We are not surprised that local manufacturing business leaders are struggling to find skilled manufacturing talent, and this impacts their total cost of employment. An effective talent approach lowers the total cost of employment through driving results in attraction, retention, and productivity of talent. Aligning wages with skills, lowering turnover and training will positively impact a manufacturing company’s profitability and create an opportunity for reinvestment. We have seen business leaders address this issue in three specific ways.

  1. Plan ahead:
  • Planning ideally means estimating what orders are coming and beginning to source for additional skilled talent in advance. Sometimes it’s not possible to forecast orders, so planning can also mean flexible staffing solutions that allow business leaders to be agile and responsive to demand.
  • Organizations need to source skilled talent to fill future needs on an ongoing basis. If a company doesn’t have a full-time HR person or recruiter to focus in this area, they may use a professional staffing organization to continuously source for critical skills and build a talent pool. As an example, Staffing Inc. has placed over 130 skilled manufacturing personnel in 2014. This means they had to source over a thousand candidates to ensure they had the right fit for each of those positions.
  • At a minimum, this approach creates a pool of candidates that are ready to meet hiring managers when the need arises. This allows employers the flexibility to decide if they want to take on the cost of additional talent as they plan for potential orders.
  1. Broaden the Talent Pool
  • We have seen companies broaden their talent pool geographically by investing in additional transportation options like convenient bus stops.
  • Another way to expand the pool is to make critical skills preferred vs. required on the job description. Hiring a person with high learning agility sooner and allowing them time to develop can be faster than waiting for the perfect person in this market. This approach requires an investment of training but can increase employee retention as well making the employee more cost-effective in the long run.
  • While networking and job boards are still ways for candidates to find opportunities, companies need to use social media tools to attract millennials. 25% of the current workforce is millennials. This generation expects the companies they work for to have a social media presence. They have grown up on the internet and they rely (if not over-rely) on the internet and social media to network and find work.
  • We have seen clients who haven’t attended to the culture on their shop floor, and this impacts their ability to attract young talent in manufacturing. Cultural issues can be related to safety concerns, work/life balance (e.g. excessive use of overtime), or a lack of inclusiveness for women or other diverse employees. At times skilled employees leave an organization with a cultural issue and go to another organization for lesser pay and benefits.
  1. Effective Training Program

We have seen our clients use assessments to determine potential and then create apprenticeship relationships in their shops to speed up the development process. An effective training program for critical skills has multiple benefits.

  • These programs allow more flexibility on the skills employees bring at the start of their employment, which broadens the talent pool and shortens the time to fill a position.
  • Solid development improves employee retention, especially for millennial workers who are highly focused on building skills.
  • As employees build skills, their productivity improves as well. This, in turn, improves the bottom line results for the business.

Plan Ahead + Broadening the Talent Pool
+ Effective Training Program


Attracting and Retaining Quality Talent

*Thank-you to Blythe Kazmierczak and Kellie Haines from Axios Incorporated for providing insight for this post.