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Humanity in Business: A Panacea for the Labor Crisis

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

The only way forward to position your company for sustained growth is to look deeply at building a humanity-focused culture, a lean and light operation, and a digital-forward strategy.

The tide has been shifting over the past 20 years in the service industry. In the early 2000s companies focused on having:

  • Authentic Brand

  • Killer Product

These were the hallmarks of brands that flourished in the marketplace. Over the last 10 years, and more specifically, the earth-shaking change of the past 24 months, the effectiveness of that model has been disrupted. It is no longer true that brand and product alone drive the success of a company.

To thrive in 2022 and beyond, we must shift our strategy to include a focus not only on brand and product, but also add:

  • Humanity-Focused Culture

  • Lean and Light Operations

  • Digital-Forward Strategy

This strategy can be applied to all aspects of your business, but is especially relevant in the current business climate with regard to staffing and hiring. Many companies in the service industry are short-staffed and struggling to keep their business open. But proactive steps can be taken to keep your business running, profitable, and even growing during this difficult time.

The service industry comprises 71% of American workers, and 16.7M people are working in hospitality-specific service roles. The job market has seen a significant increase in openings in the past year, with service industry openings more than doubling since March 2020(a). Those in the entertainment/recreation, accommodations, and food services industries have been most acutely impacted. While it is critical to ensure you are offering competitive wages and attracting talent, there are other areas on which you can focus to help your business thrive through the “great resignation”.

These focus areas will also help infuse your business with humanity, by focusing on making work better for your team and ensuring you are positioned for growth throughout this unprecedented time and beyond.

The five main areas of focus are:

Reach for Your Mind Before Your Wallet

Become an expert on your opportunity: As Charles Kettering famously said, “A problem well stated is a problem half-solved”. Truly understanding the root cause of your opportunity and using data to highlight the largest value will ensure your plan achieves the greatest benefit. Have you stopped and talked to your team? Do you know which of your team is at risk? Gather as much information as you can so your plans will enable you to address the most critical problems.

Find the Best Talent

Retain great employees: Higher pay, better growth opportunities, and stressful work environments are some of the top reasons people leave their jobs. Look for opportunities to increase overall compensation and work to reduce employee stress through improved operational efficiencies to help keep the talent you already have.

Best in Class” recruiting plans: Candidates who are referred from an internal employee will produce 25% more profit for their company than those hired without a referral.

Define transferable skills: We are seeing a significant shift in the workforce due to new patterns that have been created through the pandemic. Getting creative with your candidates, understanding what they need and how their background will support your business can help you onboard new talent from previously untapped backgrounds. Only 11%(b) of new hires were separated due to lack of job-specific skills. Soft skills, like leadership, creativity, and teamwork can come from many different professional backgrounds.

Ease the Burden

Reduce burdensome work: One of the main reasons people are leaving the service industry is that the work is harder than it needs to be and they spend too much time on tasks that don’t fulfill them. Removing cognitive burden from your employees can help them focus on the work they enjoy the most and give them time to deliver the service your customers expect.

Optimize your operations: Author James Clear says “Motion does not equal action. Busyness does not equal effectiveness”. Finding ways to automate or remove motion can reduce the need for additional resources and ensure that your existing resources have time to focus on the most important value-creating work.

Adjust Your Offerings

Focus product/service offerings: Using data, you can easily determine the “hero” offerings for your business. Utilizing data to help you define the most valuable product offerings, services and hours of operation will enable you to create focus towards delivering the most value with limited resources.

Align to customer value: Deeply understanding your customers and what they value will help you ensure you are consistently prioritizing the most valuable work to meet the customer's needs. Significant work has been added over the past year to address the pandemic; it is critical to evaluate those services based on what your customers find value in.

Enhance the Digital Experience

Focus on Improving the Employee Experience: In 2020, most businesses were forced to add digital solutions to their business plan to stay alive. Now is the time to ensure you integrate those digital customer experiences into your operations. Integrating digital transactions with your physical transactions will improve quality and reduce the cognitive burden on your team in supporting transactions.

Perhaps Eric Yuan (Founder of Zoom) said it best; “Empathy, humanity, and support for each other is more important than revenue and growth”. Focusing your organization on building a foundation of humanity (by reaching for your mind, not your wallet) to understand the problem and then addressing each opportunity will create a more joyful place to work. While humanity is more important than revenue and growth, it is a catalyst for both. The only way forward to position your company for sustained growth is to look deeply at building a humanity-focused culture, a lean and light operation, and a digital-forward strategy.

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