Be the Manufacturing Employer Where Talent Thrives

The manufacturing industry has long faced a shortage of talent. Industry perceptions may slowly be changing as manufacturers make innovative use of virtual reality in product engineering or act quickly to address society’s pressing problems, as we saw when they delivered protective gear or testing devices during the pandemic. We still hear from manufacturing employers that they find it difficult to make an effective case for themselves. When people leave the workforce or change careers, it’s hard for them to identify, invite, and retain strong job candidates. But there are many steps can take to bring talented people into their companies and enable them to develop rewarding careers.

Delivering empowerment organization-wide

In our experience, empowering people and clearly demonstrating that this is an important, strategic aspect of how your company works is critical for stemming talent losses and bringing early-career professionals into your workforce. For manufacturers, providing the best of modern technology to their employees is one of the best ways to help employees perform their best work. Doing so can directly impact their ability to recruit and retain people. Especially younger employees and team members with ambitious career goals won’t be happy compromising with legacy software, limited communications tools, or balky hardware. They look to you to support them in their growth.

Modern ERP, as implemented and configured to the best standards of the industry, can help people anywhere in a manufacturing company be more successful. That includes the production, warehouse, and shipping employees who don’t tend to benefit as much as others from flexible and remote working because without them onsite operations collapse. Today’s ERP systems can make employees’ lives easier by removing routine, almost mechanical tasks and furnishing them with resources to be more productive.

Broad involvement and sustained communications

To be credible and effective, employee empowerment and involvement need to be part of the business culture. Employees’ voices and expertise are critical for the successful selection, deployment, testing, and adoption of technologies that may cause them to reinvent how they think about and do their work. That goes not only for ERP, but also for productivity apps, conferencing, or remote and hybrid working.

The Sikich team can help you anticipate, plan, and manage organizational and technical change without slowing your business momentum. We also work with you to help design your communications outreach and keep employees informed about the exciting opportunities and potential of new technology for them personally.

Tell the right story

We recommend that you review how you invite job applicants to consider your company and what you offer to talented people once they are part of your manufacturing workforce, especially if yours is not one of the more well-known brands. What is the story you tell potential colleagues about your company? How does your organization benefit society and economy with unique, valuable products? What is the special flavor of your business culture and what makes the company enjoyable?

You need a strong, compelling vision as to why and how your business should be the future of people’s professional lives. Communicate it in a clear, attractive manner that highlights the accomplishments of your teams.

Make job postings resonate

If you are still posting job openings, communicating with and interviewing candidates, or structuring benefits plans in the same way you did before the pandemic, your company may not be seen as an attractive, competitive employer that can provide an excellent employee experience. It may be time for some research and fact-finding. Surveys or interviews with recent hires, long-term employees, former team members, and job candidates who didn’t accept offers may be invaluable. Your current employees will probably be happy to share their views.

Start by reviewing your job postings and gathering feedback on them. Answers to questions like the following can be most helpful:

  • What message do the voice and tone of job postings send about your organization?
  • Will it appeal to talented people who are looking for a professional home where they can develop a career?
  • Does the company sound like a modern, forward-looking business that helps people grow and uses technology to assist them?
  • What are the values you express most strongly in your job postings?
  • Are those truly the first things you want potential job candidates to know?

Be where job candidates will find you

The channels where people find your postings matter a lot. Publications and job boards you used in the past may no longer have the same reach. If you take a moment to review how your most respected competitors post job opportunities, it may be easy to see what’s not working well and what might be worth considering.

You probably should develop a social media strategy for convincing potential team members to consider you. You can design social media postings with the verbiage and visuals that represent you best, and you can amplify your exposure by connecting with analysts and thought leaders who shape manufacturing conversations. Be sure to support your job opportunities with stories and posts that showcase, for instance, your company’s product and engineering innovations or your collaborative, digitally powered workplace.

Invite the overlooked

You may also want to reassess the audience for your job postings and other communications—especially if diversity and inclusion are important to your business to. You could meet highly motivated future team members who are veterans, seniors, formerly homeless people, or part of another population segment that’s underrepresented in your workplace. That effort may require you to do some additional research and connect with community organizations that can put you in touch with them.

Give younger talent an opportunity

When it comes to gaining the interest of early-career job candidates, you might find good matches by being more proactive. These individuals might attend community colleges, high schools, universities, and other educational institutions.

Think about designing internship, job shadowing, and mentoring programs, or offering job fairs and facilities tours for students and recent graduates who have some level of interest in manufacturing. They need to know how their talent can help your manufacturing company innovate and compete. It will be important for them to realize that you have a lot more to offer than a range of subordinate positions and a small handful of executive or advanced professional openings. It’s also critical for them to see that your workplace is clean, healthy, safe, and attractive—not the stressful, unsanitary, noisy environment that some might still associate with manufacturing.

Grow loyalty and connection

Once candidates become employees, you want to retain them as loyal, productive team members. As mentioned, involving them in initiatives that might change the workplace is extremely important. If you haven’t recently benchmarked your salaries, benefits plans, career paths, and professional development resources in light of the current industry practices of other successful manufacturers, a review might be in order.

Some potentially high-value employee benefits could make a big difference for team members without incurring high costs. For instance, you might be able to offer inexpensive childcare options, legal services, or additional professional training. Or, you could consider sabbaticals, additional time off, or more flexible work schedules to give employees a healthier work-life balance. More than likely, you will also find affordable, new resources and services to help your team members learn and advance their skills—at their convenience and without taking time away from work.

Here to help

Contact Sikich to explore how we can help you address workforce and technology challenges. You can also:

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

About the Author