s challenging employment market, you could easily go 6-9 months from posting your opening to having your new hire working and somewhat trained on your program’s methodology. Are you willing to wait that long?

How is contract/staff augmentation different from the COD staffing model? In many cases when hiring contract/staff augmentation personnel your internal Human Resources/Recruitment team goes through the same process as if they were hiring a direct-hire professional. Not to dismiss this incredibly valuable team, but unfortunately, you still lose valuable time to accomplish your program goals. Even worse yet, by the time you have your new contract employee fully trained, they could easily leave your contract role for a permanent, direct-hire position. Now you’re back to the very beginning of identifying a new professional and getting them onboard and trained.

Under the COD staffing model, Witt O’Brien’s is currently onboarding various professionals who are not seeking full-time, permanent employment. Many of these professionals have recently semi-retired and they are delighted to take on project-related, tactical tasks that might range from a few days, weeks, to even months. Additionally, our COD professionals are vetted via our experienced team, they must pass a background check and drug test, and they are fully onboarded under Witt O’Brien’s and ready to be engaged – saving you valuable time and money.

Lastly, it is important to note that the COD staffing model is quite different from consulting. COD personnel are meant to take on tactical tasks to free up your time to be more strategic. Additionally, COD personnel would be directed under your company’s management. Consulting services, on the other hand, are meant to be strategic in nature in developing, implementing, and assessing a program, especially if there is limited bandwidth to manage a program internally.

Don’t get discouraged or bogged down with all the tactical tasks you need to accomplish and then inevitably frustrated that you’re unable to get approval to hire or your role goes open too long. Please know that we’re here to help if you’re challenged with your staffing model or making a business case for alternative staffing solutions. With decades of recruitment expertise in business continuity, resiliency, IT service continuity, risk management, crisis management, and security, we have so many secrets to share. Arrange a complimentary discussion today at

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