Manufacturing Recruitment and Retention

As a manufacturer, have you considered how employee engagement and becoming an “employer of choice” can be used to improve manufacturing recruitment and retention? Doing so may help you to keep hold of key members of staff which can be used to push forward your growth plans.

Recent research by the EEF suggests remarkably optimistic growth predictions amongst our manufacturers for the year ahead. These forecasts were also mirrored in our 2017/18 Manufacturing and Engineering Survey Report, with 78% of respondents expecting growth for their business. The optimism is marred however by growing concern over increased production costs and a mounting skills shortage. There is a rejuvenated and increasing trend towards re-shoring in a bid to control costs and improve processes. Wage costs are generally going in one direction and to control these can seem impossible, but perhaps the key is to get more out of your workforce by managing retention and recruitment – in essence to establish yourself as an “employer of choice”.

A common complaint amongst business owners revolves around recruiting and retaining younger people in to their company. Industry stigmas and attitudes to work have their part to play, but a well prepared employer can attract the talent needed to take the company forward and respond appropriately to changes in the market. In the same way that many manufacturing processes have moved with the times, so too have employee perceptions and expectations.

Engagement may sound like a buzzword, but it is not something to be overlooked. Understanding your business needs and having a plan is key. For example do you know what the cost of recruiting or replacing one individual is to your company? Multiplied by the number of starters/leavers this can have a significant impact on your finances and productivity levels. In order to become an “employer of choice”, do you understand the demographics of your workforce and what is important to them? Do your employees have a voice, and is it listened to? As a local manufacturer, are you engaging with the educational establishments within your vicinity and demonstrating the opportunities available?

Taking the time to mull over these questions, and recognise the cost to your business of getting it wrong, can lead to a focussed strategy to retain and attract talented staff. Consider flexible working options; the constraints of production line timings might impinge upon the possibility of flexible working hours, but there may be other options that could be considered. Whilst cold hard cash is what’s needed to pay the bills, additional, non-monetary rewards and recognition can be just as well received. An improved quality of work life can lead to increased efficiency and effectiveness, at little or sometimes no extra financial cost to the business.

As an employer you need to understand that people talk about their work, both the good and the bad. Your staff are your best marketing tool – treat them well and they will shout about it, do the opposite and they’ll shout even louder. Becoming an employer of choice evolves over time, but starts with recognising and rewarding your existing staff members. Listen to them – often the best ideas come from the shop floor, are easy to implement and have the greatest impact. Investing some time in developing the right culture now should make it easier in the long term to attract and retain the right staff for your business.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss recruitment and retention within your manufacturing business, please contact Hannah Farmborough or call on 0207 429 4147 to be put in contact with a member of our Manufacturing and Engineering team.

This article originally appeared on the blog of our member firm, MHA Moore & Smalley.