5 Ways To Address The Labor Shortage Through Efficiencies

Virtually every business is experiencing difficulties in recruiting qualified candidates and retaining quality employees. Instead of spending an outrageous amount of money recruiting a depleted workforce, spending time to improve efficiencies and the work environment can go a long way towards better retention and recruitment success.

Simplify Tasks

Businesses often get stuck with process inefficiencies cemented into place with the phrase “That’s how we have always done it.” Listening to the employees who perform routine daily tasks when they recommend “make things easier” can often provide insight and increase efficiency. 

Establishing a review process that opens a discussion among supervisors, managers, and employees on what can be done to limit mistakes, save time, or simplify tasks can deliver real-time-saving alternatives. 

Knowing your employees’ skills and behavioral styles is essential for maximizing efficiency. For example, an extroverted, creative, out-of-the-box thinker is probably great for pitching ideas to clients. However, they might struggle if they are given a more rule-intensive, detail-oriented task.

Asking your employees to be great at everything isn’t efficient – instead, before giving an employee an assignment, ask yourself: is this the person best suited to perform this task? If not, find someone else whose skills and styles match your needs.

Update Equipment

Instead of increasing recruiting budgets, it may be time to look at office equipment improvements to reduce labor requirements. Something as simple as computer upgrades, faster printers, improved software, or other relatively inexpensive modifications providing efficiencies. Better communication and scheduling services can reduce time spent in non-productive meetings and the cost of missed deadlines or work quotas.

Technology continues to move forward at an astounding rate, and staying current with innovative solutions can deliver cost-effective improvements in workplace efficiencies.

Review The Work Environment

The quality of the work environment matters to employees, especially in a tight labor market when they have options. We hear that the work environment is typically one of the main reasons an employee will leave their job, not necessarily pay. This is especially true in industrial facilities where they do something that they didn’t expect would be challenging:

  • Reaching and squatting in a fulfillment center
  • Handling raw meat in a food processing environment
  • Being subjected to extreme cold or hot temperatures

Employers stated that if facilities are not air-conditioned or heated comfortably, this contributed significantly to employee turnover. Other facilities saw higher turnover rates if there were heavy odors, dust, or work required outside in the weather elements.

Employers should be attuned to how the work environment is affecting employees. Could investing in an HVAC system drastically help reduce the costs associated with employee turnover? When employers have a less-than-ideal working environment, it is imperative that they fully understand the local wage competition and understand how wages can be used to overcome work environment challenges that cannot be changed.

Modify Schedules

Schedule preferences matter to employees, particularly with millennials. Employers reported that millennials were quite willing to work the night shift, overtime, and put in long hours. It’s not a question of work ethic…it’s more about predictability. Millennials do not like it when their schedule is unpredictable. Employers reported higher turnover rates when schedules are not as consistent. Employers should be aware of this preference and work to accommodate a more stable and predictable work schedule to retain their skilled workforce.

Incentivizing Employees For Efficiency

One of the best ways to encourage employees to be more efficient is to give them a reason to do so. Recognizing your workers for a job well done will make them feel appreciated and encourage them to increase their productivity.

When deciding how to reward efficient employees, make sure you consider their individual needs or preferences. For example, one employee might appreciate public recognition, while another would prefer a private “thank you.” In addition to simple words of gratitude, here are a few incentives you can try:

  • PTO: Instead of a bonus or raise, you can offer your employees additional paid time off without having to use their vacation or sick time.
  • Take Them Out For A Meal: You can take the team out to lunch, dinner, or happy hour. Or, if you’re practicing social distancing, send a GrubHub or DoorDash gift card.
  • Send A Handwritten Note: Sending a handwritten note shows you recognize the great work your employees have done and that you care enough to put your time into thanking them.
  • Tell Your Boss: If you email the team or team member thanking them for their work, consider copying YOUR boss on the email.
  • Try A Wellness Program: Consider implementing a workplace wellness program to cut down on the number of sick days and reduce your company’s overall health insurance spend.

With luck, the current labor shortage will dissipate as the economy returns to a post-COVID normal. Until then, think creatively about overcoming the staffing shortage by implementing one or more of these ideas.