Attracting and Retaining Manufacturing Workers

Manufacturing is thriving in Minnesota and Iowa with more than one in ten workers employed in the manufacturing sector. A recent report released by Enterprise Minnesota shows that finding qualified workers was one of the top concerns among manufacturing executives. When asked to identify the biggest challenge manufacturers face that might negatively impact further growth, 34% of the respondents said attracting qualified workers was one of their top concerns, which is up from 26% reported last year.

With the tight employment market, manufacturers need to be mindful that it’s not only about what the candidate can contribute but what the company can contribute to the candidate. There are some things that manufacturers can consider to recruit and retain the best manufacturing employees.

Put your best foot forward online

Take time to build a strong online brand and presence, not only with your own website but also on recruiting sites like and social media sites like LinkedIn. Be descriptive in job postings, including the skills and experience you need but also what’s in it for the candidate. Whether it is an advancement opportunity, an excellent benefits package or showcasing your company’s culture, you want the candidate to be able to see themselves working in your organization.

Address the image problem

Manufacturing jobs have dramatically changed and are more automated than in the past. These high-tech jobs require skills in software, engineering and programming. Employers need to combat what many have as a dated perception of the manufacturing industry by educating potential employees, especially the student population, about how technology has reshaped the industry.

Internships and apprenticeships

These types of programs provide students with skill-building and help them see the types of roles that are available for them in manufacturing. They also serve as a way to effectively transfer important knowledge and skills from experienced workers to young talent.

Onboard employees thoroughly and offer continuing on-the-job training and cross-training

It may be tempting to have a worker jump right in, especially if deadlines are tight, but proper onboarding will confirm an employee is ready to perform the job on their own from a quality and safety standpoint. Career paths should be developed to help employees develop their skills and grow professionally. Third-party certification programs or tuition reimbursements are ways that manufacturers can help their employees build their professional skills.

It’s not just an HR problem

In order for manufacturers to succeed and grow, senior leadership in every aspect of the business will need to be involved rather than the challenge resting solely on the human resources department. The war for talent will require companies to be proactive and aggressive in their approach to attract and retain valuable employees. One way company leaders can get involved is by supporting state initiatives like the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council or getSTEM of Minnesota.

CATEGORIES: Manufacturing & Distribution
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