4 Tips for Building Your Thriving Manufacturing Workforce

People | David Rea| July 22, 2020

Manufacturing remains one of the largest industries for employment in southwestern Pennsylvania. Yet, there is a persisting lack of awareness within new generations about the availability and growth opportunities of manufacturing careers across a range of experiences and interests. Manufacturing today is high-tech, and technology-driven skills such as coding, programming, and more are needed to keep production running in this modern era. 

As existing workforces are retiring in significant numbers, building and maintaining a robust and thriving workforce is a top priority for small- and mid-sized companies. Manufacturers have the power to instill an understanding and excitement in the next generation to access innovative and dynamic jobs that offer cutting-edge technology, competitive pay, personal satisfaction, and career growth and advancement.  

Here are a few of our recommended initiatives that manufacturers can start implementing to attract and retain talent and build their thriving manufacturing workforce.

1. Engaging Employees Throughout Challenging Times

With the global sweep of the COVID-19 pandemic, many manufacturing organizations are facing significant operational challenges. Because of these changes, employees must feel their concerns are continuously addressed in comprehensive and meaningful ways. Organizations can do this by formalizing operating procedures and processes, communicating a clear health and safety plan, and managing risk while anticipating more changes.

Catalyst Connection’s manufacturing experts can provide strategic direction, support, and guidance on how to execute and maintain a successful back-to-work strategy to address the most pressing employee concerns. Reassure your employees that you’re taking all of the safety precautions available and have an ongoing plan to address emerging needs. Our Back-to-Work Playbook can help you establish protocols and effectively communicate the safety and security of your workplace to all employees. 

From there, check the pulse of your current workforces, gain insights into talent attraction and retention planning, and implement changes through our partnership with Rhabit Analytics. Through Rhabit’s free COVID-19 Pulse Survey, manufacturing organizations can gather immediate employee feedback and concerns to address changes, challenges, and opportunities across manufacturing workforces. 

2. Addressing the Skills Gap

To begin creating a positive perception of the manufacturing industry to the next generation of employees, organizations must know their audiences. The younger generation (Gen Z and Millennials) tends to think of manufacturing as an outdated industry that their parents and grandparents worked in, only open to those who went to technical or vocational school or holding no advanced degree at all. When in reality, modern manufacturing can be just as exciting and future-forward as Silicon Valley. Manufacturing companies need to push modern innovation and communicate that they are safe, clean, and innovative working environments utilizing advanced technology.

3. Developing Leaders within the Organization

Company culture starts at the top. If not already in place, current leaders need to shift their thinking from providing answers to asking questions and digging for the root cause of issues. Individuals want to feel connected to an organization’s goals and like they’re making a difference. They also want to feel as though they can approach those in positions of authority.

Manufacturing organizations should also have a strategy in place for offering developmental opportunities to all employees. This includes continued education and industry training. By making employees feel empowered and valuable, they’re less likely to look elsewhere. 

For additional leadership development insights and strategy, Catalyst Connection can help. We are an official educational channel partner of Development Dimensions International (DDI), which allows us to bring world-class leadership development opportunities to manufacturers and their workforces, right here in southwestern Pennsylvania. 

4. Partnering with the Community

Many organizations are increasing partnerships with local high schools, community colleges, and technical and vocational schools. By securing relationships with school counselors, manufacturers can better reach the next generation of the workforce and gain the opportunity to talk to students about career options. Another way to connect with students is through offering internship opportunities, apprenticeships, or sponsorships to give those interested in manufacturing the chance to gain hands-on experience.

As the manufacturing industry continues to evolve, there is an opportunity to light the way for a new era. With increased recruiting efforts and strategy, and close attention to the current workforce, the future of manufacturing could be bright. Catalyst Connection offers several tools and programs to advance and grow workplace development efforts and strategies for manufacturers. Learn more here and let us know how we can best serve your organization and help you position for profitability and growth.