When it comes to manufacturing, hiring skilled labor has never been so difficult. The world is changing, but so is the workforce: Millennials officially passed baby boomers as the largest generation in the world, according to Pew Research Center.
Despite a growing demographic of potential employees, manufacturers are struggling to hire their next generation of workers. After a tough couple of years battling supply chain and pandemic-related disruptions, organizations now face unprecedented labor shortages. Indeed, manufacturers just can't catch a break.
To mitigate their struggle, it's imperative that manufacturers understand the subtle differences between generations of workers. Here are four generational factors that impact recruitment:
1. The driving force of technology
As two of the first generations to grow up alongside the digital revolution, both millennials and Gen Z are native to the digital world. In turn, they embrace technology like no other demographic in the workplace. In fact, over 90% of millennials own smartphones, while baby boomers trail farther behind, according to a 2019 report from Pew Research Center.
Thus, it's important for manufacturers to tailor their recruitment efforts in a digital fashion. Reaching Gen Z and millennial candidates where they're most accessible (i.e. their mobile devices) is a big step toward currying favor. Better yet, recruiters should emphasize the cutting-edge nature of manufacturing technology as one of the industry's biggest benefits.
2. Work/life balance
The newer generations of workers are making their mental health a priority like never before. In fact, both millennials and Gen Z put a premium on work/life balance, according to Purdue. Both of these two younger generations are characterized by an interest in immediate feedback, flexible scheduling and independence.
To attract such candidates, manufacturers need a solid burnout prevention program that ensures those needs are met by the workplace. Younger workers are much more conscious of their mental wellbeing than generations past and are raising the bar for their employers.
3. Positive company culture
Increasingly important to Gen Z workers is a positive company culture. They want to know that when they go to work each day, they'll be supported by an organization that has their back. More pressing, of course, is that their organization listens to their concerns and responds accordingly.
Manufacturers should take stock of their company culture. Are you communicating enough with your staff? Are managers accessible to employees? When problems do arise, are they dealt with reasonably and quickly?
Answering questions like these will go a long way toward building a positive company culture. More importantly, it'll prove to candidates that you take their career seriously.
4. The more things change, the more they stay the same
Of course, every generation has its differences. They also have plenty of similarities, too. Those factors are equally important for manufacturers to consider.
Almost universally, workers of every generation value professional development. Leaning on your company's best examples of growth can prove to candidates of any age that you value it just the same. In turn, you just may be securing the next generation of skilled manufacturers.