As the demands that workers are making in job positions are changing across all industry sectors, human resource managers in manufacturing are increasingly looking for a manufacturing workforce management solution to help recruit, hire, and retain more employees as labor shortages persist and technology accelerates change.
Lately, small businesses and companies within the manufacturing space have been making innovative changes as they enter 2023. These include tactics for circular operations, examination of local supply chain options and lower-carbon logistics, risk assessments in supply chain management, and advanced technologies such as augmented reality on the factory floor.
As this industry sector progresses, its workforce management and human-capital leaders will need to innovate as well — for the benefit of workers, leadership, company environment, and the future.
Prioritizing Skills Using Manufacturing Workforce Management
Manufacturing jobs today will likely require different skills in the future, which is where manufacturing workforce management software can help. In recent industry studies, more than half of business leaders say their workforce will need new skills and capabilities within the next two to three years. Additionally, manufacturers facing a shortage of skilled workers also report lower operating margins.
Companies and small shops face a host of problems because of the “skills gap,” including reduced on-time delivery repair, performance drops, safety being compromised, product development quality falling, expenses going up, product launch-dates missed, quality customer service declining, downtime, and cybersecurity and information technology risks.
Some studies show that only two out of 12 new candidate hires have the skills manufacturers need. They suggest manufacturers should:
- Make employee value propositions (not just candidate value propositions).
- Look for broader skill sets instead of only focusing on known talent pools.
- Prioritize skills when defining talent needs.
The National Association of Manufacturers is now recommending how businesses in the industry can leverage “adaptive skills” — those helping an individual learn and expand their capabilities to meet an ever-changing job function or business market.
It’s also important for human resources professionals to stay on top of their hiring processes with the right manufacturing workforce management platform. Oftentimes, two of every three job candidates cut the hiring process short because they weren’t attracted to certain aspects of the job, whether it’s culture, development opportunities, work-life balance, or other issues.
Knowing your organization’s technology roadmap helps you update job descriptions and staffing plans as you hire. Assemblers might be needed less due to robots, but manufacturing plants still need programmers. Make your job descriptions future-focused so you’re prepared. Ask more about what candidates need to know today rather than their past experiences.
Also, consider more than just manufacturing skills when hiring. Leadership in manufacturing requires soft skills such as initiative, attitude, communication, and teamwork. Manufacturing managers increasingly need to upskill or reskill their current workers, as well as hire for current and future openings. You can retrain current workers by replacing outdated positions on file with new positions and job roles, thus making sure you keep talent and ensure the skills gap is closed.
Developing critical corporate-wide skills for your business can also help your workforce grow their careers. However, if you ultimately still cannot fill a job position, consider automating it if possible.
Manufacturing Workforce Management: Retention Efforts and Competition
Many managers need strategies to retain manufacturing talent because of the nationwide labor shortage, and manufacturing workforce management solutions are aiding in the cause.
There was a big resignation wave within this sector in 2021. During this “great resignation,” record numbers of workers quit for other jobs across all types of industries. To keep their employees in an industry that’s facing labor challenges, manufacturers need to take proactive steps:
- Make your workforce more inclusive. Empower them to make their own decisions. Create a less hierarchical structure that encourages people to think beyond their own tasks.
- Provide career-progression planning to retain lower-level workers. Put together employee development plans so workers can develop skills and get paid more. It’s possible to reduce turnover and increase employee engagement with career development plans. Some studies show that nearly 8 out of 10 manufacturing professionals think their employers don’t provide career growth opportunities — but oftentimes, that’s just not true.
- Match experienced employees with new hires so they can learn faster. As mentors, older workers are more likely to stay with your company since they develop new talent.
- Investing in work-related education can help retain skilled workers while cutting recruiting, hiring, and training costs. Most employees would stay at a company longer if businesses invested in staff learning, training, and development — oftentimes implemented through manufacturing workforce management Employees who move laterally within an organization can learn a wide range of skills and figure out how they want to grow.
- Make performance management more value-based. Instead of measuring what a worker produces, look at the employee’s efforts and how they have improved efficiency.
- If you can, offer hybrid or remote work arrangements. Many Americans now value the ability to work from home every now and then, at the very least.
- So you don’t lose your best talent to your competitors, make sure your salary and benefits package is competitive. Make sure you’re compensating for position benchmarks.
You can assess what your workers want in terms of perks and benefits by surveying them, which is where a manufacturing workforce management software solution can step in. Your workforce may feel like you’re more invested in them when you offer benefits and better engagement tools that are directly based on their survey feedback.
Vacancies Increase as Workers Retire
While there’s a current labor shortage in manufacturing, many industry executives agree there was a talent shortage brewing even before the COVID-19 pandemic shook up the jobs market. On top of this, some are forecasting there will be nearly 2 million new manufacturing jobs created in the United States by sometime between 2027 – 2030.
Many also tout the fact that within the next decade, well over 2.5 million Baby Boomers could retire from manufacturing, possibly resulting in that exact amount of unfilled jobs by 2030. Currently, some say up to nearly 50 percent of manufacturing companies are understaffed.
It’s time for manufacturing leaders to replenish a retiring workforce. Getting older workers to train juniors and become mentors might increase retention. Consider letting older workers who are considering retirement transition to part-time work so you can keep skilled labor while sourcing new talent. Do it all with the right manufacturing workforce management platform.
If you’re hiring, you might also want to place a bigger emphasis on skills over formal education. Manufacturing executives often cite the following as the most in-demand skills: collaboration, thinking creatively and solving problems, data science, digital technology and literacy, sharing information and communicating, managing other employees, adaptability, and connecting or engaging with clients/customers.
Trade schools and technical colleges are also good places to recruit. Nearly half of manufacturers plan to form partnerships with colleges and trade schools over the next few years. Early recruitment helps you build a talent pipeline that’s ready to go.
Are You Ready for What’s Next?
American manufacturing has changed a lot over the past few years, and human resources professionals have faced mounting challenges. One of these challenges is deciding which manufacturing workforce management solution to implement over others.
Manufacturing is crucial to the safety and national security of global populations, and manufacturing demand has increased and faced new challenges since the pandemic. Manufacturers have a bright future according to many studies — including everything from jobs, innovation, and production within emergency preparedness to national security to resilience, an much more.
U.S. manufacturing is also uniquely positioned to strengthen over the long term coming out of the pandemic. More than 10 percent of manufacturing jobs account for national gross domestic product (GDP), as well as significant levels of net capital stock, productivity growth, patents, exports, and research and development spending.
VCS Software and Manufacturing Workforce Management
VCS Software is your all-in-one solutions platform when it comes to manufacturing workforce management, whether your business, shop, factory, or multi-site operation is large, medium, or small. VCS Software provides the right solutions within human resources and workforce management — and so much more.