That’s what the bakery ‘Die Brotpuristen‘ in Speyer told itself. Because it was becoming increasingly difficult to find young talent, the owners analysed what prevents young people from becoming bakers. And the night shift was at the top of the list. But who actually says that you have to start at 2 a.m.? That is actually only necessary if you want to offer customers freshly baked rolls from 7 am. The bread purists therefore decided to stop baking breakfast rolls and to start operations at 6 am. Sales now take place in the afternoon, and the offer focuses on artisan breads. This gives the dough more time to develop, resulting in tasty breads that last longer and are easy to digest. And the customers? They’re thrilled and are overtaking the bread purists.
What does such an example mean for other companies that also have problems with young talent?
First of all, it is important to find out what the young people don’t like about the job on offer. That could be, as in this case, the night shift. Or too rigid working hours. Lack of infrastructure. Lack of equipment for mobile working. These are all issues that can easily be addressed and changed. The Speyer bread purists, however, have gone one step further: They have questioned their basic assumptions. Who says that every baker has to offer fresh bread rolls as early as 7 o’clock in the morning? No one!
Many job descriptions contain such basic assumptions. Until Corona, one of them was: This job can only be done in an office. In recent months, however, it has become clear that this is not the case with many jobs. Of course there are jobs that can only be done on site. If you look after a machine, you have to be at the machine to operate it, as long as it cannot be controlled remotely. And already we are questioning this assumption.
There are now many companies that use augmented reality (AR) to service and repair machines: The mechanic is no longer on site, but supports the machine supervisor, who is on site, via software with the help of AR glasses to carry out the maintenance or repair himself. As early as the 1980s, there were systems that enabled production to work in ‘ghost shift‘ at night. In case of deviations, production was shut down without further ado. In the last 40 years, this technology has developed so much in many industries that it would be possible to operate the machines at a distance.
But it is not about making people superfluous. It’s about thinking about how to make the working conditions for employees attractive enough to attract young people. And that can only be done by challenging all beliefs and assumptions: Who says it has to be this way?
If you are looking for support in this challenge: I am ready!