There are a handful of common struggles manufacturers face, especially those companies still growing including the retiring workforce, recruiting millennials, employee engagement, and providing impactful training. However, within these challenges lie solutions to make things more manageable and productive as they look to the future.
Let’s take a closer look:
1. Managing the Skills Gap
Let’s start with one of the biggest challenges: the widening skill gap and anticipated glut of job openings from retired workers. While the manufacturing industry is not nearly as labor intensive as when it started — technological advancements are helping to set the scene for success. One that provides healthy, long-term employment benefits.
So, what to do with a close-to-retirement workforce? Build a cross-generational team. Your younger, more energetic workers can teach aging workers new tricks for a surge of new productivity, and your veterans can instill best practices and machinery-knowhow in return.
We recommend an OJT mobile app that offers an easy, organized way to capture knowledge by recording training moments via video or phone. Grab that expert and record him or her demonstrating the correct way to perform a task, then create a course with quizzes to verify comprehension.
2. Attracting Younger Workers
The good news is that more millennials are seeing manufacturing as a promising career choice, compared to how boomers have traditionally viewed it - according to a recent survey by Protolabs. To capitalize on this, manufacturing companies should emphasize the presence of a career path, as millennials prioritize advancement. They should also emphasize their tech tendencies, as not everyone knows how tech driven today’s manufacturing landscape is. For example, electronics, robots, and even virtual reality devices have replaced the standard mechanical systems of the past.
3. Keeping Employees . . . Employed!
Another challenge is employee retention. It can be a revolving door, as they say, in part due to low pay. But another reason may surprise you: employees have no problem sailing out the door when there is little to no relationship with their supervisors and/or a lack of camaraderie amongst coworkers. A MSW Research and Dale Carnegie Training study affirms that a major factor in employee retention is the relationship between worker and supervisor.
Building an environment of trust, where workers feel safe talking to their supervisors, can dramatically decrease turnover. Be sure to maintain regular 1:1 meetings with your team, even if you think there isn’t anything pressing to discuss. It can create an opportunity for other topics to be discussed that can strengthen the relationship. Consider a platform that provides structured training observations that fosters dialogue between workers and leaders - improving employee retention as well as performance, and boosting training effectiveness.
4. Providing Consistent, Accurate Training
A disorganized training program can be detrimental to your operations. An alarmingly high number of companies in the manufacturing industry only offer a day or two of training by way of videos, then it’s baptism by fire out on the production floor. New employees on the job for 90 days or less are at the highest risk of injury or accident, so it’s surprising that this practice continues in place. Especially when workers are operating dangerous machinery.
And it’s easier than you think, again thanks to technology. Current training technology enables you to customize training, that can be provided at a group or individual level, while incorporating multiple options for reinforcement daily. And best of all, all record keeping is automated electronically to save you admin time… and paper!
Organized training prevents bad practices from spreading, reduces incidents, and increases productivity — a win for all around!
Overall, growing manufacturing companies need to remain devoted to innovation and using new technologies and solutions to continue to their expansion and momentum. Utilizing advanced platforms alongside best practices, like the ones mentioned above, will allow for growth with minimal disruption.