4 Ways to Reduce Turnover in Manufacturing

In today’s tight job market, finding skilled workers means competing against other organizations across a variety of industries. According to the Manufacturer’s Alliance, companies’ turnover rates have worsened over the last three years, with 40% of those seeing rates over 10% in the U.S. Workers have more employment choices than ever which means organizations must be intentional in their approach to all things people. 

The key to reducing turnover in manufacturing lies not only in adjusting recruitment practices but also in connecting in a consistent and positive manner with existing employees to provide an employment experience that makes them feel valued and appreciated. Whether your firm has outgrown its current HR strategies or simply seeks to connect more deeply with a diverse workforce, these four approaches can help reduce employee turnover in manufacturing.

Embrace your diverse workforce

If your organization is not embracing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), now is the time. The Manufacturer’s Alliance reports that over 65% of employees across all industries are of the opinion that their managers do not currently foster an inclusive environment. However, with an expected global DEI market of $15.4B by 2026, corporations are expected to invest heavily in this space.

Developing people-forward initiatives that embrace all types of workers is essential to business success. While recruitment of women, minorities and people of color has continued to grow, there also exists opportunity to expand diversity — and reach — by embracing additional marginalized communities such as LGBQT and those with disabilities.

Consider implementing a Chief Diversity Officer who can build a DEI strategy into your mission and vision as well as coach both executives and middle management on overcoming explicit bias and reevaluating hiring and onboarding practices. By designing this position to report directly to the CEO, you will begin to build DEI into the organization’s culture and better capitalize on a broad workforce.

Invest in your employees

Every organization has a pool of talented individuals who can quickly become regretted losses if they are not engaged with the skills, knowledge and appreciation they crave. Whether it’s regular continuing education programs, cross-training or a mentorship opportunity, providing workers with paths for career development not only reduces skill gaps, it helps to retain workers who are eager for the opportunity to learn and grow while making them feel connected to the organization and the industry at large. To understand and quantify their employee’s satisfaction, manufacturing HR teams are adopting employee engagement surveys to get a live look at how engaged their workforce is. Engagement surveys can help keep a finger on the pulse of your workforce and gather insights on where to focus your efforts.

Investing in manufacturing employees might also include additional paid time off or other perks for workers who are embarking on voluntary training or regularly picking up extra shifts. Recognize that they are going the extra mile and help to combat burnout. Highlight good work at company meetings or with a simple thank you card. Offer a reward system for particular milestones. In other words, ensure that those workers who deserve it are seen and recognized on a consistent basis.

Lastly, manufacturing is a physically demanding job. Ease the long shifts by providing workers with ergonomically correct, adjustable or mobile-powered workstations as well as anti-fatigue mats. Make the breakroom a comfortable place to relax and recharge and encourage its use. Even small changes such as this can help to create an atmosphere in which workers want to continue their career. 

Implement tools to engage workers

Growth and recognition mean something different to everyone, so taking the time to hear directly from employees is important. However, it is not always feasible to sit down one-on-one in a manufacturing environment where time and safety take priority. Thankfully, there are human resource tools that can facilitate the process, allowing you to ask workers exactly what they want, need and are missing in the workplace.

Specifically, leveraging engagement surveys and the resulting data help to keep a pulse on employee satisfaction and happiness. For starters, strive to understand the real reason why employees leave with exit interview surveys. These simple and targeted questionnaires help to identify patterns that are the root cause of turnover so that you can address issues prompting workers to leave. After all, if you don’t measure it, it won’t improve. Discovering the truth behind why people leave is crucial to effecting positive change, increasing retention and mitigating the costs of turnover. 

Once you have an understanding of why people are leaving and can institute measures to address it, stay interviews provide a more proactive approach to help you check in with the current workforce, learn what they value and gain insight into current culture. The results can immediately drive efforts to support them while fostering growth, performance, and retention. 

To increase honest and accurate feedback, consider having a third-party implement the exit interview surveys. Additionally, for the most accurate data, it’s important to hear from and listen to all of your employees who may span a variety of locations and languages. People Element offers both outbound survey calling in multiple languages as well as templated surveys in hundreds of languages to collect important data across a diverse workforce.

Ease the HR burden by levering automation and analytics

Within the manufacturing industry, high demands in quality, quantity and customer service can be challenging, but so too is retaining talent. The Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness shares that the industry is one of the top four hit hard by turnover, causing millions of dollars in losses. Disengaged employees are less productive, period.

To circumvent this issue, manufacturers must make a concerted effort to embrace diversity, invest in employees and engage their entire workforce. Doing so can create a culture that defies the industry norm, attracting and retaining a workforce that is happy, productive and motivated to stay in the industry — and your organization. 

Adopting an employee experience platform like People Element gives you access to automated tools and analytics that help paint an accurate picture of workforce health, sparking change that can ease the labor shortage within the manufacturing industry while transforming an organization’s trajectory. After all, happy employees help to uphold an organization’s financial, quality control and customer service goals. To learn more about how you can reduce turnover in manufacturing organizations and other HR tips, download our Manufacturing Labor Shortage Report.

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