Retaining manufacturing employees requires patience, awareness and a little bit of creativity. To keep your team strong and loyal, you'll need to find out what motivates them — so here are a few retention tips custom-made for manufacturing.
1) Know who works for you — and what they want.
You don't have to know all of your employees personally, especially if you have a huge workforce — but it's still important to understand the types of people who are on your teams. Once you know where they come from and what they're looking for, it's much easier to create a work environment that caters to their needs. For example, according to IndustryWeek, one of the best ways to retain moms in manufacturing is to offer flexible work hours that can coexist with kids' school schedules.
2) Make your workplace inspiring.
If employees feel like their work life is all about "the daily grind," they could grow bored and might be more likely to seek out new opportunities. To keep them interested, make sure your workplace is inspiring — not just in the way tasks are completed, but in the way people work together, support each other and develop their own skills. Show employees that your company isn't just about work, but making work meaningful.
3) Let employees shine in unique ways.
According to SHRM, one of the best ways to retain employees is to engage them as people. That means giving them opportunities to bring all of their skills to the workplace — even those that may not traditionally fit in the manufacturing world. All you have to do is find creative ways to utilize those skills and then encourage workers to apply themselves. For example, if one of your employees loves working with kids, you could put that employee in charge of organizing a "take your child to work" day or an outreach program with a local high school.
4) Add a little fun to the day-to-day.
A company that celebrates the fun in everyday work is much more likely to hold on to loyal, skilled and creative employees. To do that, take advantage of the things that make your workplace unique — for example, get employees involved in friendly competitions that encourage team-building without impacting productivity (or, ideally, improving it).
5) Don't get stagnant.
The same tools, tasks and procedures can make manufacturing employees want a change of pace. To keep them at your company, try giving them that change in their existing role — for example, by implementing new technology or giving them new responsibilities.
6) Develop trust at every level.
Employees need to be able to trust each other, their direct managers and the company's leaders. Building that trust requires transparency, honesty and visible responses to issues or feedback.
7) Encourage open communication.
Open communication doesn't just make employees feel heard and valued. It also gives you the opportunity to hear first-hand what might be bothering them — and why they might consider taking a different position. Use this as an opportunity to build your retention strategies around your unique team and culture.
8) Don't spend all your time catering to new talent.
If you're already seeing high turnover rates, it may be tempting to focus your energy on hiring new manufacturing workers. However, one of the best ways to attract job seekers is to show them that you take care of your employees — so don't spend so much time on wishful thinking that you forget what you already have.