The “supply chain crisis” hijacked mainstream news last year, as dozens of container ships queued for weeks outside the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.
But another important point made fewer headlines: Not only was the U.S. facing a supply chain crisis, but a human crisis, too. Workers stuck on ships have reported declining mental and physical health with fatigue and little access to land. The system’s failure to meet workers’ needs, protect employees and prioritize employee-centric working conditions across multiple supply chain touch points is the next crisis to tackle on the path to real recovery.
In the Great Resignation, most issues are a two-way street. The economic problems we’re seeing from a lack of staff are caused by unsustainable working conditions. The lack of staff then makes those conditions worse. Luckily, both problems can be solved with the same set of targeted solutions.
Offsetting the (Necessary) Rise in Compensation
One demand that’s come from the resignation movement is clear: An adjustment to base wages, hourly rates and salary offerings needs to be made. For even the best-intentioned employers, still-recovering budgets can present a barrier to meeting those demands. But there are ways to supplement smaller wage increases that can be to everyone’s benefit.
Next-gen technologies have made it easier to streamline different business operations. Employee-centric solutions — e.g. AI-powered safety monitoring and virtual onboarding — are saving employers money. Solutions for streamlined client communications, data management and other labor-intensive tasks have freed up revenue to put toward employee salaries. Optimizing the company’s resource spend on technology, and then distributing the returns among the workers, is a great way to answer the need for competitive wages.
The lack of workforce participation has been sending a clear message: This is not the way we will continue to work and live. Employers understand that now, and they’re back to the drawing board doing what they can to make the right kind of change. Beyond higher pay, extending more employee autonomy seems to be one of the most important adjustments an employer can make. Autonomy gives people the tools they need to balance their personal lives, educational goals and other out-of-work priorities. Autonomy can look like a remote work option, a self-led schedule or simply asking for more feedback from team members as the new normal continues to be established.
It can also look like more frequent, post-shift payments. By partnering with third-parties, or by working with flexible hiring companies who can help to hire shift workers through an app platform, employers can improve the experience of hourly workers simply by speeding up the time it takes to get paid after a shift. Frequent payments allow workers to experience the trust relationship that exists between a worker and their company sooner. The speed also helps professionals who are recovering from COVID-19 hardship make empowered decisions in their financial lives, without having to wait weeks for a pay stub.
Workers who are able to schedule their own shifts and receive their wages quickly are more likely to show up for those shifts and continue in their roles. The costs associated with no-shows and frequent employee turnover are much higher than what it might cost employers to invest in simple strategies like digital scheduling. When workers are forced to choose between their own work-life balance, the health of their families, their concurrent degree programs or other priorities, they’re less likely to stay with the company that’s forcing them to make that choice. But self-led scheduling allows those worlds to co-exist; employee satisfaction and loyalty is the consistent result.
Finally, internal marketing and messaging improves the conversation that’s taking place within any organization. Acknowledging the moment we’re in, and asking feedback from employees to understand how the company can move in the direction they’re pointing to, is the best way to ensure that no time is wasted on the journey to re-engage the workforce.
Companies can begin with a shared vision for a better workplace future. They can engage team members in creating that vision and work together to establish concrete steps to get there. Frequent internal communications should monitor the efforts, progress and results of the plan they have in place. Communication brings the team together, and strong teams pointed in the right direction can tackle anything that comes their way.
Steve Anevski is co-founder and CEO of Upshift.
Read more of SupplyChainBrain's 2022 Supply Chain ESG Guide here.
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