Can the Labor Shortage Actually Boost Productivity?


The labor shortage seems to be on everybody’s minds - record numbers of job openings are still rather perplexingly going unfilled, despite the country having high rates of unemployment. We’ve previously written about the ongoing labor shortage, detailing what may have caused it, what could be contributing to the issue, and the outlook going into the future. Despite the shortage, some have chosen to look on the brighter side of things.

While labor is undoubtedly trending downward, it appears that productivity could actually receive a significant boost as a result of the shortage. This may seem like an unlikely result of lessened labor, but the theory is that a nationwide labor shortage could actually present exciting new opportunities which will go a long way in boosting productivity throughout many industries.

How the labor shortage could actually lead to a productivity boom

There are very few sectors that won’t be affected by the labor shortage in some way, whether it’s immediately apparent or problems begin to arise down the road. Several industries, specifically hospitality, accommodation, and leisure-adjacent ones, have been changed for the foreseeable future and may not regain footing for years. Other industries are far luckier, especially those that can make the necessary adjustments needed to overcome the labor shortage with technology solutions, promotions for staff that have been shouldering the workload, training to allow more junior staff to move into senior roles, and more.

Just how can productivity gains be possible in the face of an unprecedented labor shortage? Many experts, seeing it as an opportunity rather than a crisis, have suggested that a combination of technology and strategy can overcome the shortage and lead to significant improvements for businesses around the country.

Without a wealth of labor present, businesses are going to be forced to invest in their own workforce and empower them to work smarter and more efficiently, not simply work more. Rather than relying on the same old habits, a lack of labor now means that businesses will be investing in technologies which allow workers to operate in ways to boost productivity - streamlining time-consuming processes, enabling instant collaboration and communication, and cutting out the need for context switching. With the right technology, a smaller number of dedicated employees can exceed the work that can be done by a large but inefficient workforce - all without adding significantly to their workload. 

Importance of training is now elevated

The labor shortage will  increase the importance of training. Rather than forcing new employees through ineffective compliance training, businesses will need to rethink the way they train workers to ensure that all employees are given the skills and knowledge needed to thrive. More training means that employees are never at risk of becoming redundant or replaceable, ensuring that their job is secure for the foreseeable future.

Well-trained employees are far more likely to be able to use their skills and knowledge to solve problems efficiently, leverage technology more effectively, and be prepared for a wider variety of complex situations which may arise during their tenure. Investing in training also shows employees that you’re dedicated to  them and their future with the organization, keeping them motivated, encouraged to work hard, and a reason to work productively.

In addition to investing in technology that enables employees to work more efficiently and in your workforce through training, businesses are going to need to get creative and read the room in order to thrive during the labor shortage. It’s clear that things won’t be returning to “normal” for many industries, making it extremely important to tackle the problem creatively to promote increased efficiencies and retain your workforce for the long-term.

What businesses can do to weather the storm and thrive against all odds

The labor shortage doesn’t have to be a crisis for businesses - in fact, taking chances and investing in your own people could lead to businesses reaching new highs, even without the labor traditionally needed to make organizations thrive. 

Not only should businesses be empowering employees through technology and training opportunities, but leaders should start going directly to their employees for suggestions on what they can do now to avoid future labor problems. This opens up exciting new opportunities that will engage workers, ensure that motivation and morale are kept high, and save organizations from a potentially catastrophic loss of labor.

Getting creative can help your business to weather the storm and actually thrive throughout it, retaining talent and empowering them to be more productive than ever before. These solutions can be as simple as increasing salaries to drive  motivation and productivity, transitioning members of your workforce to working from home on a full-time basis or offering them a flexible work schedule, retraining them to take on new responsibilities or entirely new roles within your company, or drastically cutting down on the amount of meetings your company holds so your workers can operate in a distraction-free environment.

Solutions can also be more complex, including finding a way to operate productively on a four-day work week, which could result in a dramatic improvement in work-life balance. No matter which options businesses decide to explore, it’s clear that leaders need to understand their team members  and appeal to their workforce in order to future-proof the organization, ensuring that they can continue to operate productively throughout what could be a rough time for businesses unwilling (or unable) to adapt.

If you’re unsure where to begin with improving productivity during the labor shortage, Prodoscore can help you find the answer. Prodoscore is a productivity intelligence tool that offers increased visibility into how your workforce operates, showing you when employees are most productive, which apps and tools they spend their days working within, what factors influence their output and quality of work, and so much more so you can easily identify what works, what doesn’t, and better understand what drives your workforce.

With the contextualized productivity data offered by Prodoscore, your business can focus on  eliminating the unknowns and identify what’s going to work to improve productivity and overcome the challenges of the labor shortage. To find out more about how Prodoscore can improve your business, get in touch with us today.