Employers across a wide range of industries have been challenged in securing labor for many years. The global COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened this challenge. However, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting that the U.S. workforce will shrink in the decade
ahead, employers must take steps to evolve in the face of today’s workforce changes.
Below we’ll explain the factors driving today’s workforce changes and how automated solutions will play a key role in helping companies meet client and employee demands.
What is Driving Today's Workforce?
Given that many industries have seen intensifying labor shortages, it’s time to accept that employers may be facing a labor migration. This migration is the result of changing values of the workforce. Workers across many of the most constricted industries during the COVID-19 pandemic gave up on waiting for opportunities to return and instead pursued other, more rewarding options. As one former career restaurant employee writes in an article for Food & Wine, being let go as a cook during the pandemic became an opportunity to evaluate whether the high stress and long hours were really worth it.
Today’s workforce is pursuing opportunities they enjoy and are making the most of their desired skill sets. There has been a 24% increase in entrepreneurship, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a historic jump that is the result of workers trying to make their own opportunities. Other workers are demanding higher pay, better benefits, and safer working conditions—and getting it.
To compete in this labor migration, employers must make significant changes in attracting, retaining, and investing in their workforce.
How Automated Solutions Can Support Today's Changing Workforce
The workforce is changing in several ways for which employers must prepare. Among these changes, today’s workforce is driven by a desire to find a sense of achievement in work. This happens in many ways, including establishing career paths that provide upward movement and investing in employees’ skill sets.
As more employers adopt automated solutions to meet demands around contactless solutions and data-driven operation, they're finding added benefits around automation through its impact on employees. Automated solutions give employers an opportunity to offer employees new skill sets around managing technology. It helps reduce many of the menial tasks that drive up worker burnout. These provide a way to train employees on new skills around managing technology while also limiting many of the menial tasks that drive up worker burnout.
These and other benefits of automation will become more readily evident in 2022 across numerous industries:
1. Cleaning Industry
There are greater demands than ever for clean, healthy spaces, yet the cleaning industry’s long-term labor shortage is only getting worse. One cleaning agency told Business Insider that even long-term employees were leaving to work at Amazon for more competitive pay and tech-heavy experience.
While commercial robot vacuums such as Whiz, from SoftBank Robotics, have been in the cleaning space for some time, it and other solutions in this space will continue to evolve, offering even more autonomous support. In the case of Whiz, this evolution is taking shape through Whiz Gambit, which expands the autonomous vacuum’s capabilities to include disinfection while expanding the insight available with new data in the Whiz Connect dashboard.
2. Restaurant Industry
As noted above, the restaurant industry is struggling to retain employees. Competitive pay is a critical differentiator, but so is talent development. Many restaurants have begun to use automation in taking orders and payments and are adapting workflows by connecting with food delivery services to reach a broader customer base.
In 2022, automated food delivery solutions will help restaurants address talent development and workflow efficiency. Waitstaff will work with the support of food tray-equipped robots designed to navigate complex environments. Today’s restaurant workforce can gain skills in technology on the job. While solutions such as Delivery Robot T5 boost workflow efficiency, staff can prioritize the human interactions that set a restaurant experience apart.
3. Port Logistics
Automation is best served up when it helps manage a simple, repetitive, and menial task. In an era where labor shortages are beginning to have a greater impact across multiple industries, there will be opportunities for automation to impact those industries struggling to keep laborers engaged with repetitive tasks. For example, port logistics, or the mile between ships and warehouses, have become a sight of congestion from various issues that have included a shortage of workers. This is an area where automated solutions could help streamline logistical challenges, freeing up employees for more critical, value-added tasks.
4. Outdoor Task Management
Automated solutions are helping the landscaping industry weather the ups-and-downs of seasonal worker fluctuation. It’s one reason that John Deere is releasing the self-driving 8R tractor in 2022. The vehicle builds upon the increasing reliance on data-driven solutions in agriculture to tackle repetitive plowing and planting with minimal human intervention, and may be setting the stage for broader use of automation in outdoor tasks.
Creating a plan for automation in 2022
Automation is not a solution for replacing human laborers. Still, it should be a key strategy in supporting the great labor migration resulting from today’s changing workforce. Companies that position their automated solutions as an investment in their workforce will find they can better attract and retain top talent. Workers must manage these technology solutions. At the same time, they work and learn to navigate and apply the data these machines can collect.
SoftBank Robotics is at the center of many automated innovations coming to the market to support employers across this range of industries. To learn more about how automated solutions can help your changing workforce, contact SoftBank today.