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Mitigating the impact of coronavirus on manufacturing

Mitigating the impact of coronavirus on manufacturing

It’s official - we’ve reached a new low. According to the International Monetary Fund, today’s global economy has seen its sharpest reversal since the Great Depression. In March 2020, the American economy saw over 700,000 jobs lost, which ended almost 5 years of continuous job growth. Almost 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks of the month alone, surpassing even the impact of the 2009 worldwide financial crisis. What initially seemed to be a series of speed bumps in economic activity has quickly turned into a complete meltdown of global supply and demand. 

In all of this madness, manufacturing businesses are scrambling to curb the rapid decline. Many industry leaders are struggling to respond to pressing questions surrounding employee job security, supply chain integrity, financial impact mitigation, and a declining demand led by market uncertainty. 

World uncertainty index

While the answers aren’t clear yet, here are some tips to help cushion some of the impact: 

Diversify, diversify, diversify

In the past weeks, we’ve seen innovative manufacturers explore new possibilities to keep businesses afloat. In fact, many have made an extraordinary effort to support frontline workers, repurposing manufacturing lines and facilities in order to support the cause and generate new opportunities to sustain their businesses. Baltimore-based wire manufacturer Marlin Steel took on a unique emergency order to make wire test tube racks for coronavirus testing - a product they hadn’t once made prior to the crisis. Wherever possible, consider diversifying like they did too.

Collaborate with others

Alleviating the impact of the coronavirus on a national scale is too daunting and too urgent a task for any single entity to address by themselves. We need to work together—as business and industry leaders—to present a unified response. A great starting point would be the National Association for Manufacturing (NAM), as well as state-level associations. These organizations can help facilitate cross-business partnerships and even provide great ideas on diversification based on the needs of the federal government, local hospitals, and medical professionals.

Stay informed

If the past few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that we live in extremely volatile times. It is therefore more important than ever to keep updated on the latest developments, especially industry-relevant news. Specifically, look out for updates on the $2 Trillion COVID-19 Stimulus bill that could be of significance to your business. Many of the discussions surrounding manufacturing provisions are still underway - such as NAM requesting the federal government to create the “Manufacturing Resiliency Fund,” which would include $1.4 trillion in loans to provide desperately needed liquidity to manufacturers and small businesses. Keep updates on issues like this, it could be paramount to surviving the effects of the global pandemic.

Explore new opportunities

This downturn offers the chance to take stock — of processes, manpower, technology, and opportunities. Here’s an opportunity for businesses to improve and modernize your approach and position your company to emerge stronger when the tide turns. If cashflow is a concern, there are a number of loan options available to help you through this difficult time. 

Prepare for the future

Yes, you heard it here first - things will get better. And when that does happen, you do not want to be caught off guard. The Manufacturing Institute is already anticipating that there will be a resurgence of mass training and hiring due to future pent-up demand. To avoid a future crisis of a shortage of skilled workers, you should strive to retain your current workforce as much as possible. Maintain that employer-employee relationship, while exploring future options to grow the employee pool. 

In the words of Jay Timmons, President & CEO of National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), life does go on. It may be vastly different, but it has to. With the right contingency planning, we can all survive the current crisis. Here at Workstream, we’ve made it a personal commitment to help businesses during this critical period. If you have a present hiring need, let us know how we can help you.

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