Author: Paul Henriques in: HR, Skills, and Training
The pandemic changed many things in the nature of work. One of the largest changes has been the move to fully remote work that has been adopted by office workers around the world.
While some companies are sticking to their guns and forcing their staff to return to the office (often with disastrous consequences like mass resignations or non-compliance) those companies where remote work is impossible have been the most negatively affected.
For in-person jobs the change has been a loss of talent to corporations offering full-remote work. In other words, for restaurants, local retailers, and manufacturing there has been an increasing loss of staff. For example, a server in Louisville, KY can now take a call center job with Apple for more money, with better benefits, better hours, and from their bedroom than what they could make waiting tables.
In other words, the job supply has gone global for many professions making the demand for local staff skyrocket.
At the same time, you have likely seen an increase in the number of orders. As the global supply chain has been bruised and battered, more and more corporations are returning to local suppliers.
This is an almost generational windfall that you must take advantage of quickly to ensure your continued success. This means a hefty investment into staff. You need to get the right people and keep the right people… And quickly.
But you are having trouble attracting staff. You don’t have the deep pockets of a VC backed tech start-up, or a multi-national manufacturer. And, unlike them, you can’t offer employment to someone out of state. They have to be willing to move to your location.
In-person jobs have been left in an odd place. While automation has come far, some things still need people. What can you, as a manufacturer, do?
There are four areas that you can work to positively influence your staff while not breaking the bank:
The first area to improve is your personal interactions with your staff. Personalize these interactions and learn about your staff and teams. This will help you better determine their wants and needs. By determining what matters to your various teams, you can then personalize your actions and communication with them. This improves their motivation and engagement and that gives you more opportunities to build relationships and look for staff that you can promote into areas that they are most interested in or a good fit for.
This personalized approach leads to more positive staff experiences which, in turn, lead to a higher retention rate (up to eight times more likely to stay and four times more committed to the company).
Many companies have a revolving door of staff, where employees are more than willing to jump to the next ship. This, in turn, has some managers feeling like staff are not worth committing time to. Not engaging with your staff is, of course, the wrong approach. One big driver of turnover is a lack of career advancement and opportunities (up to 1 out of every 3 persons interviewed). In other words, if you do not make your staff feel like you are investing in them, they will go to a shop that will.
Instead, assume that all staff are willing to go the distance at your shop and invest in their development. This can be anything from covering a percentage of tuition to mentoring programs. Staff that feel heard and understand their route to the future also have a deeper interest in your company’s future.
One of the worst things created by turnover is burnout. Imagine if you will: One worker quits. You now ask other staff to add hours to cover. This leads exhausting and absenteeism. So, you have to ask for more. This leads to another employee quitting, and then another… While there might be a few staff that are willing to work 80 hours a week, since a tired worker is more likely to make mistakes, that overtime is costly. Bost in added hourly costs and added errors made. To put it simply: Burnout leads to massive losses in productivity.
To help avoid burnout, help staff by promoting flexibility in hours worked and jobs performed. This flexibility will help your staff achieve a better work-life balance, which means they are less stressed and more willing to put 100% into their work when they are there. This, in turn, leads to more sustainable employment. Of course, flex-hours can be easy for office work, but shop floors need staff at various positions to ensure work gets done. Here, a better DCP and MRP system can help you plan your orders in a way that ensures you always have coverage. You can also look to implement an operator bonus structure for on-time orders, where staff are kept informed of what is due and when with no bonus if the order is completed too soon.
Another option in flexible scheduling can be implement for jobs that can be done remotely. For tasks that an employee must perform, but can be performed remotely, implement a flex system that allows those staff to work from home on some days.
A final item is allowing staff more control over their daily activities. By letting staff dictate a percentage of their flow, you let them find ways that they can improve their own tasks.
A common failing of companies when an employee improves their operations is that a worker is almost punished for doing good. Instead, allow the employee some added flexibility that they would gain by improving their day.
For example: An employee finds a way to streamline a process and save 4 hours a week. Instead of finding a way to fill those 4 hours with busy work, allow them that free time. Let them fill the “extra hours” with extended lunch breaks, connecting with their co-workers, shadowing a role that they want, or working on a personally important project.
With unemployment at an all-time low and companies everywhere looking to hire, workers are seeing many chances to jump ship. Keep your staff where you need them by improving your staff interactions, seeing them as permanent staff and training them as such, granting more flexibility and time-off, and rewarding shop improvements with “free time”. These simple actions can greatly improve staff morale and retention.