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What to Expect in Business Continuity Employment for the Last Half of 2021

Top Insights from the 2021 BC Compensation Report

Before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, the U.S. business continuity industry saw an average of about 20-25 new job postings each week, with about 30-35 on average internationally. While other industries around the globe struggled to adapt—and many experienced unprecedented job losses—business continuity managed to thrive and grow.

After a slight downturn in March 2020, U.S. new business continuity job postings reached an average of 30-35 per week, with international numbers increasing to 40-45 posts. We even saw two weeks in the height of the pandemic reach 75 new job postings.

In 20 years, we’ve never seen that amount of activity! We’re even noticing the job postings are going unfilled for 90 or even 120+ days. Organizations are struggling more than ever before in sourcing and attracting top talent to address their resiliency needs.

Will this trend continue throughout 2021? The outlook is promising.

Business Continuity Job Trends

Historically, numbers reflect a decrease in new postings throughout the end-of-the-year holidays, with an uptick in mid-January and February and then upward or stable trends into May.

Throughout 2021, however, we may see an uptick in new postings we could attribute to the effectiveness of many business continuity programs during the pandemic. With the profession front-and-center for many organizations, the pandemic highlighted the value of continuity planning, but it also helped teams quantify value and better communicate program needs to executives and key stakeholders.

Pandemic response also helped identify several gaps in crisis management programs, which still need addressing, and that may fuel more job postings through the remainder of 2021, as well as an increase in the number of engagements for business continuity, disaster planning, resiliency advisors, and related professional services.

Also, more organizations now acknowledge the need for additional resources as ongoing pandemic response stretches existing staff where teams may fall behind on much-needed routine business continuity and disaster recovery planning throughout the year.

During a recent Castellan webinar, about 52% of respondents said their organization had suspended recurring business continuity activities during the pandemic. Throughout the last half of 2021, it’s going to be important to return to those core functions as we prepare for future disruptions.

Not only are organizations increasing job postings for day-to-day business continuity positions, but we’re also seeing a surge in related senior leadership roles. New senior leadership positions increased by as much as 57% after the outbreak. This may be reflective of a lack of business continuity program planning—or a lot of decentralized programs—before the pandemic, with a move in 2021 to shore up the programs in a more centralized manner.

If 2021 trends reflect historical trends, we may see a reduction in new job postings in the summer, which are likely to pick back up in August through the holiday season.

Stabilization Through the Pandemic

While we’ve talked with several business continuity professionals who say they’re working through pandemic burnout, the new 2021 BCM Compensation Report published in partnership with the BCI, indicates many remained resilient and stayed with their organizations through the past year.

This stability is reflected in:

  • 85% of respondents indicating they’ve stayed with their same organization

    • 75% had no change

    • 7% received promotions

    • 3% made lateral moves

  • Only 9% proactively sought a new position with a new company and an additional 7% were downsized (2% company acquisition, 3% program restructuring, 1% downsized due to COVID-19, and 1% terminated)

Although these professionals extended their commitments with existing employers, the report showed that average global base pay increased at only 1.3% (reaching $111,755) in 2020 compared to the previous year.

The Experience Value

As we’re seeing reflected in industry stabilization for 2020, many of the respondents also appear to be committed to the industry overall.

About 67% of the professionals have more than 20 years total work experience, with 14% having that same amount of work experience in business continuity planning.

Interestingly, the report highlights what we already knew working in the industry, that many of today’s business continuity and operational resilience professionals started out in a different discipline and moved into business continuity.

Among the top path leading respondents to business continuity are:

  • Management: 21%

  • IT-Operations: 18%

  • Program management: 18%

  • Operations: 17%

  • Business process improvement: 16%

  • IT-Systems: 16%

  • Risk management-operational: 14%

  • Business analyst: 14%

  • Administrative: 13%

  • Consultant: 13%

The report also demonstrates that today’s business continuity pros are well educated, with more than 81% earning an advanced degree with a little less than 10% having an advance degree in business continuity. Likewise, 81% of respondents have relevant certifications.

Building Your Team

If we are to glean from the report findings, we may deduce it could be challenging to recruit external business continuity professionals for the rest of 2021. Instead, we may be well-served by focusing our attention inward on existing employees and the value they bring to our programs.

As teams look to hire for new positions, we should shift our focus away from hiring just planners—people who can build plans and playlists in a check-box fashion—and look for employees with a range of soft skills, such as the ability to strategize for business continuity as an enterprise program, one that considers all aspects of organizational resilience and can build it into the organizational culture. Situational awareness is also a critical competency as it pertains to crisis management.

We should look for pros with intellectual curiosity about how it all fits together and the ability to successfully work and communicate across all departments to break down silos and facilitate organizational-wide buy-in.

It’s also important to seek out professionals who can effectively communicate to your mid-level managers and those responsible for business continuity tasks, but also upward to executives and key stakeholders.

Going forward, successful business continuity programs will likely be less about event management and more about creating value so everyone within your organization understands what business continuity is, how the program works, what it’s meant to do, and the role it plays in organizational resiliency.

If you’re having difficulties finding the right people for business continuity or operational resilience roles within your organization, don’t forget about the pool of available consultants.

The Compensation report found that fixed-term/contract consultants had more work experience than permanent employees (49% of independent contractors had more than 30 years total work experience in comparison to 37% of those permanently employed).

Fixed-term/independent consultants are also looking for stability with their partner organizations, with 45% saying they’ve been engaged in a contract for the last 12 months, with a majority of independent contractors engaged in contracts spanning three to six months.

Requesting More Resources

If you’re on the fence about needing additional team members or resources, here are a few recommendations that may help solidify your case to build executive support:

  • Evaluate current staffing models

  • Review what you need to accomplish, why it’s important, and quantify it in a way that resonates with your executives

  • Align your program needs with your organizational goals and objectives

  • Clarify and quantify challenges of achieving program and organizational goals with existing staff, financial support, and resources

  • Use COVID-19 as a compelling event to emphasize why it’s important for your organization to invest in business continuity

  • Highlight program successes, especially resiliency metrics during the pandemic and other recent disruptive events

  • Make a recommendation about which additional resources you need to meet your goals

  • Consider staffing alternatives, such as working with contractors, advisors, and/or managed services

  • Establish a timeframe for achieving objectives with existing staff and resources and make a comparison against what that would look like with your requested additions

Do you need help determining the right level of resources and support for your business continuity program, both today and in the future? Consider working with a BC Management/ Castellan advisor. We can help you evaluate your existing program and build a use case for your executives and key stakeholders to help ensure your organization remains resilient, even during uncertain times. If you want more insight into the 2021 BCM Compensation Report, you can download it for free here.

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