What companies are asking us as labor scarcity continues

Shiftwork Solutions is still seeing a trend that started in 2020, that labor, not capital, has become the productivity bottleneck.  This will continue into the foreseeable future since labor shortages are here to stay. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 10 million unfilled jobs in the United States.  

In other words, the people you are seeking to help you operate your business are in short supply. Although, a US Chamber of Commerce study points out, not all industries are equally impacted. Some have a shortage of labor, while others have a surplus of workers. “For example, durable goods manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, and education and health services have a labor shortage—these industries have more unfilled job openings than unemployed workers with experience in their respective industries. Even if every unemployed person with experience in the durable goods manufacturing industry were employed, the industry would fill 44% of the vacant jobs.”

Labor scarcity has transformed the way companies are thinking about their operations. An increased number of companies – including highly automated ones – have come to us, with the goal not to necessarily change their schedule, but to evaluate their entire shiftwork operation from the employees’ perspective. These leaders know that understanding output requirements and their implication on the shift schedule is only one part of the story. Equally important is finding what their employees’ needs are and implementing solutions to attract and retain workers to their operations. 

We have completed several projects over the past couple of years where the company said, “We already have a schedule that provides the coverage we need.  We want to make sure it is the right schedule for the workforce.” Companies have been eager to find out:

  • Is the current schedule in the way?
  • What schedule characteristics do their employees prefer?
  • What shift length, rotation, or schedule pattern do they like?
  • Is overtime a problem? How many depend on it?   How much is wanted? How much is disruptive?
  • What about start times?
  • Are we training enough?
  • Are there sleep and alertness issues?
  • Does communication need to be addressed?
  • Is commuting something to be looked at?
  • Do employees feel like they are valued and are part of the company? What influences that?
  • How do employees view the company?
  • Is there a difference between newly employed workers versus old-timers, young versus older employees? What factors are influencing their views?
  • What’s the local competition for labor up to?

So, how do you find answers to the above questions? And how do you know if the answers are specific to your company and its policies or just to the nature of a shift-work operation? How does your company compare to other companies?

At Shiftwork Solutions LLC, we have decades of experience that help us to answer these questions.  It all comes down to employee engagement.  If you want to know what the workforce thinks about any work-life balance issue, ask them. Our comprehensive Shiftwork Work-Life Balance Survey finds the answers to these questions and more.

To do this, we come on-site and administer a survey specifically designed to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your operations from the perspective of your shift workers.  We compare the responses of your employees to our large normative database we collected through the years and across industries. The survey helps us separate those issues that exist because of the inherent difficulties of shiftwork (working nights and weekends) and those issues that exist as the result of having the wrong staffing, policies, or schedule at the company. It shows how a company is doing compared to its peers in those areas.

Companies find the results from the survey both predictable and surprising.  There are always some issues that are already suspected and the survey merely confirms and quantifies these.  However, there are new aspects to be found that substantiate employee preferences and can help steer the company to take to take the right steps.

The survey results provide you with actionable items that address the issues you know for a fact, are important to your workforce. It will provide the key to implementing the next important step in attracting and retaining employees in your company.

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We have been helping companies retain and attract quality employees across all industries for more than 30 years.