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The lowdown on staff shortages (and how to tackle them)

While many of us have our fingers crossed that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, a number of ‘hangovers’ (for lack of a better word) are still being felt. One of them is the chronic shortage of staff across several supply chains and industries.

In October 2022, the National Skills Commission released its annual Skills Priority list. The report found that 286 occupations (31%) had experienced worker shortages across the year; a significant jump from 2021’s figure of 153 (19%).

As reported in The Guardian, the Commission’s data revealed that the five most in-demand workers were “registered nurses, software and applications programmers, aged, disabled and child carers and construction managers.” In not unrelated news, these occupations make up the bulk of industries experiencing the workplace phenomenon that’s come to be known as The Great Resignation.

Furthermore, The Guardian stated that “of the 20 largest employing occupations, more than half are now facing skills shortages, with the number of jobs advertised up 42% in the past year, to 309,900 in August.”

With lower migration numbers (which means fewer people entering the country on working visas – traditionally a rich vein to tap into for sectors such as hospitality), Australian industry is experiencing a double-whammy of not only labour shortages but an ‘experience crisis’ as employers take on staff with much less experience than they would usually consider for their job vacancies.

We can see this experience crisis at play in the airline industry. The blow-back that airlines like Qantas, Virgin and TigerAir are dealing with as flight cancellations and overnight stays in transit lounges mount – along with lost luggage, hours on hold to call centres and demands for refunds impact countless travellers – is driving a veritable avalanche of negative publicityand possibly irreparable brand damage.

These staff shortages are beginning to have some important consequences for the Australian economy too. While the unemployment rate for the September 2022 quarter remained unchanged from June in the same year at 3.5%, staff shortages are now playing a role in driving inflation upwards.

Figures released by the The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed that the rate of inflation for the September quarter of the 2022/2023 financial year rose 1.8%, an overall jump of 7.3% in the Consumer Price Index from the same time last year.

“The CPI’s steep increase this year is set to continue further, with the Reserve Bank of Australia anticipating headline inflation to peak around 7.75% by the end of 2022,” notes Sophie Venz in Forbes.

Consider outsourcing

The current staff shortage crisis isn’t about to end any time soon. No matter what industry you operate within, outsourcing can be a genuine solution for keeping the back-end operations of your business ticking along.

Outsourcing, particularly Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), isn’t a new concept for many business leaders, HR professionals and staffing experts. What is new are the new applications across a range of different industries, and the levels of sophistication that the digital era has enabled in the space.

The most commonly outsourced services include live answering, recruitment, bookkeeping, tech support and telemarketing. However, many organisations are now embracing outsourcing for their marketing and graphic design content, as well as a host of social media content on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and TikTok.

The pluses of BPO

The obvious advantage of partnering with a BPO is the cost-savings. In the context of staff shortages, however, there are a number of ways that using a BPO can make life a lot easier for your business.

BPOs give businesses the opportunity to focus on their core objectives and tasks at hand by taking care of many time-consuming but essential tasks like payroll and bookkeeping, as well as more ‘traditional’ services that people associate with an outsourcer such as overflow and surge management. A virtual reception and phone answering set-up, appointment booking/setting service and live chat support are other examples of BPO services that enable you to dedicate resources to the tasks that deliver the most value within your business.

Outsourcing companies also have specialist knowledge at their disposal, giving you access to experts without having to bear the cost when compared to hiring a full-time equivalent yourself.

Ensuring that the people doing your accounting or HR work, for example, have the proper qualifications and industry certification or accreditation is the responsibility of the outsourcing company. It also means that the people engaged to look after your business processes are up-to-date with legal and statutory requirements and understand the latest changes and trends in your industry.

In conclusion

We’re in the middle of a staff shortage crisis, with no end in sight, which is taking no prisoners when it comes to the industries and sectors affected.

Whether you’re experiencing staff shortages first hand, or you’ve identified them as a potential weakness for your business down the track, outsourcing could be the secret weapon you’re looking for to keep your customers satisfied, your operations moving and safeguard your bottom-line.

Don’t be left short – speak to TMC about what you can outsource and how you can do it affordably