5 Strategies for Hiring and Retaining Talent in Manufacturing
Are you having trouble hiring or retaining talent? Not surprising. Our economy, no matter the industry you’re in, is experiencing a hiring crunch the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time. Even decades. This, in the midst of a surge in demand brought about by the lifting of COVID restrictions and the fact that consumers are spending money again after a long spending drought.
It has been a wild ride. First, demand dropped through the floor, if not dried up completely, as a result of the lockdown. Companies in many industries laid off or furloughed workers. Now, demand is skyrocketing, and companies are scrambling to staff up and fill those positions. In all segments of the economy, people are simply not answering the call.
But the fact that you’re getting few responses to your job postings isn’t the only problem. It’s deeper than that. It’s retention, too. Not only are those laid-off workers not rushing back to their old jobs, but people who kept their positions during the pandemic are now quitting en masse.
It has been termed “The Great Resignation,” and the numbers are staggering. According to the Department of Labor, 4 million people left the workforce in April 2021. Voluntarily. In May, another 3.6 million joined them. In June: 3.9 million.
It adds up to staff shortages nationwide coming at a time when demand is through the roof. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called it a “national economic emergency.”
Strategies to combat the hiring and retention crunch
At USC Consulting Group, we’ve been helping companies find efficiencies in their operations to do more with less for 50-plus years, and this year, because of what everyone is going through, that effort has kicked into high gear. Here are five strategies we’ve been recommending to our customers to combat the hiring and retention crunch.
1. Put a greater focus on onboarding and training
A couple of staggering statistics about onboarding and training: Glassdoor tells us that companies with a strong onboarding process improve employee retention by 82%. And, according to Gallup, 88% of companies aren’t doing it well at all. If your onboarding is focused on paperwork, informal or inconsistent, you’re in danger of losing your talent. One key to onboarding: automate what you can. Great onboarding is not about paperwork. It’s about acclimating your new hire to your company, and to the job. Automating the paperwork will allow you to focus on more important things: namely, getting your new hire onto the floor and doing the job faster. Also, onboarding and training need to go hand in hand from Day 1, but training doesn’t and shouldn’t stop when onboarding ends. Develop training programs that will keep talent up-to-date with the latest and greatest techniques and skills.
2. Preserve your institutional knowledge
Companies that are experiencing the hiring and retention crunch are having more problems than simply being short-staffed. It’s also a matter of losing their institutional knowledge. What is that, exactly? It’s generally defined as “what an organization knows.” Expanding on that, it’s the experiences, processes, deep understanding and “this comes naturally” abilities of your people to get the job done in an intuitive way. The hard-won, trial-and-error-gleaned instincts that your senior people have absorbed from years on your front lines. That’s your company’s institutional knowledge. But what happens when those people leave? It’s critical to find ways to retain or pass along institutional knowledge when talented, experienced workers retire or leave the company. Read more about this important topic in “How to Preserve Institutional Knowledge for Future Operational Success.”
3. Identify gaps and weaknesses in your operations
At USC, finding holes in the operation is one of our specialties. Are those gaps or weaknesses due to people or processes? Is your line as efficient as possible? What’s the ideal throughput, and how can you get there? Hidden efficiencies can be lurking in your operations. They could help you do more with less.
4. Enhance your management operating system
This is about assessing how you plan the work, assign it to employees, and follow up on their progress. Define the roles and responsibilities of each employee so your process drives your success. We help companies do this by meeting with everyone, from the bottom up, from blue to white collar. Getting different perspectives from different angles lets us see the whole picture. It also ties in with EIP, because it gets people on board and involved in the process.
5. Realize that hiring may not be the solution
If you’re used to working with a certain number of boots on the ground, naturally that’s the number you were going to gravitate to when it was time to staff up after the pandemic. But do you really need all of those people? Focusing on efficiencies and streamlining operations may well mean you can get the job done with fewer people.
If you’d like to learn more about how we work, or talk with us about strategies you can use to harness your existing assets to meet your growing customer demand in the midst of this hiring and retention crunch, please get in touch today.