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In case human resources weren’t challenging as it is, it takes it a notch higher in the manufacturing industry. The industry struggles with the preconceived notion that a manufacturing job is not ‘appealing’ or is rather ‘outdated’.

The manufacturing industry is the front runner in the economic boost of a country. However, the hiring reality doesn’t reflect that, so much so that 83% of manufacturers consider attracting and retaining talent as their top challenge.

This isn’t just about perception too. The challenge is also attributed to the rising competition and the lack of awareness of career opportunities in the industry.

As a result, attracting, engaging, and retaining employees in the manufacturing industry will have a very different road than other industries. So how do the leading manufacturing companies tackle these challenges and ensure success?

You’re about to find out.

How manufacturing industries are attracting employees?

Here are four effective ways with which manufacturing industries can attract employees.

1. Hiring diverse workers

The manufacturing industry was rather infamous for its lack of diversity in the workforce. A study by Deloitte shed light on the gender differences in the manufacturing sector. It reflected that women are 1.8 times more likely to leave the industry. And this is just one aspect of diversity. There were other issues pertaining to race, age, background, etc. The industry has witnessed how this lack of diversity has led to shortages of skilled workers.

Further analysis revealed that companies practicing diversity and encouraging inclusive environments are more likely going to have a stronger financial performance. For example, one company that has immensely included diversity in its workforce is The Hershey Company.

In the words of Alicia Petross, Chief Diversity Officer at Hershey's, “Diversity is an important element in inclusion — we want our workforce representation to mirror our consumer base.” Its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) agenda include increasing its workforce diversity: gains across Black (+7%), Latinx (+13%), and Asian (+3%) workforce segments.

2. Building positive perceptions

Changing a perspective is a hard responsibility. Many don’t even want to consider manufacturing as a career option simply because of its image of being inflexible or the lack of personal and monetary benefits. They also struggle with the image of being an unsafe and unhygienic environment to work in.

To overcome this barrier, manufacturing companies are targeting the local markets and engaging in effective communication to show the benefits and perks of working in manufacturing. They’re marketing them via career sites and social media to highlight the advanced technologies, competitive compensation, strong company culture, and how they’re putting safety and local communities first, etc.

Companies are also putting the focus on the diverse skill sets required to operate machinery rather than the physically demanding jobs. To show that they’re a great place helps a lot in building a positive outlook of the company and the working environment.

3. Investing in employee referrals

Recruitment is never a one-person job. It requires assistance and participation from different departments and current employees. Same works for the manufacturing industry as well which relies immensely on employee referrals.

Before implementing referrals, they’re cautious and sensitive about the location and the perks that would attract the employees. They’re also educating them on the existing vacancies and ensuring the referral process is easy to understand.

In order to encourage diversity in hiring, companies are leveraging employee referral programs to attract candidates from different backgrounds.

For example, Glowforge, a printer manufacturing company, offers $5000 for every referral hired from an underrepresented background. The industry achieves two objectives via this scheme. First, they can attract diverse employees with minimal effort. Secondly, they also prepare and encourage the existing employees to work with a diverse workforce.

4. Using automation

Manufacturing companies require a high volume of workers. With so many candidates to hire and little staff to qualify them for hiring purposes, it becomes necessary to include some means of automation in the process.

To optimize the process, companies are leveraging applicant tracking systems and bots. They help the companies support high-volume recruitment, source niche talent, and qualify the candidates based on their skill sets, backgrounds, and experience that eventually hastens the process. It saves ample time and resources for the company that it otherwise spends on manual hiring.

Automation also streamlines data collection which helps in figuring out candidate behavior and expectations. It also attracts the new generation into enrolling in a smart factory that is equipped with state-of-art technology and embraces digitalization.

How manufacturing industries are engaging employees?

Here are four effective ways of employee engagement in manufacturing industries.

1. Connecting employees to the big picture

Since workers in manufacturing work behind the scenes, they’re often disconnected from the bigger picture of the company's goals and objectives. To add to that, some manufacturing employees don’t feel like they can enact change and nothing kills their motivation like feeling their voice isn’t taken into account. When they’re this disassociated from the bigger picture, it leads to cynicism and a lack of emotional investment.

To do so, companies are engaging workers in thoughtful business challenges to offer solutions. Incentives are often talked about when we speak of engagement. But they don’t always have to be monetary. In this case, you need to provide an emotional incentive that encourages the workers to be more productive and connect with the company's goals.

2. Employee recognition

Who doesn’t like recognition for the good work they do? This works even better than the pay sometimes. In fact, research suggests that manufacturing workers who felt valued were more than four times as likely to report high levels of employee engagement (59% vs.13%) and less likely to say they feel stressed out on a typical workday (16% vs. 66%).

When we talk about changing perspectives, companies cannot take manufacturing employees for granted. To recognize employees, renowned companies are now leveraging employee recognition software to implement peer-to-peer recognition platforms, give shot-outs, and send appraisal emails to everyone in the team to highlight the good work and keep the workers’ spirits high.

They’re also holding employee-of-month meetings where everyone celebrates the winner. Focusing on the positive aspects of an employee helps them develop a positive perspective about the company and also increases their productivity and profits.

3. Implementing training and development programs

Any employee that steps into a company looks for compensation and growth in a manner that they can move up within the organization. Manufacturing companies also need to regularly upgrade employees’ knowledge of new safety rules and regulations for their well-being.

And this training ultimately improves their performance and helps you vouch for their productivity to other departments and end consumers. For example, logistics companies aiming for faster delivery and better customer experience extensively rely on workers' training and motivation at the micro fulfillment centers.

Implementing training and development programs at regular intervals increases engagement and helps with retention as well. Because a lack of engagement generally stems from the reason that workers don’t have growth opportunities or they don’t have the required skills to be ready for bigger roles.

