Manufacturers Must Explore Workforce Optimization
As of September 2022, the United States had roughly 11 million job openings. Unfortunately, labor unemployment data shows fewer than 6 million qualified workers available to fill them. This disparity is even more pronounced in the manufacturing industry, where labor continues to be the foremost challenge for producers. Employment numbers are down over the last month, exacerbating an already debilitating lack of workers.
With no good answer in front of them, many manufacturers are pivoting. While they’re still seeking qualified candidates to fill open positions, they’re also turning their attention to workforce optimization efforts.
A viable solution: Work smarter, not harder
Many major companies say that finding the right talent is much harder now than in pre-pandemic days. Manufacturing executives report they can’t find the talent to fill even high-paying, entry-level roles, let alone skilled workers for more specialized positions.
This dearth of labor is putting producers in a position to see talent as an obstacle, rather than an asset — a concept that’s detrimental for both culture and productivity. Thankfully, some manufacturers are rejecting this negative stance and, instead, choosing to embrace a creative solution. They’re optimizing their workforce: doing more with less.
Using data-backed strategies and methods to improve organizational efficiency and reduce operational costs, manufacturers who are committed to optimizing talent are finding ample opportunities to streamline processes across the factory floor. When implemented correctly, workforce optimization helps cover the labor gap in the manufacturing sector while also boosting productivity and profits.
Methods of workforce optimization
How are producers optimizing their workforce? There are several strategies and investments that can ease the burden of a historic labor shortage. Here’s what manufacturers are doing to keep production online amid a difficult hiring environment:
- Upskilling: Manufacturers can evaluate an employee’s existing skills and help them learn new ones so they can advance in their current role. From refining soft skills or teaching new technical skills, upskilling helps producers fill workplace gaps where needed.
- Reskilling: Manufacturers reskill their existing workforce to help employees transition to new roles. Reskilling is cost effective and can boost productivity without a huge financial investment.
- Cross-training: Cross-training gives manufacturers greater flexibility to keep producing, regardless of which operators are on the line. It adds more skills to the factory floor so companies can better leverage a broader pool of capabilities in a dynamic and flexible way.
- Automating: Forward-thinking companies are investing in automation to save time, reduce errors, and take production to new levels. Process automation tools and technologies don’t need time off, making 24/7 operations more efficient. Moreover, these tools aid team members in working more efficiently whenever there are gaps in staffing.
Reinvestments for a more capable workforce
While the labor gap isn’t a new problem for manufacturers, increasing demand for production and economic headwinds make the task of recruiting and retaining skilled employees more challenging than ever. As producers look outside their facilities to attract new talent, they also need to optimize and reinvest in their current workforce, providing them with the tools they need to work smarter, not harder.