Labor shortage
4 strategies to help manufacturers win talent

In the current economic environment, competition for manufacturing workers is fierce. So it’s critical for you to use all of the resources at your disposal to attract and retain talent. Here are four key strategies to consider.

1. Sell your technological advantages

Cutting-edge technology — including internet-connected devices, artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, robotics and virtual reality — is rapidly transforming the manufacturing industry. These tools not only enhance productivity, efficiency and quality, but they can also be powerful incentives for recruiting new employees — and retaining existing talent.

Manufacturing workers — especially younger ones — are hungry for opportunities to learn about and use the latest technologies. According to a recent survey by Parsable (a developer of connected worker platforms), 45% of frontline manufacturing workers across five countries (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain) say the opportunity to work in a more modern, digital environment would be part of their decision to leave their current employer. The statistics are even higher for workers aged 18 to 24 (55%) and 25 to 34 (49%). The study also found that 53% of U.S. workers across all age groups would factor the opportunity to work in such an environment into their decision to change jobs.

2. Facilitate remote or hybrid work arrangements

During the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become commonplace for many jobs. It’s likely that remote work or hybrid remote/in-person arrangements (for example, two days in the office, three days at home) will become the norm. To compete in this environment, you’ll need to adopt technologies that facilitate these flexible work arrangements, not just for office staff but also for certain plant workers. For instance, manufacturing operations that take advantage of technologies such as automation, robotics and internet-connected machines make it possible for plant managers to monitor, and even control, operations remotely.

Offering remote work also allows you to expand your recruiting efforts beyond your geographical area. You can dramatically expand your talent pool by considering applicants who live in other parts of the country without necessarily relocating them.

3. Leverage shifting demographics

A factor that’s turning up the pressure on manufacturers to embrace digital technology and remote work is the increasing prominence of younger people in the workforce. Millennials and members of Generation Z already make up nearly half (46%) of the full-time U.S. workforce, and that percentage is rising rapidly.

In addition to being tech savvy, these younger generations also tend to place a high priority on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. To distinguish your company from the competition, you’ll need to address sustainability, diversity and other ESG issues to attract workers who’re becoming increasingly socially conscious.

4. Create career opportunities

To attract the best talent, you need to understand the perspectives of today’s prospective employees. Competitive salaries and benefits are important, but job seekers also value a work environment that provides flexible work arrangements, exposure to cutting-edge technology and tools, training, mentorship, growth opportunities, and corporate policies and practices that reflect their values.

According to the Parsable survey, a significant percentage of Generation Z workers (29%) plan to stay at their current jobs for less than two years, and 39% intend to stay for two to five years. To retain these workers, create an environment that allows them to pursue their career and personal growth goals within the company rather than looking elsewhere.

Stay ahead of the competition

Finding and retaining skilled workers during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for many businesses, including manufacturers. Stay ahead of the competition by employing these best practices.