Manufacturing's Guide to Recruiting & Keeping Talent



Like many industries, manufacturing may be feeling the effects of the war for talent. The competitive global talent landscape is making it difficult for manufacturing leaders to recruit and retain talented employees.


A recent Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute (MI) report revealed a significant skills gap has emerged in the United States (U.S.) manufacturing industry, with companies needing to fill nearly half a million job openings. As a result, the majority of manufacturing companies (82%) report they are struggling to increase revenue growth, and 81% are unable to maintain production levels to satisfy demand.


One of the significant contributing factors affecting this gap is an aging manufacturing workforce. In 2020, 25% of workers in manufacturing were age 55 or older, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). With so many workers on track to retire in the coming years, it is projected that as many as 2.1 million manufacturing jobs are likely to be unfilled by 2030. In addition, 77% percent of the manufacturers surveyed say they expect to continue to face ongoing difficulties with recruitment, retention, and filling jobs beyond 2021. 


The manufacturing industry is integral to the U.S. economy, with a long history of generating positive economic activity, raising living standards more than any other sector, and, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, offering the highest multiplier effect in the nation — for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $2.79 is added to the economy.


Even in the face of these challenges, the following five opportunities make it possible for manufacturers to use robust human capital management (HCM) technology to gain a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting new talent.


#1 – Target new demographics

Manufacturers need to look beyond their typical talent pool and prioritize reaching new demographics in their recruiting efforts. A study conducted by Glassdoor reveals that 76% of job seekers consider a diverse workforce an important factor when evaluating companies, and 32% state they would not apply to a company whose workforce lacks diversity. 


While women represent nearly half of the overall workforce in the US, just 30% of manufacturing professionals are women, and only about a quarter of production jobs are held by women.


Partnering with trade organizations can be an effective way for companies to connect with women who work in the industry as well as attract new candidates through participating in events. For example, Women in Manufacturing is a national trade association dedicated to providing year-round support to women who have chosen a career in manufacturing. 


Another demographic is veterans. Military experience develops a wide range of valuable skills, such as leadership, teamwork, risk analysis, and safety protocols, that can transition easily into the manufacturing field.   In addition to filling much-needed positions, companies can also benefit financially when they hire veterans. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program rewards employers with a tax credit when they hire job seekers in targeted groups that consistently face barriers to employment.


Partnering with high schools, community colleges, and tech schools is an effective way for manufacturers to connect with candidates just entering the workforce. Collaborating with learning institutions to offer educational programs, internships, and career preparation helps manufacturers connect with potential workers and provide information about specific job opportunities and the industry.


An HCM that includes Applicant Tracking System (ATS) features helps support recruiting efforts by serving as the hub for all candidate communication and data, from initial contact through hiring and beyond. Having all the pertinent information in one place streamlines the process and makes it easy for the employee and candidate to stay informed and connected.


Related: HCM Technology Helps Managers Recruit Better Candidates.


#2 – Re-evaluate your benefits and compensation

Because manufacturers are competing with other kinds of employers in the universal war for talent, it’s essential that they make sure they are offering candidates attractive compensation packages. Employers need to stay up-to-date on wage and salary information to ensure they remain competitive and regularly re-evaluate their benefits offering to meet candidate expectations. 


In an industry such as manufacturing that employs a range of different generations, it’s important to look beyond the core offerings of healthcare and retirement plans. Rather than a one-size-fits-all plan, taking a more personalized approach to benefits offerings puts manufacturing employers in a better position to address the needs of various demographics and make candidates feel valued.


An integrated HCM can make a more personalized approach to benefits management possible. A system that includes an online benefits administration platform will help streamline enrollment and management and allow workers to access their benefits information whenever they need it easily.


Related: Create Personalized Multigenerational Benefits for Your Organization.


#3 – Use position management for better planning

According to the BLS, the U.S. manufacturing industry employee separation rate has been trending upwards for the past five years. High turnover rates tend to create more work for Human Resources and recruiting departments, making it difficult to fill open positions in a timely manner.


A position management approach to staffing allows both position and personnel data to be managed simultaneously but separately. This helps employers obtain accurate, historical, and real-time staffing information, regardless of who is in a particular job. By quickly accessing real-time data on the state of the workforce, companies can more easily project what is required to meet both current and future needs. 


An integrated HCM system can make it easier for manufacturing companies to plan in advance, empowering them to mitigate the effects of upcoming changes in the workforce like retirement and internal promotions. HCM tools can also assist with identifying potential internal candidates for those soon-to-be-open roles, regardless of who currently fills those positions.


Related: How To Effectively Use Position Management for Flexible Employees.


#4. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements

According to the Deloitte and MI report, younger workers prioritize work-life balance and do not view manufacturing as a field that allows for flexibility. To combat that perception, manufacturers can explore ways to offer more flexible work arrangements. Implementing programs like job sharing and flex shifts can help attract younger generations who aren’t seeking traditional 9-5 positions. 


As there are many different facets to manufacturing, it’s quite possible that certain positions can even be conducted remotely. Implementing technology that can streamline and facilitate when and how work gets done can be a valuable asset and allow companies to gain a competitive advantage with their recruiting efforts.


HCM technology that manages positions and personnel separately can help support job sharing, facilitate remote work, and make managing flex shifts and non-traditional schedules easier.


#5. Prioritize Career Development 

Another way manufacturers can improve their talent acquisition efforts is by investing in developing promising candidates who may not yet possess all of the necessary skills. Providing a comprehensive learning and development program, combined with on-the-job training, can help attract candidates that may otherwise not apply for open positions. 


In addition, many candidates may not realize there is potential for upward mobility in manufacturing. Companies can attract and engage younger workers by clearly outlining the different career paths available and identifying where there are opportunities for growth. By implementing upskilling and reskilling programs within the organization, they can also ensure their current employees acquire the knowledge and skills needed to move up in the company.


An integrated HCM system that delivers continuous learning and development programs can be a valuable tool when it comes to developing personalized career paths that align with both individual employee goals and overall business initiatives.


Related: Keep Your Employees with 21st Century Career Development.


Manufacturers must adapt talent strategies to compete

The war for talent continues to impact the manufacturing industry, and companies face an increasingly shrinking talent landscape. To keep up with demand and in order to increase revenue, companies must look for new ways to improve their talent acquisition efforts.


Manufacturers can improve their recruiting efforts and attract new talent by targeting new candidate demographics, offering competitive compensation packages, flexible work arrangements, and prioritizing career development. In addition, utilizing position management with the help of a robust HCM system can make it easier to manage both current and future workforce needs successfully.



About SyncHR 

We are here to support with efficient, accurate, and cost-effective manufacturing workforce management solutions. To learn more about human resources for manufacturing organizations and how technology can help, click here to view our manufacturing solution. 


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Sarah Greesonbach

Sarah Greesonbach

Sarah Greesonbach turns cutting-edge research and data into captivating HR technology marketing content. She loves to consider the possibilities of humanizing, organizing, and minimalizing all things HR, and her writing helps HR executives and professionals develop their instincts and arrive at actionable insights for employee engagement and business performance.

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