Number of vacancies increasing
As the economy is improving, the number of vacancies in many countries is increasing. In the graph above an overview of the job openings in Europe from 2013 to 2021. In the papers you can find articles with titles like: “More job openings than candidates” and “growth can stagnate because of lack of people”.
In my view there is no reason for organisations to become desperate. Most of the time there are ample opportunities to increase the capacity without hiring a lot of additional people.
Some suggestions, in no particular order.
1. Measure productivity
Measure the productivity of people and teams. see what you can learn from the high performing people and teams. Give extra rewards high performers. Rearrange the work in such a way that the best teams get the most difficult jobs.
2. Redesign the process
Have a critical look at your work processes. What can be done to make the the work easier? Which elements can be deleted?
3. Ask people to work more hours
In some countries (like The Netherlands) many people work part-time. Ask people to work some more hours (temporarily). A couple of hours per employee might help a lot.
4. Ask your people for their suggestions
Ask your people for their suggestions about how to increase the capacity. They know the work and surely they will have great ideas.
5. Assign people to roles and tasks they can do best
As part of their work many people have tasks they don’t like, and often they are not so good at these tasks as well. If you try to assign people to the roles and tasks they can do best (and often like most) their output will increase and you need less people to do the work.
6. More flexibility in working hours
If the work is not so time sensitive, you can consider changing the work times. Make the work day longer, and allow people to work at the time that suits them best and at the hours that they are most productive. Young adults, for example, generally work better later in the day than in the early morning.
7. Remove layers (and use the capacity)
Most organisations can still remove one or more management layers. Don’t fire the managers, but ask them to do some work where they can add more value.
8. Move people from staff to operations
Staff groups are often too big anyway. Move people from staff to operations. Probably they will thank you later as the work in many staff groups can be boring.
9. Remove some blockers
Removing some people who are spoiling the atmosphere and who are blocking the progress of others, can help to increase engagement of the remaining crew. Don’t hang on to people too long, even if you have vacancies.
10. Be kind!
Continue to be kind to your people (and your customers, your suppliers and others in the value chain). Increased workload and stress unfortunately often come with less kindness and that’s a pity. Kindness is free and will (hypothesis) lead to increased productivity.
11. Increase wages
Always a possibility, easy to replicate though.
12. Stop recruiting for jobs, start recruiting for skills
The current mainstream trend to look more at the required skills than job profiles, and redesign the HR practices with skills as the main currency, is very promising. The hope is that this will lead to more diverse (and unbiased) recruiting.
There are many more, like technology that can help to improve the way the work is done. The 12 suggestions above are simple and don’t require big investments.
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