4. Promote colleague engagement

The manufacturing sector can be quite a stoic and rough environment to be in. To change the trajectory of the manufacturing industry, companies have started encouraging employees to socialize with one another. They are creating an environment where employees are more comfortable being empathetic towards one another. This allows employees to reach out to their colleagues for any help which prevents accidents and fosters a more satisfying work environment.

For example, Shell’s oil rig workers were made to attend a seminar amid rising accidents. The company conducted sessions with respected leadership consultants where employees were encouraged to open up and talk about their personal experiences on the field with just the motive to get closer to one another. The sessions had a drastic impact on the employees, so much so, that the company's accident rate decreased by 84%, and worker productivity improved significantly.

Workshops are just one means to encourage engagement among employees. You can also take baby steps to encourage employees to interact. You can have ice-breaker sessions and activities, start meetings with informal chit-chat, and even allocate special interactive sessions. Once they develop work relationships on a slightly personal level, they will look forward to coming to work and be encouraged to stay.

Employee retention strategies in manufacturing industries

Here are 4 best employee retention strategies in the manufacturing sector.

1. Offer opportunities for growth

Manufacturing again has the image of having a lack of growth. And it’s understandable because it's hard to be engaged when you do the same repetitive tasks every day. To deal with it, manufacturing companies need to find out what their expectations are, and work on how they can achieve those through training and experience. This will help employees be committed from day one and over the long run, it builds loyalty, especially among a younger workforce.

To foster employee retention practices among tenured workers, companies are investing in developing their skill sets because they know it's what will keep the boat afloat. It shows that the companies care for the career of their employees and want them to climb up the ladder eventually within the company. The best way they’re doing this is by defining a clear career path for all employees from the moment they start to work. They’re using skill management software, offering opportunities for professional development, and even encouraging managers to check in about the long-term goals of their teams.

2. Define expectations from the beginning

Research shows that broken commitments are one of the primary reasons for quitting. This is why setting realistic goals and expectations from the very beginning becomes very necessary. Companies are taking note of this as broken promises ruin the trust and confidence that employees have in the company. Instead, they’re being more transparent about the work opportunities and company culture.

Have a strong onboarding process where employees get a detailed insight into how the company functions, who their team members are, what are the company policies, work-life balance, safety precautions, and so on. The more exact your onboarding process is, the more realistic expectation standards you’re setting.

3. Re-evaluating the company's work environment

Creating a hazard-free and rather workable environment for employees in manufacturing is not too much to ask for. It becomes all the more important since loud noises, unconventional temperatures, dusty or oily materials, and the conditions can get frustrating quite fast.

In such cases, companies are taking extra precautions to have cleaner and bigger breakrooms, and add fans or heaters for proper air circulation where employees can take a breather. Similarly, if you’re not providing the necessities to work and survive every day in a manufacturing facility, your employees will likely leave and never look back.

Companies are also re-evaluating the culture if needed. For example, do they encourage employees to take breaks? Do they provide free treats once in a while? Do they provide travel or insurance benefits? If companies are providing all the perks and showing that the employers care about their employees, the employees would give it a lot of thought before leaving.

4. Finding reasons for quitting

To retain, you first need to know why employees are quitting in the first place. To do so, companies are looking inside their firms to develop retention strategies rather than following a generic route from other industries to retain employees. And the best way to do that is by asking directly your employees.

Companies are leveraging exit surveys as the most common and effective form of gathering employee feedback related to turnover. Other common methods are annual satisfaction surveys, exit interviews, and stay studies. Regardless of what you eventually use, these methods will give data-driven insights into why employees want to leave or even why they’re staying.

Examples of companies in the manufacturing industry that are doing an awesome job in attracting & engaging employees

Here are the xamples of companies in the manufacturing industry that are doing an awesome job in attracting & engaging employees.


Nvidia is a known name in the graphic processing units and computer chips industry. The company is considered a benchmark in terms of encouraging employee engagement in the manufacturing sector. It regularly conducts activities for the same such as community outreach and team-building events to promote better working relationships and eliminate unhealthy competition. It also fosters a productive environment so that workers can hone their creative skills with adequate autonomy.

2. Stryker

The leading medical technology company is known to attract existing employees for new roles and provide opportunities in research and development, product management, and quality assurance. It also keeps its employees engaged with its amazing benefits such as comprehensive health coverage, tuition assistance, and a retirement savings plan.

3. Apple

Apple has created an innovation-oriented culture where it has transformed its units to better its human capital and promote team development. It builds engagement by making employees its biggest brand ambassadors and providing them with product benefits and discounts. It also offers free stock shares and grants to encourage them and enhance their creativity in the workplace.

4. General Electric

General Electric has brought about a lot of changes in its recruitment processes and has focused on creating a balanced recruitment strategy that encourages more women to apply. In one of its promotional videos, it announced GE’s goal of employing more than 20, 000 women in technical roles by 2020. It also places a lot of focus on employee engagement and development by providing tuition reimbursement and extensive training for employees to grow in their careers.

5. L’oreal

L’oreal created an employee value proposition filled by its current employees to attract new ones. The employee value proposition includes the values and culture that the company embodies and provides for its employees. The current employees concluded that L’oreal is an inspiring company, a school of excellence and working there is a thrilling experience. The result of this? Almost 70% of their LinkedIn followers are interested in applying for the company.

Finishing thoughts

Like most industries, employees are also the biggest asset in the manufacturing industry. But today’s workforce has a lot of options at their disposal. They have access to resources and connections that can easily help them land a good job in any other field.

As a result,  manufacturing companies are making special efforts to attract and retain these employees as manufacturing work environments often lead to high turnovers which you can take as an example.

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