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Mitigate the Effects of the Global Talent Shortage With These Key Strategies

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Mitigate the Effects of the Global Talent Shortage With These Key Strategies

Dec 20, 2023

John McCurdy
An executive looks out the window in a tall building.

Around the world and in nearly every major industry, the ongoing talent shortage looms large. A combination of factors—from the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the “Great Resignation” of millions of disengaged workers, to the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation and the rise of the gig economy—have led to difficulty filling roles for a shocking 77% of businesses.

Unfortunately, this trend shows no sign of abating, as consulting firm Korn Ferry’s recent report predicted that, globally, more than 85 million jobs could go unfilled by 2030, potentially amounting to approximately $8.5 trillion USD in unrealized revenue as a result. Thus, it would seem that the fear of robots replacing human workers isn’t nearly as big an issue as finding qualified people to hire.

What’s more, there are also considerable skills gaps in sectors that don’t traditionally appeal to younger workers, like manufacturing and distribution, shrinking the pool of candidates even further. The truck driver shortage and resultant supply chain crises in multiple countries show the far-reaching ramifications of specific roles remaining vacant and services being slowed or even ceased altogether.

That puts the onus on today’s businesses to not only attract and retain skilled labor, but also to make the most of existing staff, systems and equipment. We’ll cover these three key endeavors in more depth in the coming sections, breaking them down into individual tactics that your company can implement to overcome the challenges you face due to the talent shortage.

Focus Area 1: Attract New Staff

Recruiting and hiring new employees obviously isn’t a novel idea, and your organization has no doubt engaged in the process in the past and likely remains engaged in it to some extent. But by thinking about how you pursue and bring on workers during this labor shortage, as well as what your business can give them on top of a competitive salary, you can have better success finding and securing the right people.

Recruit Strategically

By using data and analytics to identify patterns in how many applications you receive and how well they align with your expectations, you can better understand why you’re not finding the candidates you need. From there, you can re-evaluate the job listings that your company posts and find ways to make them more enticing to the individuals you’re pursuing.

You can also consider soliciting feedback from applicants who either drop out of the interview process or turn down roles eventually offered to them. Their candid comments can be very helpful in revising and improving your approach in the future.

Offer Compelling Benefits

Paying your workers wages on which they can live comfortably and feel supported by the organization is clearly a must. But beyond that, you should also be sure to provide appealing benefits according to your industry and region, which could include health insurance, attractive retirement plans, ample paid time off and more. Today's candidates will click away from any listing that doesn’t include such provisions.

In the U.S., if your company is too small to offer health insurance, you can look into health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) to help employees new and old afford essential services. Stipends—whether for health, remote work, education or other expenses—are also attractive to applicants.

Provide Training Opportunities

New hires typically don’t imagine remaining in entry-level roles forever. They want to learn and grow as professionals, just as those in higher positions did before them, so that they can eventually take on additional responsibility and earn more. That’s why you should offer learning and training outlets to help your recent additions expand their capabilities and unlock opportunities for promotion.

Your seasoned in-house staff can contribute on this front by mentoring younger employees and teaching them useful skills and relevant subject matter. You can also look into partnering with local programs and colleges to offer courses for your staff or bringing in speakers for the whole organization to hear.

Focus Area 2: Retain Existing Employees

Your current staff are the core of your business and your most precious asset. They have extensive knowledge of your processes and policies, as well as the larger industry in which you operate. They also have highly specialized skills and “tribal knowledge” that needs to be preserved. Combine all these factors together, and it’s clearly vital that you retain them for as long as you can.

Allow Flexibility in Responsibilities

Subjecting your staff to long hours and poor working conditions will not only create resentment and prompt resignations—it could also get your business in trouble with the law. Of course, your organization would never let workers suffer on the job, and allowing for flexibility in responsibilities according to circumstances and preferences can go a long way in keeping employees happy.

Monitor not only how long your staff are working each day, but also what tasks they do most frequently to ensure that no individuals bear the majority of the most difficult and demanding activities. And while “sprints” are sometimes necessary, always remember that your workers’ well-being is non-negotiable.

Foster an Inspiring Company Culture

Evaluating workers solely by productivity and only rewarding those who generate easily quantifiable results is unfair. It can also discourage creative thinking and the development of soft skills like communication, which is critical for cohesive operations across an organization and extremely important for any individual who might take on a management role.

