Workforce Development

Workforce management: When money comes in 2nd

Thomas Wilk asks what matters most to your team? Are you sure about that?

By Thomas Wilk, editor in chief

How many jobs have you held in your career? And would you go back if you could?

The first job that I ever held was at a supermarket, during my last two years of high school. The first year there, I bagged groceries and pushed empty carts from the parking lot back to the store, and the second year I stocked the frozen and dairy cases. Along the way I learned a little about loss prevention, and a lot about how to get the scent of milk out of your work clothes.

I got to work there until it was time to leave for college three hours away, and I recently reconnected with my first-ever boss, who has stayed with the company for more than 30 years. It’s a good company whose leaders inspire their teams.

On the other hand, there was the copy-shop job, the only job that I ever quit. That decision had nothing to do with the work and everything to do with the tone set by the managers – one manager in particular. (It’s always one in particular, right?) The tone was clear by the end of the first week, and I think I lasted eight weeks total until giving up on being able to change the culture there. But at least the door slammed nice and loud.

Our cover story this month reveals the findings from our most recent study, the 2019 Plant Services Workforce Survey. Managing editor Christine LaFave Grace is our resident workforce expert, and she has once again sifted through the data to identify the key trends emerging from this year’s data set.

Top among them is her observation that attitudes toward workplace culture, including overtime and burnout, differ widely across generations. For example, 80% of Millennial respondents said that satisfaction with workplace culture was the leading factor in determining whether to stay or go at a given job in our industry, and more than half of respondents also considered burnout to be a potential issue. Companies that are looking ahead at training the next generation of leaders should take a close look at these data and at similar workforce studies, and make sure they know what motivates their future leaders.

In this issue we’ve also collected a wide range of perspectives on how the maintenance and reliability industry is changing. In Technology Toolbox, Sheila Kennedy reviews the kinds of augmented and virtual reality technologies that are changing the face of industrial training, and Tom Moriarty weighs in with a feature-length article on how productive leadership can help facilitate workplace culture change. There’s even an article on how to manage the AIs at your facility, because even now they still can’t manage themselves (yet). And our friend Mike Macsisak joins us for a new interview, taking a look at how the same types of changes in MRO work are occurring across all verticals.

As for me, despite the occasional job change, the copy-shop job is still the only job I look back on with zero feelings of nostalgia. I’ve been lucky in work, and I hope you’ve been lucky, too.