How to Maintain Productivity Despite Labor Shortages

April 20th, 2020

Labor shortages are just one of the many challenges faced by today's employers. As unemployment rates go down and economic growth continues, existing labor shortages are only exacerbated. Employers find it especially important to maintain productivity during such times.

The amount of work a growing company needs to perform doesn't fall along with the number of available workers. If anything, it increases. So how do businesses cope with labor shortages? How can they prevent a lack of qualified labor from inhibiting productivity? There isn't just one way. Rather, maintaining productivity requires adopting a number of strategies.

Time Tracking Solutions

It has been suggested by others that effective time tracking is the key to maintaining productivity during times of labor shortage. While we would not go so far, we would still say that time tracking is important. Effective time tracking solutions can help managers understand how time is being spent so that not a minute is wasted on things that are not productive.

The purpose of time tracking is to understand exactly what employees are doing and how long it is taking them to complete their tasks. Only when such data is understood can management truly begin to realize where productivity suffers. Then they can begin implementing changes intended to increase productivity.

De-emphasizing Process

We mentioned at the start of this post that there isn't one, single way to maintain productivity despite labor shortages. As such, if you are tempted to believe that time tracking is all you need, think again. You might also consider re-evaluating how your employees do things for the purposes of de-emphasizing process.

Like it or not, process often takes precedent over productivity. Furthermore, focusing too much on process often leads to inefficiency, overlap, and loss of productivity. Understand that process is less important when it interferes with the ability of employees to get their work done. Any process that is cumbersome or burdensome should be considered for refinement or abandonment.

Focus on Careers, Not Jobs

It is routine for employers to engage in ongoing recruiting efforts during labor shortages. With that in mind, it is wise to focus on careers rather than jobs. A career focus is better suited for recruiting the types of employees that are more willing to contribute 110% to the success of the company, knowing that their own careers will be advanced as a result.

Even among existing workers, it's important to focus on the career aspect. Helping employees develop their careers increases loyalty and provides incentive to be more productive. On the other hand, people who view themselves as just employees who hold jobs have less incentive to give their best effort.

Employ Flexible Scheduling

Labor shortages tend to encourage companies to clamp down on work schedules. However, being more flexible can actually improve productivity in some cases. Let's face it, there are some jobs that don't actually require employees to keep a regular schedule. They just do it because it is the norm.

Where flexibility is possible, it encourages productivity by affording employees the opportunity to take responsibility for themselves and their work. Workers with flexible schedules are less likely to feel micromanaged. They are more likely to feel empowered, which ultimately leads to increased production.

Of course, wages and benefits packages also help a great deal in terms of both recruiting and retention. The more companies are able to do to encourage people to want to work for them, the more likely productivity will be maintained. Companies might find that it is worth paying more in order to keep staffing levels as high as possible, thereby maximizing productivity.