Businesses struggling with labor shortages and the supply chain
The coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has caused companies to make adjustments, such as allowing their employees to work from home or work flexible hours.
In many cases, businesses have adjusted their hours or closed.
As 2021 arrived, vaccines were available to fight COVID-19, but employers faced new challenges and supply chain issues.
During the pandemic, workers have been asked to make drastic adjustments. Today, many workers are reconsidering their options and this puts companies in deep competition with each other, in all sectors, for employees.
That’s part of the reason so many companies take part in the Journal Sentinel’s survey of the best places to work for southeast Wisconsin. Being named Top Workplace makes an employer stand out.
The pandemic has upended many industries and the hospitality industry, particularly the restaurant industry, is one of the hardest hit.
Amy Kerstein, administrator of Black Shoe Hospitality which operates Maxie’s, Blue’s Egg and Story Hill BKC, all in Milwaukee, and Buttermint in Shorewood, said some workers have left the hospitality industry altogether. Black Shoe is looking for those who want to learn.
“Before the pandemic, we were operating seven days a week. We are currently on a five-day model because staffing our restaurants is such a challenge,” Kerstein said. “We are slowly increasing our staff and will be opening a sixth day.”
A new family business based in Berlin, ITU Absorb Tech has been based in Wisconsin for nearly 100 years providing environmental industrial laundry services. The pandemic has caused “significant labor shortages that have negatively affected our customers and our own sales and service operations,” said Mariah Eiben, human resources administrative assistant for Absorb Tech.
“In the current climate, labor shortages are inevitable. Over the past year, like many other companies, we have been forced to meet some staffing challenges,” Eiben said.
“We work in a very team-oriented environment. Employees help out in areas they don’t normally work in order to meet the needs of our customers. We added signing bonuses to attract more candidates to fill our vacancies and increase staffing levels.
With unemployment so low for much of 2021, businesses are struggling to find the organizations needed to fill vacancies.
Companies like ITU Absorb Tech have reassessed how employees are treated and listened to the concerns they raise.
“Most importantly, employees don’t quit because of companies, they quit because of people. So we have to make sure we have the right people in the right seats at all times and provide a culture that people want to work in,” said Kristen Tracy, public relations manager for Cousins Subs at Menomonee Falls headquarters.
“We celebrate successes, recognize milestone work anniversaries, and invest in the personal and professional development of our teams.”
Supply chain issues across industries
Some companies have benefited from workforce changes.
Dean Stier, branding manager for IEWC Global Solutions in New Berlin, said the company has grown over the past two years. IEWC is an international distributor of wire, cable and wire management products.
“We think the IEWC is actually benefiting from the record numbers of people rethinking their careers and career paths,” Stier said.
“Our ongoing efforts to create a stimulating workplace are paying off as we attract talented people looking for something better. IEWC has a fantastic culture and a very generous benefits package, including the (Employee Stock Ownership Plan), which creates an amazing environment.
Challenges arose for IEWC after businesses reopened.
“After the initial COVID shutdowns ended, manufacturing came back strong and with it a crush in demand. Fortunately, IEWC has been very careful in managing costs during the recession and, in fact, has invested in the areas that would make us stronger in the rebound,” Stier said.
“We also worked closely with suppliers to better understand their specific challenges and develop strategies with them to help us grow stronger as demand improved. All of this allowed us to remain nimble in our approach. strategy of managing an uncertain supply chain.
Supply chain concerns
Supply chain disruptions have been a major concern, with some companies incorporating delays into their planning.
“We encountered supply chain issues across all of our product categories,” said Krista Hanamann, human resources and safety manager for Illing Packaging in Richfield.
“We use close communication with our suppliers and customers to ensure we have the right materials at the right time. We expanded warehouse offerings to meet targeted growth amid the shortage and expanded our manufacturing base,” she said.
“We offer creative alternatives to our customers where there are pinch points. For example, when tin paint cans started having supply chain issues and prices rose, Illing launched a range of decorated plastic paint pots that reduce costs and lead times and improve security of supply for our customers.
Black Shoe Hospitality also experienced supply issues.
“We had to look outside of our usual food, beverage and product suppliers to get some of the staples we use every day,” Kerstein said. “Costs have skyrocketed.”
Viking Masek Packaging Technologies in Oostburg, points to its versatility, proactive planning and adaptability which has enabled the company to grow.
“We have invested heavily in keeping equipment and components in stock at our US headquarters to mitigate supply chain uncertainties, allowing us to provide our customers with what they need. need faster than the competition. We absorb some of the risk of emergency inventory to meet the needs of our customers,” said marketer Danielle Ohl.