In the US workforce, we continue to face an unpredictable environment with business owners that are unenthusiastic about the future business conditions, especially the workforce. According to an NFIB article published this month, 43% of owners reported job openings that were hard to fill, and this remains historically high, as there are few qualified applicants. (NFIB, 2023, October 10. Small Business Optimism Dips in September as Inflation Remains Top Problem. https://www.nfib.com/content/press-release/economy/small-business-optimism-dips-in-september-as-inflation-remains-top-problem/)
We don’t have to go very far to have a negative buying experience because of poor customer service, shortage of workers, overwhelmed managers, stressed out employees, and productivity that is suffering. The adverse experiences felt in only a few days of purchasing activities is overwhelming: poor customer service; lack of employee training; system mix up on to-go order; a requested bid response delayed by weeks because of being too busy; lack of drive and motivation; unanswered calls, texts, and emails; seeing managers overloaded from working extra-long hours to overcome the worker shortage, thus leading to excess stress and poor physical and mental health – the list goes on and on.
On the flip side, many people in the workforce are properly trained, expecting upskilling for growth, are willing to work hard, and are asking for different types of work schedules and benefit systems to suit the needs of their family and schedules.
Having a workforce that desires more out of their careers coupled with employers that are struggling to fill roles results in major workforce development concerns.
This blog is not intended to try to solve any of the numerous issues facing the current workforce but is instead intended to be thought-provoking. It includes a recommendation to start working together better to help make improvements for our future workforce.
It is my belief that we need a comprehensive and collaborative approach to these problems, bringing all main stakeholders together to the table. Who should this include?
The type of professionals and leaders that could be involved in this tremendous Think Tank Strategy type experience should be the following:
1) Business owners and nonprofits (big and small) and their DEI officers,
2) Workers from different backgrounds (e.g., generations, terminated, part-time, remote, non-traditional, etc.),
3) Human Resource professionals (especially those with learning and career development expertise, or upskilling professionals),
4) Trauma counselors and health professionals (mental, physical, emotional),
5) Government officers, elected officials, and business support agencies (e.g., US Chamber),
6) Education systems (K-12, colleges/universities, vocational, charters, etc.),
7) Researchers and experts in economics, organizational development, and automation,
8) Productivity and workplace conflict specialists,
9) Business consultants and professional coaches, and finally
10) The frontline managers and employees who are burnt out, stressed, and/or forgotten in our workforce.
In conclusion, let’s work together to take the next step to create this Think Tank Strategy experience knowing that this is only the first step. This should not be merely an exercise to check off a box. A process could be created to keep moving forward until we have real answers to improve our current and future workforce. Will you join me? Our future business environment and workforce depend on our success together.