So, instead of focusing only on quotas or efficiency scores, value and celebrate individuality among your staff. Recognize and respect differences, and showcase instances in which an employee makes a valuable contribution by coming up with an idea for improvement or offering assistance to others.

Grant Opportunities for Remote/Hybrid Work

For many workers, the shift to working from home during the pandemic has created an expectation, and many businesses are rethinking their approach to maintaining an office and setting attendance requirements. Some jobs will require that employees are on the premises to conduct certain procedures, but forcing everyone to commute every day can be counterproductive.

Find ways to empower your staff with the tools they need to complete their tasks from wherever they like, such as cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, for at least for a portion of the week. That both promotes their work-life balance and shows them that they have your respect and trust.

Focus Area 3: Maximize Existing Resources

In addition to landing the right candidates and holding on to your talent, you’ll also need to fully leverage all the resources at your disposal to succeed amidst this skilled labor shortage. Your efforts should encompass additional training for your employees, improvement of processes through the application of technology and incorporation of innovative new tools.

Reskill and Upskill Workers

We mentioned the idea of offering specialized training previously as a way to attract talent, but that practice can also serve the purpose of reskilling and upskilling staff when your processes change or new roles open up. The modern business world moves quickly, and that means every industry is constantly evolving, so it makes sense to help your employees diversify and augment their skillsets.

To understand how this might help your business adapt and grow despite challenges, consider the case of a food manufacturer that faces the daunting task of reformulating multiple products to comply with new legislation. The compliance experts on-staff could educate the formulation specialists on the regulations and how to best design compliant products to minimize the risk of violations.

Digitize and Automate Processes

Paper-based practices are a thing of the past at this point, but they persist in many organizations simply because that’s “the way things have always been done.” Digital transformation is the present and future—managing your operations with purpose-built solutions can improve operational efficiency and automate processes, giving your staff more time for mission-critical tasks.

In the trucking industry, proof of delivery systems can streamline common procedures and make your drivers more effective in their roles, which is a key objective given the aforementioned trucker shortage. Meanwhile, in the fashion and apparel industry, a variety of systems can be deployed to automate processes, boosting efficiency and allowing employees to concentrate on key responsibilities.

Explore Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

Robotics have already seen adoption in many manufacturing settings, as they can perform tasks with precision without requiring any human intervention. Artificial intelligence (AI) has rapidly gone from science-fiction to buzzword and now reality as applications are explored across every industry, and the technology is poised to transform business operations in the coming years.

Imagine implementing robotic arms to handle a complicated, time-consuming procedure in a manufacturing process, saving hours of time and labor while allowing for the reallocation of staff to other tasks. And analysis of consumer trends and purchasing patterns—which is crucial across many verticals—can be enhanced via the application of AI and machine learning to improve accuracy.

Staffing Struggles? Turn to Technology

We’ve discussed the three biggest focus areas for businesses impacted by the ongoing talent shortage, and while technology was involved in all of them to some extent, it warrants some additional attention as we conclude to emphasize its potential to make your company more efficient, day in and day out.

The term “gamechanger” is played out, but it’s apt here, as software solutions can drive productivity and streamline processes. ERP, product lifecycle management (PLM), enterprise asset management (EAM) and route optimization software all come with features that make your workers’ tasks easier to complete, as well as powerful automations that save time and effort.

Then, there are overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) systems, which are dedicated to increasing productivity through real-time performance tracking, identification of operational bottlenecks and continuous improvement. This robust solution also allows manufacturers to track manufacturing losses and labor consumed on every line in your facility, as well as changeover and sanitation procedure times.

If you’re looking to take the next step and start contacting business software vendors, keep in mind the potential scope of your tech stack, and identify those providers who can meet all your needs under one “digital roof.” Aptean offers all of the solutions mentioned above, plus many more that support critical functions, so you can concentrate on doing what you do best while our software handles the rest.

Want to learn more about how technology can lead to major efficiency benefits in multiple industries? Learn how distributors can reap the rewards of automation in trucking, or how ERP can automate processes across multiple departments for food manufacturers.

And as always, feel free to contact us with any questions, or check out our full suite of manufacturing software solutions.

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