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Talent Management

How to Attract and Retain Skilled Manufacturing Workers

One Minute Takeaway

  • The industry is potentially facing 2.1 million open positions in 2030.
  • Manufacturing industry perception is related to labor shortage challenges.
  • Brand presence and community partnerships can help combat challenges.

Even though the manufacturing industry is brimming with new innovations in automation, new ways to power factories and the excitement of an increasingly diverse global marketplace, there is one big challenge to confront: deep workforce shortages.

And, the pandemic is only partly to blame. While there were over a million manufacturing jobs lost at the start of the pandemic, 63% of those have been brought back online. It’s so much of a problem that The National Association of Manufacturers has sounded the alarm saying that by 2030 there could be 2.1 million open manufacturing jobs. The repercussions that would have on the industry, the economy and our everyday lives cannot be overstated.

So, what does it take for manufacturers to overcome challenges in recruiting and retaining skilled workers?

  1. Reframe the industry reputation and its opportunities
  2. Ensure your brand is present in the community
  3. Build a talent pipeline through schools and partnerships
  4. Retain with more than money

Manufacturing Recruiting Challenges

One of the biggest issues that manufacturers face when looking for new talent is that people don’t see it as a long-term, viable industry. There is a long-held perception that the manufacturing industry is:

  • antiquated
  • gender-biased
  • low paying
  • only for unskilled or low skilled workers
  • not conducive to career growth
  • bad for the planet

So, before an HR team can even begin to discuss career opportunities with a candidate, they have to reframe the industry reputation, its potential and the opportunities it presents. How do you do that?

Become Active in Your Community

Do people in your community still see you as “the factory on the edge of town?” Becoming active in community business and civic organizations is one way to help residents not only see your organization in a new way but to see the industry differently.

Community involvement has additional benefits as well.

Many candidates pick a job based on not just what it is, but where it is. When you’re active in the community you’ll have an opportunity to be at the table when decisions are made about affordable housing, business development, park creation and other community improvements that could make the city, and your positions, stronger in the eyes of prospective hires.

Have a Presence at Career Fairs

Many communities host career fairs which enable an HR team to do what they do best—work with potential candidates 1-on-1 to match their skills to open roles. Career fairs also provide an opportunity to reach a wide, diverse set of applicants.

Connect With Educational Organizations

Trade schools, local high schools with skill-based classes, junior and community colleges all present opportunities for your company to establish internships and other education-based partnerships. Some companies actually start with middle-schools. The goal is to build interest and understanding in manufacturing while also establishing a potential labor pipeline.

What Do Manufacturing Employees Want?

In a recent Grant-Thornton survey, when asked why manufacturing employees chose their jobs, 43% said base pay, 34% said the ability to balance work and life. Additionally, 30% said advancement opportunities; 23% said good benefits and 19% said autonomy in the work.

There’s something to be said about great frontline managers as well. A study also found that people who work in manufacturing want to be coached not micromanaged: 60% of employees in organizations with strong coaching cultures rate themselves as “highly engaged” vs. 48% in organizations that don’t support coaching (TLNT).

Manufacturing employees want what most employees want: appreciation, great pay and benefits, as well as development opportunities. And, without the basics you can’t expect loyalty.

Provide an Unbeatable Employee Experience

It’s important to remember that the labor shortage could be worse if we lose current employees. There is a certain balance that the HR team must maintain—while you are looking for new employees, you can’t neglect your current team. In fact, making decisions about new employees should include an engagement survey to understand the needs of your existing employees. In addition to seeing what your employees need, use it to let employees know that the company appreciates the extra effort they may be being asked to put in and assure them you are actively looking for new team members.

You may also want to take an opportunity to unpack your corporate culture. Culture is a strong selling tool so it’s important to understand what’s working and what may need to be reviewed.

Not sure how your organization can stand out? Start by creating an unbeatable employee experience. You can do this by:

  1. Implementing core values unique to your organization
  2. Creating a remarkable corporate culture
  3. Showing employee appreciation all year-round.
  4. Empowering frontline managers and employees with self service; and
  5. Providing pay options and early access to earned wages.
  6. Enabling upskilling and learning opportunities from any device, anytime.

Meet People Where They Are

While you will find some employees through the usual channels, to fill all of your open roles you’re going to have to throw a wider net. You may not see your company as a social media one but that’s where people are, and you should be too. Social media isn’t just about entertainment it’s also used for educating and informing and that might be the perfect space for you to showcase all that a manufacturing career has to offer.

How Paycor Helps

Paycor understands that the manufacturing industry is at a unique crossroads. That’s why we’ve put all that we’ve learned from over three decades of manufacturing partnerships into the creation of a series of focused HR tools designed specifically for the unique challenges you face. Our systems can help you manage the unique needs of payroll, time, training and scheduling so you can focus on recruitment and retention.