May 25, 2022

Volume XII, Number 145

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Manufacturing Success During the Great Resignation

With the “Great Resignation” reportedly affecting the manufacturing sector more than other sectors, many manufacturers need to work harder than ever to find and keep qualified workers. This problem is compounded when business is growing, as is the case for some manufacturing companies. To address these obstacles, businesses should consider adjusting their hiring strategies and finding ways to adopt a more employee-friendly work culture.

Adjusting Hiring Strategies

  • Streamline hiring. Traditionally, the hiring process involved a careful, perhaps slow, review of an applicant’s qualifications, including one or more interviews with decisionmakers. Manufacturers often can work faster to get applicants a quicker decision. Consider holding jobs fairs, perhaps at the facility, with all necessary decisionmakers present. After a preliminary applicant screening, initial job offers often can be made on the spot, pending a successful background check, as necessary.

  • Make a recruitment video. Long before applying, potential workers are surfing the internet for insight on potential employers. One multimedia option is to post a recruitment video on the company website. One commentator has even prepared a sample script for manufacturers.

  • Cast a wider net. Recruiters and HR professionals may advertise jobs more creatively to reach a wider audience by building partnerships with multicultural professional associations, nonprofits, trade associations, and academic institutions. In addition, manufacturers can look for talent internationally, leveraging immigration to fill labor gaps.

  • Increase pay. Wages for some manufacturing employees had stagnated for years but have been growing with inflation of late for many companies. Increasing pay is often difficult, but some companies are bridging this gap with hiring bonuses that are repayable if the employee quits early.

  • Improve onboarding. Many industries, not just manufacturing, can stand to improve their onboarding processes and first impressions. Businesses should consider improving their onboarding steps and communications to ensure new hires are happy, know where to find key information, and meet management expectations during this transition. Many employees are lost during the first 90 or 180 days. Minimizing that loss is key to ramping up workforces.

Improving the Work Culture

  • Promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). These are not corporate buzzwords. According to a January 2022 study published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, the failure to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion is contributing significantly to the perception of a “toxic” work culture, which the study concludes is the strongest predictor of turnover during the Great Resignation. Manufacturers should consider implementing or strengthening DEI programs.

  • Offer lateral opportunities. The study in the MIT Sloan Management Review noted, “Lateral career opportunities are 12 times more predictive of employee retention than promotions.” Some employees just need a new challenge, not a new employer.

  • Make predictable work schedules. The study also found that, for blue-collar employees, “[h]aving a predictable schedule is six times more powerful in predicting front-line employee retention than having a flexible schedule.”

  • Consider remote work, if possible. Unlike employees in other sectors, blue-collar manufacturing workers typically cannot work remotely because they need to be physically present on the factory floor to do their jobs. But, to the extent that remote work or hybrid or flexible work arrangements are possible, especially for front office employees, companies should consider offering that flexibility.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2022National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 18
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About this Author

James M Stone Labor & Employment Attorney Jackson Lewis Cleveland, OH
Principal

James M. Stone is a principal of the Cleveland, Ohio, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. From the opening of the office in 2006 until early 2020, Jim served as office managing principal in Cleveland, when he stepped down to focus on his busy practice and increased task force activities within practice groups and industry teams.

With more than 25 years of experience in labor and employment law, he has conducted more than 120 negotiations with unions, represented companies in hundreds of employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, and other claims in court and...

216-750-4307
Jonathan Minear, Employers Attorney, Wage and Hour Compliance Lawyer, Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Seattle
Associate

Jonathan M. Minear is an Associate in the Seattle, Washington, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He focuses his practice on litigating workplace law matters and assisting employers with preventive advice and counsel.

Mr. Minear represents employers in state and federal courts in a broad range of matters, including harassment, discrimination, retaliation, employment torts, breach of contract, wage and hour compliance, and wrongful termination claims. He also appears before administrative agencies, such as the Equal Employment...

206-626-6432
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