Keep Your Factory Running Smoothly During a Labor Shortage

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on labor availability. Many workers continue to fall ill. Countless others are finding working conditions increasingly unfavorable and opting to switch industries or leave the workforce altogether. As a result, more and more companies in the manufacturing sector are short on the workers they need to conduct business as usual.

But factory operators can pivot to function at least as effectively with a leaner workforce, and changing existing hiring practices can help employers attract new workers.

What are some of the industry’s top producers doing to respond to the labor shortage?

Involve your existing team

Employees who feel valued and heard are more likely to deliver a higher standard of excellence in their given role. One of the best ways to encourage this is to host an open forum for employees. Offer them a chance to voice their ideas about current company operations and new or innovative initiatives. Hosting open forums is an excellent way to discover great ideas and increase employee satisfaction.

Encourage collaboration

Encouraging employees to collaborate across business operations will help maximize productivity even during a labor shortage. Before starting a collaborative project, ensure each employee knows their part in the process. Efficient work distribution will ensure synergy and prevent overloading any single individual, thus avoiding bottlenecks and employee burnout.

Get down in the trenches

In tough times, manufacturing managers must lead from the front. And while this might not necessarily mean working a line shift, it does mean staying actively involved. Managers should work with employees on every project, and they should go beyond the “watchful eye” and provide a helping hand. Focus on projects that build momentum. An early win helps keep staff morale high.

Adjust your hiring practices

During a labor shortage, it’s important to hire qualified workers who will stick around, which may mean adjusting your hiring policies. For example, 37% of manufacturers surveyed by Ogletree Deakins said they’ve eliminated screening for marijuana in employee drug tests, 12% dispensed with pre-employment drug testing altogether, 20% lowered their experience standards, and 27% relaxed their education requirements.

Reevaluate compensation

Attracting quality workers usually starts with offering a fair salary. To attract more employees, some manufacturers are offering signing bonuses; others are awarding a bonus following completion of a probationary period. Many manufacturers are simply raising base salaries. Of the manufacturers surveyed by Ogletree Deakins, 56% reported increasing base wages by 1% to 5%, and 22% reported increasing them by 6% to 10%.

Work smarter to fill gaps

Whether you call the current shortage the “Big Quit” or the “Great Resignation,” it’s clear there are fewer available workers in the talent pool. Attracting and retaining employees means maintaining a positive workplace, and a place where people like to work is one where they’re likely to give their best effort.

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