A Light in the Dark: Help for a Difficult Hiring Landscape

4 minutes

Everywhere you turn, it appears that workers are walking off the job. CNN reports, “From Hollywood writers to nurses, factory workers, and Starbucks baristas, thousands of workers have gone on strike in recent months to demand higher pay and improved benefits and working conditions.”

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “The COVID-19 pandemic caused a major disruption in America’s labor force. [Then] in 2022, more than 50 million workers quit their jobs, many of whom were in search of an improved work-life balance and flexibility, increased compensation, and a strong company culture. That follows the 47.8 million who quit jobs in 2021.”

Since then, strikes have been the name of the game. After a “summer of strikes,” CNBC reports that 2023 could go down as the highest [number of workers striking] since 1986.

3 realities of what we’re workin’ with

For organizations looking to fill open maintenance and operations (M&O) positions, it can feel like you’ve encountered an insurmountable wall. As the perfect storm of a rapidly aging workforce, employee strikes, a deficit in new skilled laborers, and even misconceptions about blue-collar jobs brews, businesses must find new ways to bridge gaps and adopt new playbooks.

1. There isn’t a full bench to rely on

Long gone are the days when you could easily find a sub when it was time to pull someone from the game. Many M&O professionals are rapidly approaching retirement, and there simply aren't enough younger replacements. If new workers are found, they often need a lot of training because the job now requires more advanced skills. On top of this, labor shortages can be localized, with specific regions experiencing more significant shortages due to demographic and economic factors.

2. The perception of M&O roles isn’t accurate

There has been a longstanding societal bias toward blue-collar jobs. Many young people have been encouraged to pursue higher education rather than consider blue-collar careers, even though they can offer good pay and stable employment. In fact, across the board, blue-collar wages are surging.

3. Technology has shifted everything about these roles

Technology has brought positive and negative changes to M&O roles, and the impact varies by industry and job type or level. On the positive side, it has improved efficiency, safety, and skill development, with opportunities for remote monitoring and online education. However, it has also led to job displacement, skill gaps, job insecurity, privacy concerns, and potential depersonalization of work.

Though challenging on many fronts, now is a unique opportunity to reimagine the M&O function. Asset management solutions and other technology tools can help employers overcome labor challenges by optimizing operations, reducing downtime, improving efficiency, and using data to make more informed decisions.

Why it’s time to shift towards data

When you picture M&O roles, you think of physical tasks, which is now only partially the reality. While these jobs still have a physical component, they also require working with technology and being more efficient and proactive about maintenance. Using data, it’s possible to reimagine everything about how we accomplish things more efficiently and effectively.

A centralized asset management system can use data to help M&O teams achieve more with fewer resources. From gathering all essential data in one place and making it easier to access/reducing the time spent searching for information to predicting when equipment needs maintenance, technology enables teams to be proactive and avoid costly breakdowns.

M&O teams can optimize their resources using historical data to prioritize tasks and allocate staff more efficiently. They can also reduce downtime by aiding in preventive maintenance scheduling and addressing issues before they become big problems. Asset management systems promote data-driven decision-making, helping teams identify inefficiencies, improve processes, and cut costs. The good ones can also assist in managing inventory levels, tracking energy consumption, and simplifying compliance monitoring and reporting.

And lastly, technology can be a recruitment tool. As Forbes shared, “Younger generations were basically born with a phone in their hand, and bring with them an expectation for next-generation technology in whatever career path they choose.” Businesses need to lean into technology for not only better efficiency and cost containment but because it will help train and guide new employees and will be a more familiar environment for them to thrive in.

Brightly: Feeding two birds with one scone

At Brightly, we believe by leveraging the right tools, M&O teams can mitigate the impact of labor shortages while making their workplaces more attractive to potential employees by showcasing modern, efficient, and technology-forward practices.

With over two decades of helping businesses digitally transform their operations and harness the power of data, our complete suite of user-friendly software—including CMMS, EAM, Strategic Asset Management, and more—with award-winning support services lights the way to a bright future where we can all thrive.

Ready to learn more? Schedule a call with an expert today!