Attracting and keeping your workers: It's about more than just money

By Jim Vinoski for Forbes

Sep 13, 2018

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There's growing concern in the manufacturing world regarding worker recruitment and retention. As Baby Boomers retire and US manufacturing reckons with its strongest market demand in decades, attracting new workers and keeping existing ones become ever bigger priorities.

These questions get to one of the challenging facts about the problem: money. Average manufacturing pay is already 20% higher than that in other industries. Companies, especially public corporations, are under the gun to increase margin, so as Ponatoski said, there's no room in budgets for big increases. And overseas competition hasn't gone away. Offshoring has retreated for now as international pay scales have risen, but there's still a colossal pool of workers in other countries where wages remain substantially lower, and where many of our costly domestic safety and environmental regulations don't apply. Over the long haul, this will become a fundamental conundrum for our society: how do we get manufacturing jobs back in the US, if we force unsustainable costs on employers with taxes and the regulatory burden? You may not like it, but the marketplace will dictate that overpriced workers will see their jobs either automated away or sent to a less costly source of labor.

That being said, money isn't the only driver of worker decision-making. Fiona Appleton-Thorn, a headhunter with Executive Alliance - Tampa focusing on manufacturing and engineering personnel, says, "Initially you may think that this is directly related to their pay scale. I can tell you that it's not that simple. If I had a dollar for every inquirer that tells me that they would take a pay cut for the right opportunity, I wouldn't be doing this now." As a result, she offers services beyond regular recruitment, working with clients on other ways of improving their existing retention efforts to show employees that they're valued. This kind of planning doesn't just include paid time off and slow release benefits, but ways to give recognition and improve the work life balance.

To learn more, read "Today's Manufacturing Workers Want Just A Little Bit More" from Forbes.