September 22, 2022


How Manufacturers Can Deal with the Labor Shortage

How Manufacturers Can Deal with the Labor Shortage

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 315,000 in August 2022. That’s a good thing, but this increased demand has caused a labor shortage. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce cites four reasons for the labor shortage in the current U.S. economy:

  • Increase in savings
  • Early retirements
  • Lack of access to childcare
  • Preference for entrepreneurship

The pandemic may have triggered the great resignation, but the factors leading to this low labor force participation rate have been brewing for about a decade. 

Although the government is working to alleviate labor supply challenges, it may be a while before we see the worker shortage return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Just look at the number of job openings on LinkedIn, from non-profits to private companies, open to those with high school diplomas as well as advanced degrees. The number of unfilled jobs from food service to industrial maintenance is still rising.

“Record job openings and quit rates highlight employees’ growing emphasis on feeling valued by their organization, supportive management, and flexibility and autonomy at work.”


In the meantime, you may struggle to find and retain maintenance technicians and managers. While the labor force shortage is a complex challenge, here we list strategies to reduce the impact of a tight labor market.

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5 Strategies to Deal with Labor Shortages

You can adapt the following strategies and modify them to suit your situation as you work to tackle the labor shortage in your industry.

1. Use a CMMS

CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) is a software solution that streamlines and automates maintenance processes. Deploying a CMMS can eliminate the need for your existing technicians to spend time on reactive maintenance tasks and empower them to complete other tasks more efficiently.

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MaintainX Work Order Software

It’s easier to create work orders, assign procedural maintenance, and communicate with technicians using a CMMS rather than a spreadsheet. In addition, you won’t need to put a technician in charge of monitoring maintenance schedules because the CMMS allows you to schedule and assign preventive maintenance in advance. You also can monitor the maintenance tasks through real-time data and procedure scoring.

2. Invest in Training

Training is an ongoing need. Young professionals without opportunities to grow within a company often search for new jobs elsewhere that offer better growth prospects.

If you’re looking for new talent, investing in retaining talent is critical. Maintenance professionals want to upskill because they see automation as a threat to their employment. Upskilling will help them feel secure in their jobs. 

Employee retention isn’t the only benefit to training your staff, though. Training also allows your staff to sharpen their maintenance skillset. Moreover, you can train them with more advanced techniques like predictive maintenance, using CMMS and other tools to help them earn maintenance certifications.

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3. Offer a Referral Bonus

A referral program rewards employees who refer qualified people to a job opening at your company. 

Economists find that employers are 4x more likely to offer a job to referrals compared to website applicants. This means you’ll hire faster and spend less per hire. Also, referred employees are more likely to stay longer with the company compared to employees hired from job boards.

When asking for referrals, specify the requirements for all open jobs, even to employees working in the same department you’re hiring for. Identify rewards to incentivize employees to refer and mix monetary and non-monetary rewards.

4. Provide Clarity on Career Progression

Your employees want to grow in terms of seniority and pay over time. Clarifying their growth trajectory helps them feel confident about their growth within your company. In addition, you’ll retain top talent by promoting them to senior roles and rewarding their performance for work well done. 

Career progression may not be about promotions. Employees may value job security more than a promotion if layoffs are frequent. They may want to want to move from part-time to full-time employees, acquire new skills, and/or work on complex tasks. Ask employees what they consider career growth.

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5. Provide a Supportive and Safe Work Environment

Work environments are important for both—bringing in employees and retaining them. A supportive and safe factory is critical to providing employees, even entry-level employees, with fulfilling work experiences regardless of the industry. In addition, employees need to feel engaged and passionate about their work—but in 2021, only 33% of American and Canadian employees felt engaged in their work.

Monetary compensation is an essential part of the equation for your employees, but it also acts as a powerful lever to drive employee productivity. For example, you can offer employees a per-piece incentive rather than a fixed amount for excellent performance. It’s a win-win because you’ll keep employees motivated to achieve rather than aiming for a single production threshold.

However, money is not the only element in the equation. In addition to wage growth, employees want to work with managers they admire and to work on challenging tasks. 

You also need to provide a safe environment, keep the workload reasonable to ensure good mental health, and provide benefits like healthcare in line with what your industry competitors offer.

Rely on MaintainX to Tackle Labor Shortage

Labor shortages are one of the most pressing maintenance challenges. The job market may not change significantly in the near future, but you can use the strategies in this guide to address your staffing woes.

Improving efficiency is one of the best ways to combat labor shortage. A CMMS like MaintainX helps streamline your maintenance processes and provides valuable insights by creating real-time visual reports using your maintenance data. 

If you’re dealing with labor shortages, try MaintainX—it’s free.

Labor Shortage
Caroline Eisner
Caroline Eisner
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