Continuous improvement, a sustainable solution to the labor shortage

Since 2020, we hear about the phenomenon of the “Great Resignation”. In our article “The 3 underestimated impacts of the labor shortage“, we studied the business impact of losing employees. Then, in our previous article, we analyzed the causes of the problem. Now is the time to turn to suitable and sustainable solutions ; not only to minimize the impact of the labor shortage within our organization, but to make our employees mobilized and thus avoid a disaster in terms of retention.


How do you meet such a challenge, which can sound like asking for a miracle?


Mobilization definition


A mobilized employee is considered to have an emotional connection to the organization. They are proud of their work and perform tasks, on a voluntary basis, beyond what they are in charge of. They collaborate, work as a team and are proactive when it comes to problem solving.


For each cause, we have a solution at Bambou Space


Cause #1: A disengaged workforce

Solution: Involve employees in decision-making: whether on a small scale for “quick fixes” or on a larger scale: employees have the solutions. Choosing to set up a continuous improvement solution, more particularly the Bottom-Up solution, will make it possible to collect solutions from the experts of the processes in place; the employees. Thus, feeling that their expertise and ideas are considered and that their work has an impact within the organization, they will have the desire to become more involved.

Bonus: This will, in turn, have a positive impact on the productivity of your internal processes.


Solution: Make sure they have all the materials and tools they need to do their jobs effectively. Here, it’s not just about providing them chairs with elbow rests or an ergonomic desk; it is also a question of ensuring that paper forms are replaced by a digital solution, providing them with software or applications that allow them to do their work optimally, etc.


Coming back to the first solution, the fact of implementing concrete tools in order to effectively collect their ideas for improvement will allow to develop the « continuous improvement muscle » of your employees, thus becoming an integral part of their daily lives. This will make the manager’s job much easier, in addition to improving the performance of your departments and employee satisfaction.


Cause # 2- The pandemic and its repercussions


Solution: Flexibility. Employees are more tired, the mental load increases, which increases the risk of burnout. Be flexible; on a daily basis and in terms of working conditions. It’s time to consider the possibility for some employees to shape the schedule that suits them outside of team or client meeting hours. In addition, let us remember the context of labor shortage in order to broaden the horizons of organizational culture: Offer employees more flexibility in terms of social benefits and working conditions; for example, by giving them the possibility of taking unpaid leave. The goal is not only for them to preserve their sanity; but also that they themselves develop a motivating work environment and thus avoid opting as a solution to shop around for new employment opportunities.


Solution: Boundaries. It is possible to help employees draw a line between their personal and professional lives in this context of remote work. How? By establishing “zero weekend email” policies or by encouraging them to unplug completely on weekdays evenings.


Solution: Redefine the corporate mission to make employees feel like they are making a difference, contributing to a cause greater than themselves. Some employees are affected by the pandemic context and seek to give meaning to their work through everything that is happening outside. How is your business taking part in creating a better world? How is it possible to make your employees feel that their work, too, is “essential”?


Cause # 3- Managers :


Solution: Make sure manager hats are worn by the right people and/or provide management coaching to targeted managers. Staff management is an art; being promoted to manager because we have excelled in our technical field is not (or no longer!) the recommended strategy. The era of the authoritarian manager and micromanagement is also over; we opt instead to give the reins to the “tribal chiefs”; those who are willing to walk unpaved paths for their team, who want to see people excel and shine. A leadership style focused on emotional intelligence, transparency, proactivity and the ability to treat employees as human beings, all equally different from each other. These leaders walk the floor, take an interest in the people, their work and go to Gemba; whether face-to-face or digital. They are present and listening.


Solution: Ensuring that each employee pursues their professional ideal, which is the manager’s responsibility. We must make sure that each employee finds his “Why”; their reason for doing what they do in terms of career. The emphasis is on their personal growth, offering them development, coaching, mentoring, and in-house training; which is also a key element of a continuous improvement approach.


As an organization, are you currently in a position to put in place possible solutions to avoid losing your key employees, and even better, to mobilize the troops? If not, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and turn to continuous improvement as a solution to employee retention.