Become an employer of choice

Strategies to attract and retain manufacturing employees.


As manufacturers map their 2015 workforce plans, a key activity will be assessing the mechanisms they use to attract new talent and retain key players. An effective talent acquisition and retention program helps organizations shore up the skills gap and minimize the negative effects of employee turnover, such as increased overtime costs, expanded cycle times, more frequent downtime, and other related soft costs.

In today’s hiring atmosphere that increasingly favors candidates, employers who can quickly appeal to and hire new workers will be better positioned to maintain productivity as their teams respond to staffing vacancies. The ideas presented below can help hiring managers improve workforce stability and impact the organization’s bottom line. 

Know the hiring landscape
The Society for Human Resource Management’s February 2015 LINE Employment Report confirms that manufacturers continue to fuel a strong hiring landscape, with about half (50.5%) saying they plan to add staff. This optimistic hiring projection followed January 2015’s 17.2-point increase in recruiting difficulty when compared to the same month in the previous year.

Additionally, Randstad’s Manufacturing & Logistics Employee Confidence Index (a measure of U.S. manufacturing workers’ overall confidence in the economy, job market, and their personal employment situations) hit a historic high in the fourth quarter of 2014. Workers also showed growing confidence in their ability to find a new job, another indication of the candidate-driven job market and the potential for growing competition among employers for top talent.

Know the hot jobs
Knowing the industry’s most in-demand and hardest-to-find skill sets is knowledge that helps inform what strategies and company offerings will best secure scarce talent resources.

For example, Randstad expects expanded opportunities for forklift operators, production supervisors, and quality-control technicians over the next 12 months. By anticipating higher competition for these roles, employers can better position both their offers and employer “brands” for highest appeal to potential employees.

The money strategy
Although increased pay remains a highly persuasive recruiting tool, it’s not realistic for most organizations to raise salaries across the board. However, the strategic use of financial incentives can be extremely effective when recruiting for hard-to-fill positions.

For example, we’ve seen manufacturers increase starting pay by $1.50/hour to bring on an experienced forklift operator. Pay increases also help managers retain top staff members who are already trained and producing.

According to recent Randstad research, manufacturing and logistics employers clearly indicate that salary increases are the most effective tool to decrease turnover rates. Of the 10 industry segments that participated in the Randstad study, manufacturers felt strongest that bonuses are highly effective at heightening employee retention.

Motivations beyond money
To successfully contend for top candidates, manufacturers will not only need to assess the competitiveness of their compensation packages, but also the strength of their employer brand and overall workplace environment.

A recent Randstad employer branding study found that when rating the criteria that influence their choice of an employer, respondents first selected salary and benefits, followed by long-term job security and a pleasant work atmosphere. Both of the latter components are slightly more important to candidates over the age of 35 and those without a college degree. Candidates under 35, as well as those with a college degree, were more apt than their peers to expect work-life balance.

Keep experts on board longer
Retiring baby boomers combined with a looming skills gap presents significant challenges to manufacturing employers. Because an organization’s tenured employees are often involved in training less experienced staff, retaining those experts past eligible retirement age can help assure that appropriate knowledge transfer occurs as employees transition through their careers.

When Randstad recently asked companies if they tailor their retention programs to generational preferences, 51% of manufacturing hiring managers replied in the affirmative. This indicates an opportunity for many organizations to finesse this piece of their retention strategy.

For example, our employer branding research shows that a more relaxed work schedule and friendly work atmosphere are two top conditions motivating employees to work beyond their anticipated retirement schedules. Investigating tenured employees’ desires around company flexibility and discussing options with those approaching retirement may be a worthwhile effort for organizations looking to shore up current and future workforce needs.

Wooing the younger generation
Refining workforce strategy along generational lines is particularly important to attract the youngest generation of workers (Generation Z), who have distinct inclinations related to topics such as workplace environment, employee benefits, and means of communication.

Randstad recently conducted a worldwide study on the workplace preferences of Gen Z (16- to 20-year-olds), which reveals a number of interesting trends of the incoming workforce. For example, Gen Zs say the opportunity for advancement is the No. 1 factor motivating them to work hard and remain with their employers. Like many generations before them, medical coverage is the top benefit they expect to receive as employees.

Gen Zs also prefer to talk to their managers in person (versus email, for example), and they are very interested in connecting with a workplace mentor, which reinforces the notion of retaining tenured talent.

By clearly identifying the target candidate profile for open positions and understanding the evolving demographic of today’s talent pool, manufacturers can highlight their company’s strengths to pique interest and draw top employees.

Traci L. Fiatte is group president of Randstad Staffing.

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me