The Role of Retention and Culture in Driving Success in Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry is essential to global economies, producing a wide range of products that we rely on in our daily lives. But like any industry, it faces challenges, including employee retention and a positive work culture.

This is an issue for manufacturing leaders, who are concerned about the lack of retention. In this blog post, we’ll explore the significance of retention and culture in the manufacturing industry and discuss strategies to overcome these challenges and thrive.

The Significance of Retention in the Manufacturing Industry

Depending on the specific sector, manufacturing employees might perform various tasks and fill certain vital roles that require dedicated workers to fulfill their specific part in the creation of a product. That means that high employee turnover can be detrimental to manufacturing companies. Employee loss can lead to increased costs, decreased productivity, and loss of institutional and process knowledge, which is why it is so crucial to prioritize employee retention.

By retaining a stable workforce filled with happy and experienced workers, manufacturing companies can hire more employees, improve operational efficiency, maintain quality standards, and foster innovation.

RELATED: Top Skills to Look for in a Manufacturing Employee

 What Areas of the Manufacturing Industry Are Struggling to Retain Employees?

There is a huge expanse of manufacturers worldwide that need to retain dedicated employees. Here are a few types of manufacturers and their specific issues with employee retention.

Specialized Manufacturing Companies in Technology

Many of the companies that fall into this category include those in the technology or technology adjacent sector, such as aerospace, medical device, and chips and semiconductor manufacturing.

These high-tech industry positions require specific skills from experienced employees. The industries themselves face a shortage of qualified workers, making it essential to attract and retain experienced and knowledgeable workers. The CHIPS and Science Act is a good indicator of the critical need for workers in the semiconductor industry.

High-Volume Production Manufacturers

Many manufacturers fall under this category, engaging in high-volume production of primarily consumer goods, automotive parts, and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). These companies rely on efficient and experienced workers to meet high and time-sensitive production demands. Retaining skilled employees is crucial for maintaining peak production levels, ensuring consistent quality, and minimizing disruptions.

Custom Manufacturing

Custom manufacturing caters to unique and highly specialized client requirements and requests. It is defined by its agility and ability to design, engineer, and manufacture unique products intended for specific functions and requirements.

While custom manufacturing companies rely on automation to some degree, it is largely an area that relies on engineers, techs, and machinists who understand the specs and how to fabricate, inspect, test, and deliver products to the customer, providing quality assurance. There is also more interaction between members of the manufacturing team throughout the production process, making it beneficial to keep teams together through strong employee retention.

Advanced Technology Manufacturing

Advanced technology manufacturing (ATM) technologies have become a powerful force in the global manufacturing landscape. Similar to custom manufacturing, ATMs frequently allow for greater customization with new and emerging technologies like robotics, automation, 3D printing, and additive manufacturing.

For example, additive manufacturing technologies can produce prototypes and small batches of products for specific customers. This provides a highly personalized experience for customers, and while the 3D printers do a lot of the actual production via printing, the machines require talented and knowledgeable techs to operate them and work on them when in need of repair.

Similarly, robotics and automation require workers with a high degree of specialized knowledge, making it challenging to hire them, especially on a tight timeline.

Retaining employees with expertise in these areas is crucial to optimize productivity and adapt to these critical evolving technologies.

Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is an area that focuses on eliminating waste while maximizing efficiency. Businesses that rely on and implement lean manufacturing principles require a stable workforce to allow them to improve processes and drive continuous innovation and improvement. This is an area that relies on employees well-versed in lean practices, therefore making their retention important for these companies.

Text: Here's why the U.S. is investing so heavily in chips and semiconductors. Image: field service engineers in a fab.

Employee Retention and Culture within the Manufacturing Industry

The manufacturing industry is diverse and filled with unique offerings and personnel. However, the ideals and efforts to improve retention and culture for employees are largely universal.

Let’s look at some ways you can retain talented employees in your manufacturing company.

Put Leadership and Communication at the Forefront

Effective leaders promote transparency and open communication while providing guidance and encouraging employees to get involved. Strong communication helps employees understand the company’s mission, vision, values, and goals, giving them insight into what matters to the company and how their values align with those criteria.

Offer a Competitive Compensation and Benefits Package

Offering competitive benefits and performance-based incentives can attract and retain talented individuals since it shows that the employer values their skills, knowledge, time, commitment, and potential to grow and advance.

Provide Career Development and Growth Opportunities

This step is another way to show your commitment to and investment in employees. When you provide clear pathways for career advancement through training, professional development, and other educational programs, you let employees know you want them to stay with your company and grow with it.

Supply Work-Life Balance Initiatives

Manufacturing jobs often involve demanding schedules that include overnight shift work and extended hours. Adopting and implementing work-life balance initiatives like flexible scheduling options, family-friendly policies, and employee wellness programs can improve employee satisfaction and retention.

Support a Positive and Inclusive Work Environment

Creating a positive, inclusive, and connected work environment is essential for employee retention in manufacturing. When you foster a culture of respect, open communication, psychological safety, collaboration, and teamwork, you also create and foster a sense of belonging and employee satisfaction.

Great Culture and Retention Starts with the Right Talent

Hopefully, we’ve given you a good launch point to start your path toward powerful employee retention and culture in manufacturing. But to build a flourishing culture and improve your retention rates, you need the right employees. That’s where we come in.

Hire Manufacturing Talent with Insight Global

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