How content are you in your job?

Plant Services' 2018 Workforce Survey finds the answer is "mostly," with some reservations, according to Thomas Wilk.

By Thomas Wilk, editor in chief

The results of the 2018 Plant Services Workforce Survey are in, and you know what? Despite the scope and variety of challenges facing you and your facilities, I have to admit, you are a fairly content bunch.

The survey data indicate that you’re increasingly tackling work outside of your immediate job responsibilities, you’re still being challenged to fill open technical positions, and you’re not convinced that the latest condition monitoring and asset management technologies are going to make a significant difference in your professional lives.

However, the survey picks up on the optimism you have about your jobs. It may be a slightly weary optimism, given that the share of respondents who said they are doing work outside their job description jumped 10 percentage points from last year. But it is real.

This month’s cover story is written by managing editor Christine LaFave Grace, who notes that the labor pains felt my so many people can be best understood as growing pains rather than as fatal injuries. This conclusion is supported by feedback on the survey data from key industry figures – people who also articulated the rollover effects that have emerged as a result of too many open positions. These effects range from delayed CapEx expenditures – why buy new machines with no one to run them? – to an overreliance on hiring applicants who may have hard skills but lack critical softer (i.e., people) skills.

LaFave Grace’s cover story is complemented this month by several columnists and contributors:

  • In “Human Capital,” Tom Moriarty argues that respect for self is a precondition for respecting others as well as your work;
  • In “Palmer’s Planning Corner,” Doc Palmer sketches out how a supervisor might balance planning, scheduling, and coaching to reduce work stress across her front-line team;
  • In “Asset Manager,” David Berger reminds us that culture is often the greatest impediment to a successful continuous improvement program;
  • Finally, in this month’s “Big Picture Interview,” the president of Jane Addams Resource Corp. reminds us that to remain relevant where you work, you should be constantly retraining yourself.

Some additional data points jumped out to me this year, especially two demographic shifts: the number of women taking our survey nearly tripled versus 2017, and the number of Millennials increased by 50%. If you’re a Boomer reading this, you’re officially in the minority of respondents, as more than 54% were Millennials and Gen Xers.

Also, fewer of you this year are confident that your company knows the skills required to compete – 58% this year vs. 66% in 2017. However, nearly 80% of respondents admitted a guarded optimism that, when it comes to handling challenges, your company is performing fair to partly cloudy at worst.

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