By Katie Brenneman
Let’s face it: These last few years have been fraught with challenges. We’ve endured the worst public health crisis in modern history. We’ve encountered civil unrest and global economic volatility. Now we’re facing a protracted supply chain crisis and a worsening labor shortage.
These realities have not only impacted how ordinary citizens live their daily lives, but also how entrepreneurs do business. This is particularly true when it comes to efforts to navigate the increasing resource shortages born of the various crises of the last few years. This article discusses strategies business owners can use to ethically manage resource scarcity.
Prioritize Effective Project Management & Lean Operations
When your company is facing increasing costs, surging demand, and plummeting reserves of labor and resources, one of the first and most important things you can do is prioritize project management.
Perhaps the worst thing that business leaders can do in an environment of scarcity is be reactive rather than proactive because you will find your business constantly on its back feet, constantly struggling to keep pace with market evolutions.
Instead, sharpen your project management skills, particularly when it comes to analyzing
internal and external market conditions and predicting future trends. This should include establishing key goals for managing increasing costs and supporting the survival of your business should conditions become worse.
What this will likely mean is that you will need to make your organization as lean as possible by avoiding unnecessary spending, instituting a hiring freeze, and refinancing loans for a lower interest rate if possible. You may even scale back on some of your technology, going minimalist with your digital infrastructure to ensure your company is as financially efficient as possible. In other words, retain only the technology that makes a significant, demonstrable impact on your company’s productivity and/or profitability.
The cost savings that result can then be diverted to customer retention efforts. After all, if you aren’t able to hold on to the customers you’ve already won, chances are you’re not going to be able to attract enough new business in these difficult times to recoup the losses.
Search for Viable Alternatives
When you’re struggling to find the resources you need, you’re going to have to get creative. For instance, if you find that you are facing protracted wait times or exorbitant costs for the materials you typically use to manufacture your products, then it may well be time to explore viable alternatives.
The construction industry, for example, has experienced significant resource scarcity due to the effects of climate change. This has resulted in a shift toward alternative materials to not only mitigate supply shortages but also to minimize the impacts of extreme weather conditions in the future. This includes the use of recycled materials. Best of all, the use of recycled materials ensures that you are ethically addressing the resource shortage without doing further harm to the environment.
The search for alternative resources, however, doesn’t pertain solely to materials and other physical goods. It also relates to the labor shortage as well. While superfluous technology should be avoided in these lean times, some technologies can prove highly beneficial in managing worker shortages.
Artificial intelligence (AI) systems, for instance, are highly effective in optimizing project management processes through the use of advanced data analytics. These systems are capable of collecting and analyzing literally billions of data points in mere seconds for the purposes of accurately identifying threats and opportunities. Armed with such information, project managers and leadership can make quick, evidence-based decisions to drive operations.
Similarly, business automation technologies can be used to perform many of the same job tasks that employees do. Chatbots, for instance, can be integrated into customer service operations. Marketing automation can conduct large-scale digital marketing campaigns with minimal oversight and, of course, robotics are becoming ubiquitous in manufacturing.
The use of technologies to mitigate labor shortage is another ethical option for managing scarcity by ensuring that customers continue to receive the goods and services they need without exorbitant price increases. At the same time, existing workers benefit because these technologies assure that the company can remain operational, despite the labor shortage, thus protecting employees’ jobs without requiring them to take on the burden of work from the company’s unfilled positions.
Business leaders today find themselves navigating immensely challenging operating environments. Resource scarcity is a particularly difficult, and worsening, problem across all industries. However, there are effective strategies business leaders can use to ethically navigate resource shortages without doing harm to customers, employees, or the broader community.
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, and activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.