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Has it been difficult to find or keep qualified workers lately? If you’re like most of the professionals I talk to, it’s next to impossible. Even though we weren’t grappling with a global health crisis, it seems there are never enough people available to do the job. Now that you need twice as many people to keep up with the workload, all you worry about is doing it with half the workforce you had before, right? ?
Working with small businesses over the years, I have seen this challenge have a real impact on their operational efficiency and, consequently, on their financial position. In many cases, production decreases or error rates increase. Sometimes both happen at the same time. Either way, unhappy customers raise their hands to demand compensation, often in the form of refunds, credits, or replacement items, which add up and impact the bottom line. For example, here’s a disturbing statistic I read the other day: Over 40 percent of small businesses pay significantly more for workers’ wages because of labor shortages.
Employees are expected to do more on the job every day given the higher demand for goods and services and the somewhat rambling execution model that small businesses – and indeed all businesses – are working with today. A transformed labor market is emerging as the country struggles to recover from a public health crisis. Businesses are essentially in a bidding war for the limited number of workers available to start tomorrow. I understand. But I’m not convinced that money is the only way to earn skilled and talented workers – or to keep them.
Technology can be more powerful than money
People don’t want to work more than necessary, especially when they know that there are digital tools that can make their jobs easier. So I believe that technology has the potential to be as powerful as money, if not more. My friends, family, and professional network aren’t afraid to tell me when they’re happy at work and when they’re not. They are also not afraid to do something about it. We have entered the âera of change,â as a colleague described it the other day, and many people will now choose less stress over more money.
If one of your employees tells a friend that they’ve spent all day manually counting inventory only to find they’ve missed something, and the friend says, “You should come work with me. I am using a device to analyze the inventory. I do it so fast and I never counted badlyâ¦ â What do you think will happen? They’ll likely apply to that other company and give you notice shortly after.
As a business owner, you have to make a choice. Now you can invest in technologies that will make it easier and faster for your team to complete each task so that they can ultimately get more done. Or you can settle for the tools and processes you currently have and reduce productivity and production. Just be aware that you may have to pay more to attract and keep workers, and you could face more turnover as other companies raise the bar with technology and other perks. If you are considering investing in technology to help improve the worker experience, I think you are making the right choice. Technology helps integrate, retain and attract talent in warehousing, retail and many other industries. But don’t go shopping yet.
Yes, upgrading your hardware and software could yield great results for your business. However, there is much more to this decision than it seems. I know you can be stressed out about manpower issues and want solutions ASAP, but I promise you will make a much smarter, more informed decision if you take a break and follow these three. steps before going any further.
Related: There is a skilled workforce Shortage. Can we fix it?
Understand your current workforce needs
When looking for technology to meet the unique needs of your business, it’s important to keep the happiness of your employees at the forefront. This is what genuinely attracts new talent to your business and keeps people staying. In many cases, happiness stems from productivity. If workers know what to do but just don’t have the tools to do it quickly, they will get discouraged and customers will complain because they haven’t had a good experience.
So, stop and assess why they meet each challenge as they go through the tasks. Think about what you would really like to be better or easier for yourself, your employees, and everyone else involved. Then think about how technology can solve each problem.
If you equip an employee on day one with a mobile device that helps them take a full inventory comfortably and without making a single mistake, they’ll leave work feeling empowered. They will share their positive experience with their friends, family, and (if you’re lucky) on social media. Word will spread about the quality of work for your business. And suddenly you have a loyal employee and potential brand advocate along with several enthusiastic and talented candidates responding to your vacancies. You or your staff won’t need a computer engineering degree to achieve this business feat – just a modern mobile computer.
Related: 5 tips for attracting the best candidates to today’s job market
Try to understand your future business needs
Growing your business starts with figuring out what you really need to make your operations run more smoothly. If the front-line technology currently associated with back-end systems isn’t making inventory counting easier, improving connectivity between employees, or giving them time to help customers, you probably haven’t found your tech soul mate yet.
There are new business challenges associated with the on-demand economy, from shortages of delivery drivers disrupting the expected flow of the supply chain to unpredictable changes in consumer demand. These are realities your business should be able to tackle. Even situations that seem small can end up causing you a lot of grief if you are not well prepared or supported. If orders double overnight or half the team gets sick, who on your team can take more? And what will they need to do it all without falling behind and without making mistakes? While you can’t predict all tricky dilemmas, you can predict your technological capabilities.
Related: 10 tech trends shaping the future of small businesses
Look at your business from the perspective of your customers
Employees aren’t the only ones who feel pain when things don’t go well. Customers are suffering too. If you are a cafe owner and you don’t have your most popular blends and have no way to alert customers before they come in, you will be dealing with a lot of frustrated people. The same goes for retailers and warehouse operators. Online ordering is convenient until things don’t happen on time.
So, think about technological tools that can help you anticipate and avoid issues that you think will bother your customers and, by nature, your employees. Give your team a way to immediately alert customers when you think you can’t get them what they want – or when they want it. And think about what technology your team will need to deliver and execute alternative solutions on-site. Will they need to load credit to the customer’s digital loyalty card or re-route a manufacturer order to ship directly to the customer rather than through your fulfillment center?
Looking forward to coming to work
Even if the US unemployment rate is picking up, there are still plenty of good candidates looking for companies to convince them. Find out how you can be the employer who helps staff pay the bills and really enjoy coming to work. And think about how you can be that business that customers love to hang out with.
Once you understand what your employees and customers need and want, go shopping. Sit down with a technology solutions provider to discuss what it will take to be that business that everyone will be attracted to. Together, you’ll be able to create the right solution – by pairing the right laptop with the right software – to make work easier for workers and help them perform at their best, even in tough times when the pressure is on. intense. In turn, your team will be able to improve the lives of customers a little bit every day.