Labor shortages are nothing new, but the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked significant shortages across the country and several industries. From logistics and trucking to food and beverages, many sectors have more unfilled job openings than people to fill them.
While there is no one perfect solution businesses can use to overcome a worker shortage, implementing new technologies can alleviate some of the issues stemming from the shortage. Continue reading to learn about how businesses use technology to combat their workforce shortages.
Understanding U.S. Labor Shortages
Aside from the pandemic, one factor contributing to increases in labor shortages is The Great Resignation. An unprecedented number of American employees quit their jobs in 2021. This widespread movement hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down this year.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country has 11.3 million unfilled jobs, but only six million unemployed workers. Employees surveyed by the Chamber of Commerce reported a few reasons why they haven’t returned to work, including:
- They have to remain home to care for children or other family members, making it hard to return to work.
- There is a lack of good jobs.
- Workers are concerned about returning to work because of the pandemic.
- Pay is too low.
- Some are focused on acquiring new knowledge and skills before revisiting the job market.
In addition to ongoing labor shortages, it’s common for companies to terminate employees that are no longer needed. Some common reasons companies terminate employees include unsatisfactory attendance, misconduct, or poor job performance. While the decision to fire an employee is not easy, it can be even more difficult when the company is already short-staffed.
Regardless of these reasons, businesses must find ways to manage worker shortages to remain profitable and operate as efficiently as possible.
How Businesses Leverage Technology to Fight Worker Shortages
More and more companies are investing in new and emerging technologies because they provide intangible benefits. From streamlining workflows and managing projects to optimizing delivery routes and improving user experiences (UXs), many new technologies can be implemented to help businesses achieve their goals. The following are some specific ways businesses are leveraging technology to fight worker shortages.
1. Big Data to Guide Better Decision-Making
While big data may seem like a buzzword, it’s become a hot topic of conversation in the business world. Big data describes large, complex datasets that traditional data processing solutions cannot handle. Big data environments enable businesses to take advantage of valuable insights previously unavailable to make better, strategic, and evidence-based decisions.
For example, businesses may use big data to understand customer behavior better, identify bottlenecks in processes, detect fraudulent transactions, and improve supply chain management. It’s possible that big data solutions can also help businesses optimize their employee schedules and find the right employees and build up their staff.
2. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to Handle Repetitive or Physically Demanding Tasks
RPA is carving out a place in many industries, such as manufacturing, financial services, health care, insurance, logistics, and utilities. It’s estimated that RPA can be applied to 60% of manufacturing tasks, 43% of banking, financial services, and insurance processing, and 36% of healthcare and social services activities. Using RPA is invaluable when a company does not have enough workers to complete these tasks.
Additionally, advanced tech, like full-body powered exoskeletons, can open up the hiring pool for companies. These exoskeletons enable workers with limited mobility or other physical ailments to perform physically demanding tasks. They can also relieve the burden of lifting heavy objects or standing for long periods.
3. The Internet of Things (IoT) to Remotely Monitor Facilities
The IoT is another technology poised for widespread adoption. Managing a manufacturing warehouse, for example, can be challenging for a small team of employees.
IoT sensors make it easier to monitor facility conditions, such as humidity, temperature, and indoor air quality (IAQ), without hiring more employees to do these tasks themselves. Facilities management becomes simplified and more achievable for a fewer number of employees using the IoT.
4. Digital Twins to Teach Workers New Skills
A digital twin is a virtual model designed to accurately reflect a physical object. It’s expected that digital twin technology will become essential in industries like construction, architecture, engineering, and manufacturing. A digital twin can be a quick and inexpensive training tool to improve the skills of less-experienced workers.
A digital twin captures the experience of seasoned workers through historical data and makes recommendations based on that information to new workers. When new workers feel confident in their skills, they can also use the digital twin to practice or test their skills, causing no damage to other workers or physical operations. This can help businesses prioritize training when short-staffed.
5. Hiring Apps to Improve the Recruitment Process
Another way businesses can fight worker shortages is to invest in mobile hiring apps. These advanced apps store candidate information, help onboard new employees more efficiently and even allow existing employees to share referrals to job-seekers.
Businesses benefit from these hiring apps because all recruitment and hiring process data is stored in a centralized database rather than spread across multiple sources, such as spreadsheets or online job boards. But the EEOC warns employers using software, algorithms, and artificial intelligence to assess job applicants that they can’t discriminate against people with disabilities; this would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employers must make a reasonable accommodation necessary for a job applicant to be rated fairly.
Overcoming Labor Shortages with New Technologies
While implementing new tech will not solve the issue of widespread labor shortages, it’s a good step in the right direction for businesses grappling with a low number of employees. A company will not run smoothly without a team of employees working in the background. Consider adopting new tech to alleviate some of the pressure associated with ongoing labor shortages.