Navigating Through the Workforce Shortage

In today's fast-paced work environment, workforce shortages are felt across all industries, affecting both employees and managers alike. Recent data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce America Works Data Center reveals a concerning disparity between job openings and unemployed workers. The US has 9.8 million job openings and 5.9 million unemployed workers. In Kansas, there are 93,000 job openings and 43,792 unemployed workers. We have a math problem.

This issue poses a significant challenge for managers and their teams leading to stress, exhaustion, and burnout among hardworking professionals. In a recent public meeting on a difficult topic, the weight of the work fell heavily on everyone in the room. A colleague leaned over and whispered, “Everyone looks exhausted.” It was true. Again, we have a math problem.

The Public Policy and Management Center has the privilege of working with partners from the public and private sectors to work towards addressing the math problem in the workforce. Just like there is not one cause for the workforce shortage, there is not one solution. However, acknowledging the workforce shortage's impact on managers and their employees is imperative.

According to the American Psychological Association's 2021 Work and Well-being Survey, the effects of work-related stress on employees are concerning. The findings revealed that:

  • 79 percent experienced work-related stress in the month before the survey.
  • Nearly 60 percent reported negative effects of work-related stress, including a lack of interest, motivation, or energy and a lack of effort at work.
  • 44 percent reported physical fatigue.
  • 36 percent reported cognitive weariness.
  • 32 percent reported emotional exhaustion.

As a manager, it is crucial to recognize these signs and proactively work towards mitigating burnout among our team members. Here are some tips on avoiding or overcoming burnout: 

  1. Talk about the workforce shortage and its impact
  2. Provide clear priorities for the work
  3. Promote and lead by example of work/life balance
  4. Create flexibility on schedules when possible
  5. Create a team culture to assist when a colleague is on overload
  6. Celebrate the wins
  7. Encourage using vacation time
  8. Ensure employee resources are available and communicated

Understanding and navigating through the impact of the workforce shortage on employees allows managers to take proactive steps to mitigate burnout and help foster a healthier and more resilient workforce. Together, we can solve this math problem and build a stronger, more sustainable future for our organizations and employees.


Take the APA Work and Well-being survey here.