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Employee shortage – it not going away

I am lucky to be working with a wide variety of businesses – start-ups and mature, high and low tech, manufacturing and services.

While many have suffered through COVID, those that are labour intensive continue to. Although demand is back to (and sometimes higher than) pre-COVID levels they struggle to grow because finding staff is harder than it ever was.

A lot has been written about The Great Resignation, the effects of Brexit, and the long-term health issues that put pressure on the employment market. This is a double-edged sword – businesses not only find it hard to recruit, but the lack of employees drives salaries higher, pushing inflation to levels not seen for decades.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote here about the risks of double-digit inflation only for the Bank of England to forecast it not long after my post. This does not make me a sage – the writing was on the wall.

Similarly, the lack of employees is there for everyone to see, and it is not going away anytime soon.

The sociological elements that drove people to leave the job market are here to stay. People who realised that being employed is for them shackles they don’t fancy wearing are not going to turn back. The UK is definitely not going to re-join the EU – if anything the current Northern Ireland issues are driving the government in the opposite direction. And as for long-term COVID effects – who knows how long is long term?

The bottom line is that the reality has changed and if labour-intensive businesses don’t change with it there is going to be a price to pay. Literally.

There is no single answer to the question of what and how to change but it is definitely a time for every organisation to review its business model, increase automation, and focus on efficiency. I am yet to see a business that can’t do better with the resources it has.

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