Production Machining

NOV 2017

Production Machining - Your access to the precision machining industrial buyer.

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Page 20 of 63 :: 19 Helping Precision Machine Shops Be More ProducĂč ve and Profi table Workforce Development Helping You To Meet Your Workforce Challenges Training the Next Generation: Thinking About New Employee Outreach from the Shop's Perspective By Scott Wiltsie, HR Manager, Vanamatic Co. We are all defi nitely faced with a chal- lenge regarding today's new workforce. One thing is for sure, the same old practices, operations, expectations and training systems just won't cut it when it comes to attracting, developing and re- taining younger talent for our shops. We all need to think outside the box about our company culture, training systems, operational strategies and re- lationships with high schools and voca- tional institutions. I know there is a ton of work being done by the membership and that is a great start. Here are some other things to think about that we have found to be helpful. Self-Directed Work Teams and Flexible Operations The new generation of worker now ex- pects to have a work-life balance and expects an employer to offer that. Tradi- tional fi xed start and end times with lit- tle fl exibility or openness to outside fac- tors usually results in poor attendance, loss of focus and unwillingness to stick it out. Micromanaging is the quickest way to get younger folks to fl ee your shop. These systems take work, but are well worth the investment as it defi nitely leads to a more empowered employer with work/life fl exibility. Streamlined Training Processes Many shops expect candidates to have all the skills and knowledge to come in on day one and get started, but it is just not realistic. Our industry is moving at a pace much faster than any education- al institution can deal with. Creating a streamlined and effective training struc- ture that rewards performance frequent- ly (two to three months) at a time is the best way to keep them engaged. If it drags on for extended periods of time with no performance feedback or up- ward mobility, they will quickly lose in- terest. Defi ned levels of training spread out over nine to 12 months keeps them rewarded and engaged and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Training should include not only on-the-job tech- nical skills, but business involvement sessions. We fi nd that when new em- ployees feel engaged in the entire busi- ness, they tend to feel more invested. In addition, training never ends, and when it does, so does the employee's interest. This is defi nitely a challenge. Vocational Schools and High Schools Many of us can't create a full-time feeder system hiring new full-time em- ployees all the time. What we can do is create a part-time or apprentice re- lationship with these institutions. Kids that look for part-time jobs while at- tending high school or kids looking for 20 to 30 hours per week while attend- ing a local college or technical school. We carry up to 10 to 16 of these posi- tions year-round just to introduce kids to our industry and the work. We have little or no expectation that after grad- uation they may want to work here full- time, but there are cases where this happens, and it gives us one to two years to develop and watch their po- tential before we invest. Reach out to these institutions if you can and try developing a relationship. It provides marketing for your com- pany, and if your structure allows for part-time employment, it gets younger folks in your door and exposes them to our industry. You can learn a lot from them, what they look for, what they want and how they work. We employ all of these strategies and still see signifi cant challenges as most shops do. Those who are not progres- sive and thinking outside the box will likely face more challenges. Our new hire retention was in the 80 to 90 per- cent range 10 years ago. Over the last fi ve years, it is down to 60 to 70 per- cent. Our historic turnover percentage was around 6.5 percent, but it is now up in the 10 to 15 percent range. Employee Engagement We can't stress this enough. If you are not communicating, engaging and chal- lenging your employees, especially the younger ones, on a daily or even weekly basis, they tend to feel they are only a number. Shops that engage, develop and challenge create an X-factor that is hard to measure. The employees feel part of something and this innate feel- ing tends to keep them around a little longer or prevents them from jumping for a little extra money because the oth- er company does not offer that.

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