Staffing shortages are not going away. Therefore, we must find opportunities to gain increased productivity from our existing workforce and alternatives for completing the work we need done. When you expand your potential for getting the job done, you are more likely to find the resources you need. Focusing on the needs of our customer-facing team members, making smart use of outside resources, and maximizing technology use are viable options to address the labor issue.
Prioritize Those Who Interact With Clients
The foundation of business success is based upon your revenue and the stability of your revenue streams. Client loyalty and retention depend on their satisfaction. Prospects rely on their ability to access the information they need to make informed decisions and gain a comfort level with their options. Organizations with a history of sales success often rely on operational delivery to keep them going when they are short staffed. Yet it is your customer-facing staff who are the most valuable to sustaining enterprise revenue.
Identify those staff members who interact with your clients along the entire range of their customer journey. Their success in meeting needs, satisfaction and prospect demands determine if you can satisfy and keep them. If they have the bandwidth to provide exceptional service, then they can keep your clients and expand your prospect pool.
Today’s clients are looking for faster information. Many prefer to get information via video or audio. Adjust to how they want to consume information. Streamline your team’s workload by creating tools and resources to quickly get them the answers they want and need. Ensure they have the tools and resources they need to be more efficient. Clarify what can help them deliver a better customer experience, and remove the roadblocks to their success.
Outsource When Necessary
The gig economy is here to stay. Leveraging external relationships with outsourced resources can help you flex your staffing and is a valuable way to get the work done. While not as optimal as building your own team, the pressure relief you experience when critical work is being completed can give you the breathing room needed to determine if this role really needs a full-time hire or if it can be permanently outsourced.
For small projects, online resources like Fiverr and Upwork provide you with worldwide access to Gig Workers with specific skills that are needed for short-duration work. Most of these online sites have filters allowing you to clarify what your service need is, information on the potential cost, control over where your talent comes from, and even what languages they speak.
Staffing agencies can bring in talent to your organization for a project that is going to take a bit longer. While it will be more expensive, keep in mind, you are not paying any benefits and you will not get hit with an unemployment claim when you no longer need them. Agencies vet the staff who work with you and will help you find the right talent you need and can rely on.
Trusted outside vendors provide key services for you and do bookkeeping, administrative work, sales support, social media, website management, etc. Long-term vendors have deep insights about your history, your team, and your culture. They know your preferred communication methods and how you like to work. Outside vendors are an exceptionally valuable safety valve when you cannot find the right permanent talent.
Do not try to manage too many different outside resources. Focus on the most critical work they can provide for you and engage in short-duration tests to see if you have chemistry and if they provide you with value.
Technology and automation use is exploding as companies are seeking opportunities to invest in devices and software to provide options to leverage the staff they already have and enhance their productivity. Autonomous devices include robots, drones, vehicles, floor cleaners, and more. These devices sense the environment around them and operate without human involvement. Other devices such as exoskeletons are able to support a worker’s body and provide augmented biological capabilities such as safely lifting heavy objects.
While robotics as a field is advancing, they are not truly autonomous of human interaction. They still need people involved in the process to use them. This includes programming, monitoring them and charging batteries as they perform their service. At best this is now “co-botics” and people will never be fully eliminated from the equation and they will work in tandem. As these options expand, you can take advantage of them too, even if you are a small business.
There is growing interest in how data and analytics are used to manage staff productivity and service delivery. Most technology devices are already collecting data. When combined in the future with artificial intelligence, the possibilities for data analytics appear to be endless. When the data is combined with AI interpretation, this provides valuable insight to help streamline your processes and maximize staff and job site efficiency.
Evaluate how you are using the software and technology currently deployed in your business to see how you can maximize their value. The return on the investment (ROI) should be very carefully evaluated to identify any efficiencies achieved or productivity enhancements. Get your team any needed training so they can effectively work with advanced technologies. You might need a different skillset in your workforce to work with the technology and this may expand your workforce to pull from a broader pool of potential talent.
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