Cleveland, Ohio –    Labor strategies embraced by construction contractors during the Great Recession are shaping their response to the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions.

“When it comes to staffing in times of uncertainty, it is safer and more prudent to run a leaner full-time workforce, comprised only of top craft professionals, and supplement that core craft workforce with contract skilled craftsmen on an ‘only as needed’ basis. This ‘Smart Staffing’ tactic creates a core staff level, avoids costly spikes and dips, and actually saves thousands of dollars over the long term,” explained Mike Christiansen, chief operations officer at Tradesmen International, a national construction staffing firm.

A motivator for embracing this strategy now is the timeframe. Unlike the previous recession, construction projects during this current COVID-19 impacted economy will likely rebound within months vs. over multiple years.

To prepare for this, construction contractors are adopting what Tradesmen International has coined a “CORE + Flex” labor staffing strategy.  Contractors of all sizes can work with Tradesmen’s construction labor management trained consultants to ascertain what volume of full-time craft employees makes sense for their business.  They can also provide guidance on how to identify which specific craft employees should be brought back on after being laid off, and when.

“The CORE + Flex staffing strategy is exactly right for today,” said Christiansen. “With governmental and healthcare expert opinions varying day by day on which state, or which businesses should open and when, our clients are doing the smart thing — playing it safe with Smart Staffing. 

Christiansen explained that in many cases project workloads are hard to predict week-to-week, forcing contractors to scramble to find job-ready electricians or carpenters at the last minute to send to a work site. That scramble leads to sacrifices in safety, worker skill, deadlines or budget overruns. By adopting a stable core staffing level, supplemented by on-demand staffing, contractors actually find they can afford higher quality professionals with no sacrifice to job profitability.

“They are running their businesses with only their most productive, safest and best skilled craft professionals,” continued Christiansen.  “When workload begins to ramp up beyond what this leaner core workforce can handle, they’re not adding permanent payroll.  Like after the 2009 recession, they’re supplementing their core workers with contract skilled craftsmen.  By staying in close contact with our 180 offices, they’re able to give our local recruiters an ample four-to-six day lead time on trades needed.  The result is that Tradesmen confidently – with an approximate 90 percent or better fill-rate – provides the number of contract workers requested, at the right skill level, precisely as needed.  By sending our employees back when workload slows, our clients are sustaining a profitable, productive workforce.”

Using contract skilled labor has other advantages that positively impact contractor bottom lines.  Tradesmen covers all payroll, unemployment, benefits and Workers’ Comp related costs and risks on their employees. This shelters contractors from expenditures they’d normally have to pay on short-term, full-time workers.

Tradesmen International is offering contractors across America a free consultation including a custom Labor Productivity Analysis that, using client data, enables contractors to implement a logical Core + Flex staffing strategy.



Tradesmen International, an Ohio-based company with nearly 200 locations nationally, has provided contract skilled labor to construction and industrial partners since 1992.  Partners benefit from Tradesmen’s recruiting expertise and magnitude, having at their disposal pre-screened craftsmen in all trades, at all skill levels.  The severe shortage of verifiably skilled craftsmen across North America has otherwise made this a daunting task for construction business management.  In addition, Tradesmen’s business model centers on enabling partners to sustain a balance between workload and workers which traditionally helps businesses achieve exceptional profit margin gains. 

From a construction worker perspective, the company’s continuous relationships with multiple contractors in an area enables Tradesmen to provide craft employees improved job stability.  This is possible as, prior to the current project ending, the employee is already being marketed for their next assignment via a local team of sales professionals.