Technology, macroeconomic forces, and other paradigm shifts are affecting human resources in frontline work environments. Below are five investigations into prominent blue-collar human resources trends.
Low worker supply and high worker demand.
A few days ago, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported a 3.2% GDP growth rate for the first quarter of 2019, significantly beating analyst expectations. A growing economy indicates that workers will remain in high demand for the foreseeable future.
However, frontline workers are also in low supply. The trucking industry, for example, faced a shortage of 60,000 drivers in 2018—a figure that will likely triple by 2026. Even as firms pay bonuses of $20,000 for drivers, they still fail to meet their labor needs. Industries such as retail, mining, construction, and logistics will likely experience similar pressure within the next ten years.
Continuous employee feedback.
From smartphones to smart fridges, innovations associated with the Internet of Things allow consumers to interact with technology at all times. Therefore, a firm should expect to constantly interact and measure its workforce—even when its employees are not deskbound.
Companies such as Patagonia that implement continuous employee feedback quickly experience higher employee retention and satisfaction. Using technology to constantly assess workers’ needs, sentiments, and pain points allows management to understand workforces and implement solutions in real time.
We discuss continuous employee feedback more in this article.
Collaboration with robots.
Most Americans assume that automation and artificial intelligence will render hourly labor obsolete. In fact, dark horse presidential candidate Andrew Yang is basing his entire campaign on addressing this issue.
However, the narrative of technological unemployment is by no means simple. According to leading supply chain consultant Lisa Harrington, trends such as one-day delivery and the Amazon Effect will increase demand for frontline workers in the near future. She foresees increased human-robot collaboration and the necessity of hiring hourly workers familiar with technology.
IBM’s chief executive recently shared that the firm uses artificial intelligence to “predict with 95 percent accuracy the employees who are likely to leave in the next six months.”
Although IBM uses the application for office workers, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence will soon begin to affect frontline workforces as well. Of course, companies need to collect robust data in order to successfully conduct data analytics. As a result, management must implement other blue-collar human resources trends such as continuous employee feedback in order to fundamentally understand its workforce.
Viral workplace reputations.
Review websites such as Yelp can be a restaurant’s best friend or worst enemy. A Harvard Business School study found that “one star’s worth of improvement leads… to an increase of between 5 and 9 percent in revenue.” As a result, restaurants are facing pressure to manage their dining experiences and to avoid low ratings as much as possible.
Likewise, job search websites such as Indeed and Glassdoor are providing descriptive—and often graphic—insights into conditions at workplaces. As with Yelp, one negative review can cause an employer’s reputation to plummet, deterring qualified candidates from applying.
Employers must intentionally address the concerns of dissatisfied employees. In the context of economic conditions that allow for hourly workers to be selective, a company’s good reputation is an asset worth protecting.
Adapting to blue-collar human resources trends is necessary to remain competitive.
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