The current labour shortage - an excuse or opportunity? - Human Experience

If you own, lead or manage a business in Australia you’ll be all too aware of the labour market shortage. The maths is simple, there are not enough humans to fill all the vacant roles. This means businesses are short staffed and the staff we are employing generally do not have the desired experience. To add to the pain, there’s no immediate end date to this shortage, I heard someone say expect it to last another two to three years.

The labour market shortage leads to a whole array of operational challenges for businesses, one of biggest challenges being the impact on service delivery. We’ve all probably experienced this as a customer ourselves in recent months. Just in the last week I’ve had the wrong meal brought to the table, I’ve been charged incorrectly in a retail shop, and I’ve had staff not know how to answer basic questions over the phone.

The easy thing to do is blame the labour market shortage. Yes, it’s true and yes, it’s making service delivery hard. But not every business is choosing to be the victim of this current environment.

At Human Experience our clients are focusing on the basics of their unique core service offering. They are on-boarding (largely unskilled) team members and training them in their basic service standards. They are then engaging with us to provide them with feedback on how their (largely unskilled) team members are going delivering these basic service standards. And then their managers are having coaching conversations with the feedback that we provide them.

Take for example Appliances Online, Australia’s largest online appliances retailer. Just like every other business, it’s been hard to find staff but once they hire them, they provide their team members with some of the best onboarding training I’ve ever seen. We mystery shop their team every month and after every mystery shop, they sit down with their team members and have a coaching conversation. And this cycle is continuous, they never see their job as done and they never compromise on those basic standards.

The management team at Appliances Online have not allowed themselves to be the victim of the labour market shortage. In fact, they are thriving in it, having recently been voted by CHOICE as the Best Electronic Online Store and winning Australia’s Online Retailer of the Year and the Customer Service Excellence at the Online Retail Industry Awards (ORIAS)

I’m not saying it’s easy and of course I wish we didn’t have a labour market shortage. But it is our reality now and for a while yet. Every business and every leader has a choice. Is it going to be an excuse for sub-standard service delivery or is it going to be a motivating factor to do better and raise your game?


Nic McClanachan, 6th October 2022

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