For the past two years, inventory shortages have been the talk of the town. But the repercussions of empty shelves don’t compare to those of empty payrolls. Even the best-stocked companies will be hard-pressed to retain loyal customers and drive revenue if they don’t have people available to market, sell, or deliver goods. And it’s impossible to offer services without staff to provide them. CEOs of the world’s largest and smallest companies are realizing that nothing else matters if you don’t have the right people – or enough people – clocking in every day.
That’s why the latest jobs reports are garnering serious conversations about where we go from here to help people who want to work find jobs and find people who want to work.
At the end of April, there were 11.4 million job openings in the U.S. That might seem like a lot until you realize that it amounts to nearly two open positions for every unemployed person. There simply aren’t enough people to do all the work that must be done, at least not in this country. The hiring challenge isn’t contained to any one job category, either. In a recent survey, 74% of C-suite respondents said they’re having a hard time recruiting people for executive leadership roles. Eighty-two percent said finding candidates for middle management positions is a challenge, while 89% said back-office jobs are hard to fill, period. While some of these stats may be a bit surprising, there was one stat that wasn’t: 93% of C-level executives say they are struggling to find enough front-line workers.
This is a global problem that predates the pandemic and will likely postdate it, too, if we don’t do something differently. It’s also a problem shared by the largest and smallest businesses in the world.
Technology is Becoming the Great Equalizer
If you’re the owner or manager of a small or medium-sized business, you may feel a bit disadvantaged right now when it comes to attracting and retaining workers. But a growing number of studies are starting to paint a different picture.
For example, in a double-blind Global Warehousing Vision Study commissioned by Zebra in early 2022, less than half (45%) of all warehouse associates who responded said their employers have increased wages or offered bonuses amid labor constraints. Yet, 82% of all associates are experiencing positive workplace improvements, such as better working conditions. This sentiment wasn’t exclusively shared by associates working in larger warehouses, either.
Over six in 10 (61%) associates working in SMB warehouses said their employers were using technology to make their work easier, and 64% of associates working in larger warehouses (64%) agreed. All associates agreed that it helped their employers were also providing them with more technology to use each day on the front lines (in addition to the tech software and systems deployed in the back office) and that employers have started offering more flexible work shifts.
What I found eye-opening is that only 44% of SMB respondents and 52% of large warehouse associates said their employers had increased their wages or bonuses and perks throughout this period. Yet, 82% of SMB associates and 91% of large warehouse associates reported positive changes.
Clearly, money isn’t going to solve everything – at least not for front-line workers. While they’ll gladly accept a raise or bonus, their daily experiences carry just as much weight in their decisions on who to work for. That’s good news for SMBs.
In more good news, 70% of retail associates who participated in Zebra’s latest Global Shopper Study admitted they view their employers more positively when they are provided with technology. Even more warehouse associates share this feeling, with 82% of respondents in the Warehousing Vision Study claiming they are more likely to work for an employer that gives them modern devices to use for tasks versus an employer that provides older or no devices.
That means the smallest and largest businesses are on more of a level playing field than we may have previously realized. Front-line workers aren’t automatically flocking to larger companies, and larger companies don’t have a lock on talent recruitment. Sure, they may be able to offer higher wages or commit more resources to strengthen benefits programs. But SMBs and large companies have the same opportunities to give front-line workers what they want, which is technology tools that support faster, more streamlined onboarding, and career advancement along with less stressful – and more meaningful – jobs.
Increase your advantage in the labor wars by using your current tools to show potential employees how you can help them meet their personal and professional goals. If you have technology in place today, talk about how that will contribute to their first-day success, even if this is their first job. Give them the confidence that your small (or large) company is the perfect place for them to grow a career by explaining how you fully support them, even when you aren’t physically there onsite with them.
Curious how technology is helping other companies like yours recruit, train and retain talent? Click here.