Labor Shortage: A Tale of Two Companies

  • -
labor shortage

Labor Shortage: A Tale of Two Companies

Tags : 

Finding the right employee for the job can certainly be challenging. Unemployment numbers anchor us to believe that the task may be even harder than we originally thought. Do you have a labor shortage?

I feel lucky to have the opportunity to speak with business owners, hiring managers, and front-line workers in a wide variety of sectors. I encounter good people looking for work and good companies struggling to fill openings.

What or where is the mismatch? Is it all about wages?

Labor Shortage

Ask an organizational leader why they cannot fill job openings and you’ll hear things like:

  • The millennials (and GenZ) don’t want to work. 
  • No one wants to work for the rate of pay we’re offering.
  • It’s hard work, most of these kids want a come and go as you please desk job. 
  • We don’t have a labor shortage. We have a skill shortage.
  • Factory work is dead. No one wants to do it anymore. 

Does this seem like a good list? I think it is a good start, and there are many variations of those comments that are closely connected.

How are you managing the labor shortage?

Two Companies

Imagine company one, they believe that they need someone to stack widgets into a box, all day long. When the box is full and heavy, they need to move it to the truck for shipping.

Times are tough and tools to improve the work are costly. Company management knows packing the box and shipping it makes money. Anything else, any stall, or stop, it costs the company money.

The CEO, CFO, and plant manager, measure the cost of manual labor from the income statement. Their cultural observation, “Keep expenses low.”

Then there is company two. At company two they also need widgets stacked into a box. They’ll need the boxes prepared for shipping, loaded, and then shipped.

Recognizing times are tough, they are planning for the long haul, they make an investment.

They hire people to ensure the widgets are stacked, loaded, and shipped. They also encourage them to find better ways. Employees are not just packers and shippers, they are also engineering the future.

The C-Suite and front-line management insist that people are an investment. Their cultural observation, “Employees are a human capital investment. Everyone helps make the Company better.”

People Choices

It is easy to quickly scoff at this story, and of course, I’m over-simplifying it.

Of the many organizations in many different sectors I work with, I can tell the difference between success and failure from their language.

One company hires employees as a tool to get the job done, they are an expense. Another, different company, hires human capital to ensure the success of the organization.

People have a choice.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Search This Website

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Blog (Filter) Categories

Follow me on Twitter

Assessment Services and Tools

Strategic, Competency, or Needs Assessments, DiSC Assessments, 360 Feedback, and more. Learn more