3 Tactics to Help Fill Core Business Needs in a Tight Labor Environment– September 08, 2021 by Jim Boland

Labor Day — the unofficial end of summer — filled with BBQs, one last swim at the community pool, and the country feeling football fever with high school players entering mid-season while college and pro players start taking the field and lighting up our television screens.

Officially, this annual celebration is a tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers. But on Labor Day 2021, nearly every American industry is facing a worker shortage that is keeping companies from fulfilling the increased demand for their goods and services. Many are rethinking their business models, unable to source the required levels of human capital, thus needing to find other ways to conduct business.

The U.S. jobs report for August 2021, released right on the doorstep of the holiday weekend, shared disappointing news, with payroll growth of 235,000 jobs versus expectations of 720,000. Even though the unemployment rate ticked lower to 5.2% in August, there is clearly a slower than expected rebound to “full employment.” Even with wages increasing 4.3% year over year, businesses are struggling to fill their open job requisitions. These numbers are supported with a short drive through any industrial manufacturing neighborhood, with business after business advertising job incentives on large, street facing signs. Whether the cause is easy access stimulus money, a post-pandemic career mindset or folks just taking advantage of the hot labor market to upgrade their paycheck, companies and their owners need a plan of attack.

Businesses’ highest priority is to fill core business functions, the manual activities that go directly into the product or service they sell. With HR teams spread thin, recruiting for dozens of open jobs, you have to focus HR and onboarding teams’ time on developing a pipeline of talent for these core roles. Think of it like sales, you always have to be filling the funnel and moving candidates through the interview process.

But no one can do it all without burning out. To make this shift, below are three tactics you can explore to free up resources to invest your time, capital and mind share into those critical core business resources:

1. Process Automation

Not reserved for just large companies anymore, robotic process automation (RPA) “takes the robot out of the human.” RPA mimics human behavior to conduct low value, back-office processes and tasks. That leaves more time for your employees to conduct higher value work. Now more than ever it’s important to understand where process automation can remove manual labor from your processes and help your team be more efficient and effective.

>> Read “Digital Automation Deployment Strategies”
>> Read “How Automation is Changing the Workplace”

2. Flexible Career Paths

Design flexible career paths to build on the hybrid work environment we just navigated for the past 18 months. Can you offer unique work schedules or higher pay rates to work by the hour, so employees can work on their schedule while still getting the work activities done within the weekly or monthly timeframe? This requires more mature resource planning tools and job planning, but some businesses have already moved completely to this configuration of work/pay.

3. Outsourcing Non-Core Business Functions

Be open to outsourcing more of your non-core business functions. Business process outsourcing (BPO) has been around for decades, with companies taking advantage of BPO partners who can deliver key customer-facing sales and service activities in lower cost regions of the world. Transferring these hiring and training efforts to someone on the outside removes the headache, most often with higher quality results. 

If you’re already outsourcing, consider expanding that reach; many of our clients are accelerating outsourcing to other key functional areas of the business, such as:

  • Purchasing,
  • Distribution,
  • Freight and
  • Cybersecurity.

Using the three tactics above will help you and your HR team fill the needs so vital to running a successful organization, focusing the recruiting process on the best and brightest that will help you advance your business. Stay tuned for updates on more finance and accounting outsourcing trends to help navigate the current labor market.

Contact Jim Boland at jboland@cohenconsulting.com or a member of your service team to discuss this topic further.


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Cohen & Company is not rendering legal, accounting or other professional advice. Information contained in this post is considered accurate as of the date of publishing. Any action taken based on information in this blog should be taken only after a detailed review of the specific facts, circumstances and current law.