For the past three years, manufacturers have faced a persistent labor shortage, in spite of recently surpassing the pre-pandemic peak in the number of manufacturing jobs. The problem extends beyond the manufacturing industry. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there were over 10 million job openings in October 2022, with roughly six million unemployed workers available to fill those positions.
Although each sector experiences the labor shortage differently, they can all depend on technology to better understand their labor needs, boost efficiency, and hire the right workers. And while manufacturing and other industries struggle to fill key roles, some sectors see the potential of a recession as an opportunity to adjust their staffing levels to meet potential economic downturn.
A Look At The Current Labor Shortage Crisis In The Manufacturing Industry
Manufacturing ranked among the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic. From February to April 2020, the manufacturing industry faced an 11% drop in employment. In spite of being deemed a critical sector by the government, by the end of 2020, manufacturing had lost 578,000 jobs.
More than two years later, manufacturing continues to feel the sting of a labor shortage crisis. In a recent survey from the National Association of Manufacturers, companies rank attracting and retaining a quality workforce as a top problem.
Today, U.S. manufacturing will has over two million unfilled jobs. Manufacturers who fail to make changes now will face an even worse situation in the future.
How Manufacturers Can Utilize Technology To Best Manage Staffing Levels
Technology can help manufacturers navigate the labor shortage and strengthen their workforce, even in an economic downturn. With the right tools, manufacturers can identify the best hires, improve their onboarding process, and upskill their existing workforce.
In addition to hiring and retention, manufacturers facing a labor shortage also need to prioritize efficiency. Implementing technology to automate processes, remotely monitor facilities, and deploy resources effectively will all ease the labor crunch and improve performance in a downturn.
1. Integrating Advanced Analytics To Improve Decision-Making Capabilities
Big data can play a big role in addressing labor shortages. Advanced analytics gives organizations the information they need to predict demand and adjust staffing levels accordingly to address skills gaps in their workforce.
Analytics and advanced visualizations can also provide in-depth insights into your organization and help the organization to make better decisions more efficiently. You’ll get a complete picture of your workforce and your organization’s forecasted and real-time labor needs. That means better decision-making capabilities and a more efficient use of constrained resources.
2. Streamlining The Employee Onboarding Process With Virtual Tools
Turnover slows down business, but streamlining the employee onboarding process can get new hires up to speed quickly. Digital documentation and tools like training videos, visual process workflow charts, and interactive materials can all improve your onboarding and training process can streamline your onboarding process.
Technology can also monitor the progress of new employees as they gain skills and will help you identify employees ready to take on new projects and responsibilities. This skill management capability will be critical as manufacturers advance toward and adopt Manufacturing 4.0. A smoother onboarding process can even improve retention rates. Employees who feel confident in their training and the organization’s processes are more likely to stick around.
3. Remotely Monitoring Facility Conditions With IoT
One way to handle a labor related issues is to work more efficiently, and technology can help eliminate redundant positions.
For example, the Internet of Things (IoT) lets you remotely monitor facilities using connected devices. Instead of hiring field staff to inspect warehouses or manufacturing plants, technology can be used to control the temperature, monitor air quality, and conduct system maintenance.
4. Implementing Digital Twins To Improve Employee Capabilities And Decision-Making
Need to upskill your employees? Consider digital twin software. A digital twin creates a virtual model of physical objects or systems. You can use the virtual model to train employees in key skills before they go into the field and face real-life scenarios and tasks. A digital twin will also improve the quality and speed of decision-making since the software doesn’t sleep, it continues to analyze operations and identify risks and opportunities while the humans are not working.
5. Creating Efficient Process And Task Automations
Conducting a complete process analysis helps manufacturers address labor shortages. By analyzing your processes, you can identify areas for improvements and automate processes to streamline your workforce.
Consider the ways task automation can help with inventory management and manual tasks. For example, robotic process automation (RPA) can be implemented to end repetitive tasks and modernize your workflow.
6. Improving Recruiting Initiatives With Staffing Applications
Many manufacturers struggle with recruiting. Fortunately, you can rely on staffing apps to boost your recruiting power and find the best employees for your organization.
Staffing apps can help fill temporary and long-term positions. Mobile recruiting software will identify top candidates, smooth the application process, and get the right names into the hands of hiring managers. Technology can also help with the interview, hiring, and onboarding process.
Reach Out To Hartman To Learn More About The Benefits Of Manufacturing Technologies
Hartman Executive Advisors helps manufacturers use technology more strategically to address their business challenges. Want to know more about leveraging technology to help your business address the labor shortage? Contact Hartman today to get started.