Manufacturers expect a large number of temporary and seasonal workers to join the workforce throughout the year, especially during peak production seasons like the winter holidays.But what if your regular workforce was also becoming more temporary?
Within the last decade, we’ve seen that the millennial and post-millennial generations that are quickly filling the ranks of manufacturing jobs worldwide (they’ll have completely phased out Gen Xers by 2040) are prone to what we call job-hopping - defined as spending less than 2 years with a company
For a long time, employee loyalty has been something to be praised and expected. A worker would likely stay at an organization for as long as possible. Moving from job to job or “job hopping” was often seen as a negative quality on a resume.
But we’re quickly learning that these values don't necessarily translate to this younger workforce. In fact, the statistics are staggering.
- 60% of millennials say they’d be open to exploring new job opportunities
- 21% of millennials say they’ve switched jobs within the last year
- Only 29% of the millennial workforce reports feeling engaged with their current job
- Increase of 22% of millennials who are interested in job hopping
The companies that will thrive in the years to come will be those who can develop new solutions to capitalize on this tech-savvy workforce and invest in the training and onboarding solutions to handle employees who are inclined to leave sooner.
We’ve already explored how manufacturers can adjust their training and information design to better suit the learning styles and unique needs of the millennial workforce. However, more can be done to prepare your factory floor for the impact of a job hopping generation.
Why job hopping?
Why is it that a generation feels inclined to leave a job after one or two years? Is it how they were raised? The economy? Work ethic? There’s not a single, simple answer. But experts agree that it’s a combination of factors that contribute to modern industrial job hopping.
Ethical and Social reasons.
Many sources credit job hopping tendencies to an increased feeling of social responsibility. Raised in the era of the internet and smartphones, Millennials have a tendency to be skeptical of their employers and their values. If a company does not do enough to offer a diverse and socially responsible, they stand to lose the interest of their workforce. If the objectives of the work - or the processes used to accomplish them - don’t line up with the employee’s own moral compass, they’ll feel the need to move on.
While not solely motivated by higher salaries and better wages, many millennials do indeed leave to seek better pay or more lucrative benefits. Combined with the above factors regarding engagement, a competitive salary is often enough to motivate them to seek new opportunities.
Restlessness and curiosity.
Raised in an age of limitless information, the millennial generation is also likely to be curious about opportunities for new experiences and personal growth. If this growth and engagement doesn’t come from their current job, they’re likely to go looking for one that does. Millennials learn faster and have the capacity to process an incredible amount of information - it’s mutually beneficial to accommodate and capitalize on this skillset.
One thing we do know about this new workforce - they’re certainly not lazy. Many are quick to draw conclusions about millennials and their work ethic, but this generation actually works incredibly hard. 73% of Millennials and Post-Millennials actually work more than 40 hours a week. If companies can motivate them and create real value for them, they can increase their tenure while also harnessing the potential of a driven and motivated demographic.
For more information on how to engage and design for the millennial workforce, check here and here.
New strategies can protect your bottom line.
This is a trend that shows no signs of stopping. Today’s manufacturers should look at industrial job hopping not as a phenomenon that needs to be corrected, but as a reality of Industry 4.0 that will need to be proactively addressed.
Without any adjustments to our way of working, it quickly becomes clear that a job-hopping workforce can have a long-term negative impact on your bottom line.
New pressures on recruitment.
Higher turnover means that you’ll need to spend more time and resources sourcing qualified employees. This places a burden on HR teams and also strains existing recruitment budgets.
Increased training costs.
High turnover means more training, more often. New employees need to be carefully educated for their roles in production lines and in the field, and traditional training methods can take many months to bring a new recruit up to speed. In the meantime, your productivity and efficiency decreases due to an under-trained workforce.
Safety and product quality.
Safety on the shop floor, as well as efficiency and product quality, all rely on the assumption that the employees performing the tasks are well-trained and experienced. In fact, 85% of all manufacturing defects are caused by human error. A new and undertrained employee poses a serious risk not only to your bottom line, but to general employee safety as well.
Loss of knowledge and productivity.
As employees leave your workforce, they can often take crucial operational knowledge with them. High turnover rates mean potentially more knowledge lost, so systems need to be in place to continuously capture and evaluate this information as it’s used on the factory floor.
Impact on Culture.
Job hopping can have a negative impact on your company culture, too. If employees see their peers consistently leaving for “better” opportunities (whether that’s true or not), it can make them feel restless and dissatisfied in their own positions.
What can you do to future proof the manufacturing workforce?
So what’s next for manufacturers who want to future proof their operations against the high turnover posed by the millennial generation, as well as the challenges of industry 4.0?
Create meaningful, interesting tasks and give responsibility.
Give employees meaningful, real tasks from the beginning. The millennial worker is used to things happening quickly and is eager to make an impact. Tools like digital work instructions reduce time until productivity and allow users to learn by doing.
We know that younger generations are natural multitaskers with a lot to prove. Giving them more responsibility lets you capitalize on their capacity for complex roles, while delivering a feeling of accomplishment and efficacy to new employees.
As manufacturing processes become more digitized and complex, operators on the shop will need to perform a more diverse range of tasks throughout their daily routines. This is a great opportunity to give this tech-savvy new workforce a wide range of challenging and rewarding tasks - all supported by digital tools.
Better training and onboarding.
Embrace solutions that facilitate on-the-job learning. This is proven to both increase learning retention and decrease the time to productivity for new recruits. On-the-job training solutions also cut down on intensive (and often ineffective) classroom learning time.
Digital training solutions delivered to mobile devices capture the interest of a generation raised on technology. This can help make daily work feel more intuitive, engaging, and productive.
It’s also important to rethink the way we approach the onboarding strategy as a whole. Instead, we should approach onboarding from a holistic perspective and as an ongoing process that lasts throughout the employment of a shop floor worker.
Tools like digital work instructions also reduce the amount of paper used on traditional work instructions, helping modern manufacturers with their sustainability and CSR goals - something valued by the millennial workforce.
Agile solutions for a digital future.
The 2020 COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that it’s the manufacturing companies that can quickly embrace and implement new technology that will withstand the difficulties brought by new ways of working and a changing workforce. The onset of industry 4.0 and the age of the millennial workforce is no different.
As job hopping becomes more and more normal for employees in every industry, we’ll need to fundamentally rethink the way that we approach training to keep pace with the demands of a faster, tech-savvy, and less stable workforce. Digital solutions - just like they help cope with the demands of changing processes - can give manufacturers the agile and adaptable resources they need to capitalize on these opportunities.
For the millennial employee, this means a more rewarding, engaging, and productive position in the manufacturing industry - and one in which they’re likely to stay.