Many workers see manufacturing roles as long-time careers — something they can grow into, get better at and maybe even hand down to their children. Others, however, see manufacturing work as nothing more than a temporary job, which means they'll be more likely to leave if things aren't quite perfect.
To encourage your staff to see their work as a career, not just a job, there are some important things you can do. Here are a few tips for helping workers feel confident about their place in your company:
1) Reimagine manufacturing roles and positions
As the manufacturing industry shifts in response to consumer demand, world events and more, it's critical to stay relevant — both to your business partners and your employees. If workers feel you're falling behind the times, they may view their roles as stepping-stones on the path to their real careers.
According to Deloitte, "reimagining manufacturing jobs" may not just be a smart move going forward; instead, it may be absolutely necessary. For example, consider automating certain tasks and shifting role responsibilities so employees feel like they're doing more impactful work. You can also take advantage of digital tools to give staff new ways of engaging their skills to meet your needs.
2) Provide personal and professional growth opportunities
Manufacturing employees don't want to feel they've become stagnant. To keep them from moving on to something they see as "bigger and better," give them the chance to grow right where they are. Depending on their role and position in the company, these opportunities can take different forms — for example, leadership courses or the chance to manage a certain project. You can also provide feedback on their performance to encourage them to tackle their weaknesses while celebrating their strengths.
While helping your workers become better at their jobs, don't forget to help them grow as people, too. Encourage interpersonal skills, company-sponsored charity projects and other elements of a well-rounded individual.
3) Create a positive work environment
When employees can walk out the door and leave their manufacturing teams feeling like nothing has changed, it's easy for your whole staff to believe their roles are temporary. You shouldn't let every departure ruin your efficiency, but you also shouldn't let workers — especially long-time team members — retire or resign without at least acknowledging the gap they'll leave behind. This helps employees see you're invested in each of them for the long haul.
4) Treat every worker like an essential worker
According to guidance released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, many manufacturing workers were considered essential during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. These individuals were responsible for creating and distributing some of the items most important to everyday life.
As the working world continues to change and evolve, keep the spirit of the "essential worker" alive. Treat every employee as a critical member of your team — as if your manufacturing organization, and maybe the world overall, wouldn't succeed without them. When effort and dedication are recognized, addressed and appreciated, staff feel like they've chosen a career path, not just a temporary job.