The skills gap continues to plague the manufacturing industry. Manufacturers just can’t seem to attract or retain the modern manufacturing workforce they need. A lack of interest in manufacturing, as well as the public’s perception, has thwarted off new talent for years. As manufacturers attempt to shed light on what the modern manufacturing industry is all about, more people are beginning to understand that the industry has vast career opportunities and so few resemble a 20th century facility. But there is more that can be done to attract new talent to the dwindling manufacturing workforce. We will discuss some ways manufacturers can become the company new potential manufacturers would want to work for.
A workplace culture is something millennials pay a lot of attention to when searching for jobs. Old workplace models are much less desirable and can essentially act as a new talent repellent. When an employee is not able to see how their work will aid in the overall mission of the company, they feel as though their work is not valuable. A modern manufacturer wants to see how their effort will go on to be a part of the company’s growth and prosperity. When an employee is shown how and where they fit into the corporate machine, they will be much more willing to put in more effort because they will feel as though their work is a part of something bigger than themselves.
Along with showing them how their work directly benefits the company, they want to know that they are not in a dead end position. Career development and the potential for personal and professional growth need to be clearly stated. If an employee is able to see how they will progress through the company and climb that corporate ladder, they are able to see how their effort will help get them to that next professional level. Having a goal to strive for will give the employee more incentive to stay at a company for a longer period of time. U.S. employees are antsy, even if they are happy they will always be looking for that next opportunity. By clearly explaining that there is opportunity where they are now, will give them incentive to look for new opportunities locally rather than searching for them elsewhere.
Another thing manufacturers are having trouble with is communication and collaboration. Millennials especially, are extremely efficient communicators. They grew up in an age of instant communication via texts, instant messages and video chats. With social media, if they have a concern with a product or need to contact customer support, they can take to twitter and receive instant responses. When they are looking for a career they want to make sure that their questions, concerns and comments will be read and responded to quickly. Periodically checking your e-mails is not enough to keep them around. An efficient communication system needs to be in place.
Collaboration goes right along with this as well. Employees are more in touch with what is happening on the shop floor. If they see that a process is not working as efficiently as it could be, they want to have that clear line of communication so they can suggest a more efficient method. This isn’t just a way to make them feel “special”, this collaboration and communication can have great benefits for the company too. The new workforce was brought up in an age of streamlined processes, they might see things that would be missed by someone that’s not as comfortable with current technology systems. By having an outdated communication system in place, and no way for them to make suggestions, you could be doing your company a great disservice.
Culture, communication and collaboration are some main areas manufacturers need to focus on in order to attract and retain the talent they are looking for. Baby boomers continue to retire and it is expected that 2.8 million manufacturing job openings could be just around the corner. It is important to start taking the necessary steps now to make your company more desirable to new generations. Don’t think of this as a hoop you must jump through to appease coddled millennials (A millennial wrote this by the way ’93), think of it as a way to improve your overall manufacturing operation. This is the first time in history older generations are looking to younger generations for advice. It is due to the rapid development of advanced technologies and as the younger generations are surrounded by this technology from birth, they are naturally more comfortable using it. They do not need to learn how to use the technology, it’s second nature to them. By understanding this, a manufacturer has a better chance of using the new workforces knowledge to help their company move forward through the technology age.