Five Timely Takeaways From BIF




Labor and the Supply Chain

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Every day is in flux, and the day often begins with a headcount to see if there’s enough people to run a line. The labor situation for many customers is not good but also not uncommon. It’s a challenge to find good talent amidst a workforce that wants to work differently. Employees are increasingly looking at their options and learning to do more with less, and there is great competition for highly skilled labor.

Although the equipment/automation side continues to experience demand, automation is not always the answer to these problems. In light of ongoing difficulties, it’s important to focus on continuous improvement, making the best of what’s at hand in the current situation.



Demand as sparked by COVID-19

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There’s an increase in demand, sparked by COVID, that still has not diminished and it continues to change the way business is being done. One example being the pandemic demonstrated that people could work from home and still be productive. In an era of the hybrid workforce, it’s important to find self-managed people who are going to do the right thing.

Flexible work schedules will continue to be important along with being creative about where you source talent. For some, this includes recruiting right out of college. Others are exploring offering employees new work schedules, profit sharing and incentives to keep workers happy and healthy.



Sustainability of the Current Pace of Capital Expenditures

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Capital expenditures are increasingly dependent on navigating supply chain challenges with the costs of many key things going up, from lumber and stainless steel to plastic. There have also been rising freight costs and delivery times have become anyone’s guess. Everyone has experienced some element of this. Even if a capital expenditure is in the works, a quote on a new piece of equipment may take 14 months or more and frequently there is a degradation in the materials being purchased to build these components or equipment.

Prices are only being guaranteed for a short window of time, making it increasingly difficult to know the ultimate impact of a price increase. To meet these unknowns, there’s a responsibility to let supplier partners know when and where to expect volatility. Many feel it’s better to make a difficult decision sooner rather than taking a wait-and-see approach.



Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

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Diversity and inclusion is an ongoing discussion in the workplace. It’s a topic that’s managed differently by each organization. In some cases, this means collaborating directly with employees to create a task force. Others adopt a policy that involves online/in-person training. In response, employers must determine how to adapt to employees and the best way to change an organization’s internal culture.



Vaccine Management

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With frequently changing rules on the state and federal levels, it’s important to provide employees with solid rules. Different policies in different states often leave things up to the employer, making it necessary to mandate policies to enforce a workable environment. With the challenge of vaccination versus testing, some companies are providing an incentive to employees who choose vaccination.

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