Retaining good workers is a challenge that most industries and companies face to varying degrees. This has been noticeably the case in manufacturing in the last two years, where annual voluntary separation rates have reached nearly 40%. Rebuilding that workforce is costly when you factor in productivity losses, rework and overtime, which can lead to more turnover.
There are numerous ways to motivate workers, but by far the most effective way to retain employees is to hire the right people the first time. Here are some ways you can hone the recruiting process to help you hire people who want to be there, are driven to perform well and want to stay:
Revamp Your Current Recruiting Processes
Start with a Hiring Market Assessment. Arm yourself with a thorough understanding of the hiring market and roadblocks. Research incomes in the area; is manufacturing talent available and looking for work there? How much? What do wages and benefits look like at your competitors? Are you in the ballpark? Research or talk to local experts and even competitors, to find out what's working and not working. Understand the local roadblocks to hiring. Sometimes pay isn’t enough; what else can you offer? What is your selling point? What is your culture like?
Thoroughly Review Your Positioning. The next step is to make sure you are positioning the job well to candidates. Do you have accurate job descriptions? Are you clear about the equipment and skills required for each position? Are they agreed upon by your line supervisors? What training is available? Any disconnects with position expectations, tasks, or equipment used will contribute to turnover. Additionally, find out where your top performers are coming from and what can be learned from their success.
Never Stop Hunting Talent. Always be proactive in expanding your network, and approach it as a partnership rather than as a transaction. You want to hire the best people for the job for both the short and long term, so this is about building relationships and nurturing them over time. Eastridge sources high quality talent quickly because we are always hiring, even if there isn’t a position open. We stay in touch, and once the right position opens, we can select the best candidates from our existing talent pool.
Retention Strategies to Mention in Recruiting Conversations
Offer a Career Growth Path. The way you help employees develop professionally plays a large role in why they will decide to work for your company. It’s also a way to differentiate yourself from your competitors, so it should be discussed in your hiring conversations. Candidates who are interested in staying long term will ask about this.
Be Thorough about Onboarding. Ongoing skills building and management that welcomes feedback make your company more appealing to work for than your competitors. Examine your processes – do you have a 30-60-90 day plan to assimilate your new or existing employees into a new role? Consider assigning peer-to-peer mentors to help them throughout the course of their first 90 days to help them navigate the organization. Have a mechanism in place for staff to provide feedback and a safe way to be heard without retaliation.
At Eastridge, we offer a proprietary skills assessment for manufacturing talent through our GATE™ program, short for Gateway to Attaining Technical Experience. This program is tailored for each client, and assesses candidates for specific skills including repetitive motion, dexterity, complexity and attention to detail as well as the ability to follow directions, speed, ability to work with others, and their demonstrated commitment throughout the program. This program helps us match candidates with the right opportunities and is key to our high retention rates in manufacturing.
Nurture Employee Relationships. Treating employees with care matters. Simple things like thanking them on their first day, asking for feedback on the assignment, and asking what you can do to help with morale makes a difference. If you can, institute an employee recognition system and have a career growth plan in place. If employees are leaving, make sure your staffing partner is conducting exit interviews to find out why, and that they are rolling that information up to you in a useful way so you can spot the trends and address problems.
The best way to retain employees is to hire the right individual for the job from the start, and to continually nurture and incentivize that relationship over time. This is taking the long view with relationships, which has served Eastridge well. In fact, we are bringing back a client we had worked with in 2018, which still had 18 of the workers we had placed for entry level positions, all of whom had been promoted and moved up within the organization. This is a point of pride for me, and helps show the effectiveness of these retention strategies.