This year I had the pleasure of attending the MAPP (Manufacturers Association for Plastic Processing). In each Zoom Meeting, as we met with other industry leaders, the same issue was being discussed: “how do we improve employee retention?”
Why Employee Retention is A Tough Topic
Unfortunately for manufacturing, employee retention has been an uphill battle. I’d say that we see a growing popularity toward the aesthetically pleasing, posh, and more aesthetic jobs – as social media has encouraged the working generation to care much more about things like comfort and aesthetics and much less about the stability and a weekly paycheck. Is this a bad change? I certainly don’t think so. However, it has rocked our world as manufacturing leaders who have to quickly adapt to meet these demands from employees of millennials and generation Z. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic took us all by storm as we had to compete with the government’s assistance programs.
Adapting to Meet the New Demand
Change can be hard even when it is simple. As employees seek to “beat the 9-5,” we are not going to convince them otherwise. Instead we are trying tap into these intrinsic desires for purpose. How do we meet their needs, while still satisfying successful manufacturing processes that have worked for so long? Here are 3 Changes we have made to Improve Employee Retention in the Manufacturing Industry for 2021.
1. Focus on Purpose Driven Work & Process
While last generations employees were satisfied showing up, getting the job done, and collecting a check to provide for their family, today’s employees are more concerned with purpose and process. How can we more practically involve our employee in the purpose and process behind the work? One way we have done this is by improving internal training for employees!
One way we have done this is by improving internal training for employees! As we start this new year, we decided to revamp our internal training by making it more hands on, interactive, and independent. Our employees can now go through a series of powerpoints, videos, and quizzes on our website to help them understand everything from company history and product development processes, to how their role helps the entire vision come together. Illustrating the vision and involving them in the process improves their implicit motivations to show up, and provide excellent work. We need them! We want them to be involved and excited about what we are making for our customers!
2. Improve the Aesthetics of the Work Environment
There is a lot to be said about the aesthetics of a work environment. While we can’t change the heavy equipment, and loud noises of machines that make the operation run successfully, we can provide improvement to the spaces where employees take their break and conduct meetings. This year that meant giving our break room a “face-lift”.
This year we provided our employees with new vending machines, new touch-free water dispensers, new countertops, shelves, and cabinets, and new seating. We also added a tv monitor for training! The goal of these changes are to improve employee morale, provide a more relaxing space for breaks and a more productive space for meetings. We have had great feedback so far from our employees, and are grateful we were able to provide these improvements
3. Provide Growth Opportunity & Community
Entrepreneurial concepts have had a serious upward trend. Social media and business gurus have been encouraging everyone to work from home and beat the 9-5. I believe it is good to acknowledge the benefits of the entrepreneurial spirit interwoven in the American Dream, but this doesn’t forgo the need for community, hard work, and growth within those entrepreneurial built businesses.
How do we seek to meet the growing desire for growth and entrepreneurial opportunity? We provide opportunities for upward growth in the company! With different opportunities ranging from Machine Operator, to Quality Control Personnel, the Mold & Maintenance Team, the Material Handlers, the Shift Foremans, the Shipping & Warehouse Crew, and Administration & Engineering – we provide a diversified environment of opportunity and growth for our employees. The best part is employees don’t need to go into debt in college to be successful in many of these positions! Many of our employees seek other training opportunities that don’t require a traditional college degree. This offers a successful alternative to the traditional format that has trapped so many millennials in student loan debt.
Out with the Old, In with the new
While we also provide bonus structures, scheduled pay increase evaluations and many of the traditional methods of using extrinsic motivations like money to improve employee retention. The Manufacturing Industry has to realize that this is not enough anymore. The days of extrinsic motivation are fleeting and a new generation is demanding purpose and belonging. Can we adapt to meet those needs? We can certainly try!
Have more ideas on how to improve employee retention in the manufacturing industry! Let us know. We love fresh concepts!