Ways to Incentivize Manufacturing Employees when Remote Work Isn’t an Option

This article originally appeared in Industry Today.

In Sikich’s M&D Pulse survey, we found that 84% of businesses experienced plant floor employee turnover in 2021, and that 30% of surveyed manufacturing executives take more than 90 days to fill open positions. When you have to clock in to a physical work location every day and it seems your family and friends are reveling in a remote work environment, it can be difficult to find the “why” behind the reasons you’re still showing up.

As a manufacturing leader, you’re probably no stranger to the above sentiment. You might even find your labor force shrinking or coming up with reasons to stay home. Most production jobs just aren’t able to be performed remotely. Couple that with high competition for labor and lingering effects of the pandemic still keeping many from re-entering the workforce – the perks you offers can literally make or break your business.

Below, we look at the most impactful incentives to offer manufacturing employees and leverage in recruiting candidates when remote work isn’t an option. 

The incentive and its role in retaining existing employees:


If your hourly pay rates aren’t on par with or above other businesses in the region, your talent will be easily enticed to leave to work for the competition. One way to measure compensation against the competition is by conducting a market assessment.

Vacation day rollover

In an era of labor shortages and a year of reduced travel, your employees may not have used all of their vacation time, making them feel overworked. Instead of watching their unused paid vacation days disappear on 12/31, allow your employees to capitalize on their given 2022 vacation days in addition to any unused time from 2021.

Flexible scheduling

Flexible scheduling options around core operation hours can help working parents, employees caring for elderly parents and many more.

If possible, during the school year, allow working parents to have a schedule that permits them be available for drop offs and pickups at their children’s school. If employees have unavoidable conflicts during the day, offer them evening or night shifts. You might even consider implementing a four-day workweek that still consists of 40 working hours or the ability to job share.

Brock Wiegand, the Human Resources Manager at Rheo Engineering, a leading material handling equipment supplier, spoke to the company’s successful efforts in retaining existing employees through flexible scheduling. “We’ve implemented flexible schedules for most of our team members for many years and found that it is a major contributor to retention and morale. It continues to make a big impact in this ever-tightening labor market.”


An annual bonus doesn’t just mean more money in your employees’ pockets. It’s something employees can look forward to at year-end or around the holidays.

Tying performance and attendance into bonus amounts can also improve productivity.

The incentive and its role in attracting new employees:


It’s unlikely a candidate applying to work for your business applied only to your company. To make sure candidates accept your job offer over the competition’s, your compensation package has to outperform.

Vacation day rollover

If you can’t offer potential employees a generous amount of time off right off the bat, create a system for them to accrue and use days off incrementally. Then, enroll them in the same rollover setup mentioned for existing employees.

Flexible scheduling

Permitting new employees to have a greater say in the hours they work is not only appealing to candidates, but can make a significant difference in broadening your talent pool to laborers who might only be available in limited capacities.


Money talks. Implement a sign-on bonus policy to entice new hires. When recruiting younger employees, you might also look into student loan assistance programs or tuition reimbursement.

We can think of so many perks to provide your hardworking employees. Below are a few more action items you can execute in your retention and hiring strategies:

  1. Small gestures to show leadership cares: On employees’ birthdays, work anniversaries or other special occasions, handwrite a card and deliver it to them in person. Or, bring in a cake!
  2. Start a safety prevention committee, where employees can get involved in making suggestions for improvements to their work environment.
  3. Have healthy snacks and meals delivered to work so your staff doesn’t have to worry about packing a lunch that day.
  4. Offer paid volunteer days, as many employees are eager to get involved in the community but just can’t find the time.
  5. Provide a uniform allowance: We know that work boots can get pricey.

Make sure your retention and recruiting strategies are competitive by talking to our human resource advisory experts to find out where you stack up. Contact us today.

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.

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