Innovation for Labor Optimization

Updated: Nov 15




As a Cube insider, you'll get access to interesting new trends, what we think about them and how you can benefit.


Focus innovation on emerging technologies to help optimize labor, reduce cognitive load and improve employee experience.


New Trend: Innovate for Labor Optimization

2021 has been the year of shortages and labor was one of them. After the pandemic shut downs of 2020, many workers either lost their jobs or decided to reevaluate their work situation. The United States reported a record 10.9 million job openings in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Around the world, airlines, hotels, restaurants, and retail stores can’t fill open jobs. This shortage is also affecting manufacturing, supply chain and construction. While the blame is often pointed at enhanced unemployment benefits, many people have simply retired or have a lack of child care.

Overall, this problem has sparked a new interest in innovation. Employers are working on innovations to effectively use the employees they do have and how to make their jobs easier. Creating time saving efficiencies and lessen the cognitive load, one employee could potentially do the work of two.

Technology and innovation tends to follow areas of growth and need. Companies are working to identify where employees are spending, or even worse wasting, time. Often employees are waiting for something to start, finish, or even for basic instructions on what to do next. Managing workers time, keeping them actively involved in tasks and relieving them of as much cognitive load as possible is the key to successfully using employees full value. Enabling technology and new innovation to track that productivity and more specifically, where there are gaps, to support changes in behavior or business processes.

New Insight: Emerging Technologies help Workers

According to Gallup's State of the American Workplace report, highly engaged business units achieve 21% greater profitability. Creating an Employee Experience technology to help employees feel connected to their work. “Every tool that impacts employee experience and engagement is an EX technology, including enterprise social networks, one-to-one and one-to-many video, gamification applications and well-being portals — basically, anything employees use to get their jobs done more effectively and efficiently. Ongoing investments and innovations in EX technology are essential to supporting a work-from-anywhere workforce.”

During this time of labor shortage, reducing turnover and keeping employees engaged is very important. New technologies can give employers an edge. Here are some examples:

  • For manual jobs, robotic automation doesn’t have to mean replacing employees, but it can help with repetitive tasks, allowing the employees to work on higher priority tasks. Robotic automation has been around for years and continues to become more and more sophisticated, but it will always require humans.

  • Virtual Reality technology has become a new tool businesses use to help train and engage with employees. Using VR can assist with training and quality control, using a simulated experience or the real workspace. Having the immediate feedback and interaction of virtual reality can increase your employees skills and reduce training time.

  • Computer vision can also alert employees when an action needs to be taken or track information. Computer Vision AI can help your employees and also save them from injury. Using machine learning and camera vision. ”Before the worker walks too close to the truck or load in the process, computer vision cameras capture and collect data, analyze the data, recognize the potential hazard, and within seconds (at most), notify both the worker and the operator to stop via a wearable device,” Everguard.ai says.

  • Voice technology can be used to improve productivity, communication, scheduling, and operational efficiencies.

New Action: 5 Actions You Can Take Now

Innovation teams can help lead corporations through the labor shortage. Here are 5 actions your team can be taking right now.

  1. Align innovation goals to focus on employee experience.

  2. Check-in with employees to see where they have pain-points and identify topics for innovation.

  3. Identify the core technologies that will address the challenges, including those that have had time to mature over the last 18 months.

  4. Connect with relevant startups that can help you go faster.

  5. Pilot with one or more startups to test and learn what can be applied and deployed into the business.

N³ Innovation can help you innovate for labor optimization and employee experience. To learn more about how external innovation teams can improve your labor concerns, contact us today!


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N³ Innovation does not endorse the organizations or products mentioned in this newsletter. If you are interested to learn more, contact us today for a full landscape and targeted solutions.

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