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Managing the Worker Shortage by Improving Efficiency with ERP Software

February 21, 2024

As of 2024, there are approximately 9.5 million job openings in the United States, but only 6.5 million unemployed workers are available to fill them. The US construction and lumber and building materials (LBM) industry faces an acute labor shortage, with a need for 501,000 workers in addition to regular hiring rates in 2024.

Despite persistent challenges, shortages have created opportunities for forward-thinking businesses.

Those who adapt for the benefit of their workforce stand the best chance of finding and retaining the skilled workers they need. But how can this be achieved practically?

Investing in technology such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) is proving an effective solution. ERP solutions help businesses better manage existing employees while attracting a more tech-savvy workforce.

This article explores how businesses can reduce worker shortages by increasing efficiency through ERP software.

Understanding the Worker Shortage Across The Building Supply Industry  

Worker shortages are a global issue. According to Ceridian’s 2023 Executive Survey, 66% of global business leaders have experienced labor shortages in the past year, and 88% believe these shortages will likely continue.​​

The construction and lumber and building materials (LBM) industry is feeling the full force of labor shortages, with unemployment rates remaining at a 20-year low.

Businesses need to be ready to face these challenges head-on. Amid shortages, the ball is firmly in the court of workers. Wages are increasing, and top talent has more bargaining power than ever—particularly in highly-skilled, technical roles. Those are the roles building supply companies are most intent on filling.

Employee Tensions are Compounding Shortages

According to a study by Pew Research, businesses that fail to invest in employee development and satisfaction are the most likely to experience high employee turnover. Most of those exiting their positions feel inadequately equipped and empowered to thrive in their roles and bogged down by menial administrative tasks.

A lack of access to genuinely useful technology compounds the problem. PwC revealed that although businesses believe they’re investing in helpful tech, employees often disagree.

Businesses must invest in practical solutions that help employees do their jobs, including automating slow and cumbersome processes and reducing time-consuming admin.

Employee attitudes towards automation, in particular, have changed. While job losses at the hands of automation were once viewed as a danger to people’s employment, many now seek to harness the technology to redirect their attention to creative, higher-level tasks. Automation also helps construction businesses overcome cultural hiring challenges by creating safer workplaces.

As McKinsey partner Vik Krishnan describes, “I see technology helping frontline employees do a better job more than I see it eliminating those jobs.”

The upshot is that construction and LBM companies that differentiate themselves through technology have the best chances of winning the talent war, both in acquiring new employees and retaining key personnel.

ERP Benefits in Managing Worker Shortages

ERPs are fundamental in boosting workplace efficiency. Modern ERP solutions from Epicor help manage transactions and accounting, organize inventory and logistics, and support manufacturing and production, among numerous other functions.

Studies and research have repeatedly found operational, managerial, strategic, IT infrastructure, and organizational advantages to using ERPs. They’re the technological hub of the wheel that propels modern businesses forward.

For the building supply industries, ERPs are also integral to creating a technologically mobile workforce that can stand the test of time.

Let’s take a closer look at how Epicor ERP can close the skills gap and reduce worker shortages:

1. Automating Time-Consuming Processes

People frequently quit their jobs because they’re burned out from menial tasks and administrative duties. ERPs offer a solution by removing some of those tasks from the equation.

Epicor ERP software excels in automating routine work, substantially reducing dependency on manual labor. Data visibility provided by ERPs further enhances productivity. Employees don’t need to seek out data from other departments; they can self-serve.

ERP-driven process optimization reduces operational costs by 23% and administrative expenses by 22%, according to G2.

2. Attracting Technically Skilled Workers

Epicor ERP software enables businesses to manage data, predict trends, and make proactive decisions. This equips employees with the tools they need to excel in their roles while contributing to their continual professional development.

Delivering a technologically advanced workplace culture helps businesses attract and retain tech-savvy individuals, creating a virtuous cycle of benefits.

Portraying construction and building supply companies as technologically competent and willing to innovate gives them a significant competitive advantage in attracting talent amid high worker demand.

3. Enhancing Workplace Transparency and Collaboration

Robust ERP solutions enhance efficiency across the organization, benefiting everyone from manufacturing teams to C-level executives. They’re designed to foster a collaborative and transparent work environment.

Employee satisfaction and development are crucial. It's not just about technology–it's about empowering employees to thrive in their roles and embrace technology as an ally.

Epicor ERP solutions provide a variety of tools for sharing information and enhancing cooperation across various departments. Regardless of location, all team members can access the same timely and relevant information. As a result, 95% of businesses adopting ERPs report major improvements in collaboration.

For example, Epicor BisTrack gives businesses a clear view of their enterprise from the small details to the big picture, helping them eliminate waste and expand margins in every corner of the business.

4. Providing Flexible Work Arrangements

Epicor ERP  is deployed in the cloud, slotting seamlessly into modern remote and flexible work arrangements.

Employees can access crucial data, participate in decision-making, and execute complex tasks remotely. This helps balance personal life and work, which people value more than ever.

Furthermore, employees who work in the field or travel frequently can use their mobile devices to access up-to-date information, enabling them to perform critical tasks remotely.

5. Helping Employees Handle Compliance

Epicor ERP software eases the burden of compliance and auditing for employees, which can be incredibly stressful in highly regulated industries. They provide accurate, up-to-date, easily searchable records and reports, simplifying compliance with regulations like GAAP or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX).

Laying the Foundation for Success

The current labor shortage undoubtedly challenges businesses, but it also allows digital-savvy companies to get ahead.

While worker shortages are not set to rebound naturally anytime soon, Epicor can help you avoid the impact so you can push on with innovation and growth. From inventory to sales, businesses can streamline processes and drive results to stay resilient, flexible, and evergreen. Companies that act now stand the best chance of defeating skills shortages and supplying their business with the talent needed to adapt and grow.