2016 Smart Manufacturing Summit: Solutions Exchange Takeaways and Best Practices

Manufacturing CEOs came together at the Smart Manufacturing Summit to discuss the challenges they face on a daily basis, including recruitment, automation and other systems advancement, such as Internet of Things, Robots and 3D, as well as ways to generate growth, including sales improvement strategies, lean, continuous improvement and more. Here are summary notes from these private meetings.


When recruiting talent, it’s important to develop an “Employee Value Proposition” for prospective candidates on why they should want to work for your company. To do this, you must be able to answer two critical questions:
• Why is your company great to work for, and
• Why will the job be great for the candidate

Once you’ve answered these questions you must be prepared to promote your company and your job opening(s). One great place to start is your company website. A review by NewHire of the websites of the companies represented at this year’s Smart Manufacturing Summit revealed mixed results.
• 73% of companies had an area devoted to job postings.
• However, only 48% of companies addressed why their company is great to work for and why the job opening(s) would be great for a candidate.

To attract talent, companies must think about and effectively communicate, “what’s in it for the candidate”.

Challenges in hiring, motivating and retaining millennial workers
CEOs uniformly expressed challenges and deep concern when it comes to hiring, motivating and retaining millennial talent for their companies. CEOs shared the following observations about their experiences with millennial workers.
• They become bored quickly and expect new assignments before mastering their current job.
• Millennials need constant feedback and praise to stay motivated on the job.
• They want instant gratification and lack a strong work ethic possessed by previous generations.
• Their work is not a priority to them, especially among 18-25 year olds.
• Absenteeism is high among millennial workers.
• They have difficulty adjusting to shift work and an 18-hour-day.

Strategies for successful millennial hiring and retention
Varieties of strategies are being employed by CEOs to achieve better outcomes when it comes to millennial hiring and retention and include the following:

Laying the groundwork
Work to change negative perceptions about manufacturing in your hiring pool communities and schools. Bring them to understand it can be a positive and beneficial career choice.
• Parents of millennials are critical influencers that need to be won over about manufacturing as viable and meaningful work. Educate them on the fact that manufacturing today is very different and more attractive than its past and can be a rewarding choice today.
• Engage administrators, faculty and counselors at the elementary, high school and community college levels to promote manufacturing as an attractive option. Work to influence their curriculum and vocational discussions to include manufacturing.
• Develop a strong “Employee Value Proposition” and invest in promoting it with a robust presence on your company website.

Recruit from backgrounds that suggest character, discipline and physicality have been an important part of their life experience, such as those who have:
– Served in the military where they received discipline and training
– Athletics where hard work and a competitive spirit are instilled and serve as intrinsic motivation
– In church and youth groups that promote positive values and attributes
• Use plant tours as a means to educate and expose candidates to the world of manufacturing so they get a sense of what to expect in terms of the work and environment.
• Consider using an outside recruiting/staffing firm that can specialize in your hiring needs. Their full-time expertise in recruitment, (i.e., assessment, evaluation and candidate pool), is often superior to any in-house program you can put in place.
• Cost savings and better hiring outcomes can be significant.
• Employ a temp-to-perm strategy as a means of trying out candidates to determine their ability to perform on the job and integrate into company culture.
• Manage millennial worker’s expectations. Many have never worked an 8-hour-day and can be shocked by the experience. Be honest and open with them—have the conversation.

• Assign a mentor or “buddy” to your new employees—someone with enough experience to show them the ropes and help them acclimate to their new environment, their work responsibilities and the company culture they have joined.
• Foster a competitive spirit among employees across various work groups that recognizes excellence in performance. This can take the form of tracking, comparing and incentivizing for increments of time.
• Implement a perfect attendance award program to help mitigate absenteeism.
• Satisfy the millennial desire and need for recognition by giving them an upgraded job title. It will not cost your company anything additional to give a title upgrade and will provide them with a sense of making progress in the company.
• Discuss a 5-year-plan with your younger employees so they can envision a path forward inside your company that will keep them engaged.
• Make your work environment attractive and consider turning employee work stations into “luxury suites” that even customers might enjoy spending time in. Employees will feel better about themselves and their work in such surroundings.
• Let employees know their work is meaningful by demonstrating the value of their output to the end user. This can be done effectively through videos showing real-world application and feedback from satisfied customers.
• Prominently display your product to give employees a sense of pride in their work.

Retirees and succession planning
The retirement of highly skilled workers who have accumulated valuable intellectual capital poses a risk with a shortage of talent to replace them. To address this growing problem a succession strategy must be pursued to avoid dramatic losses in productivity and growth.
• Ask your pending retirees to identify the best candidates within the organization to fill their shoes when they leave. Their familiarity with the work and the individuals around them places them in an ideal position to offer excellent succession counsel.
• Make sure retirees carefully document everything connected with the details of their work, otherwise critical processes may be irretrievable and make transition painful in terms of lost time, productivity and ultimately revenue. Have them leave behind explicit instructions for those who follow. Be sure to safeguard this information so it is not lost.
• Push authority down to lower levels within your company to begin grooming successors capable of assuming more responsibility and making important decisions.

Key takeaways
• Developing an Employee Value Proposition and promote it via your website and external publicity initiatives.
• Place an emphasis on “what’s in it for the candidate.”
• Consider an outside staffing firm that specializes in recruitment to save time, money and produce better outcomes.
• Become an employer of choice based on your reputation and brand name.
• Work to change negative perceptions in key communities to make manufacturing a solid career choice.
• Paint a picture where employees can be in 5 years to keep them engaged and motivated.
• Plan ahead by building your talent pipeline today.

Thought leader: Chuck Smith, President, NewHire
73 W. Monroe, Chicago, IL 60603, 877-923-0054, [email protected]

Facilitator: Marshall Cooper, CEO, Chief Executive Group


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