By Debra Schug, communications manager for Simutech Multimedia
Congratulations are in order for PR people in the manufacturing industry. After years of battling the negative perception of the plant floor being a dark and dirty place, that narrative is changing.
According to a recent study conducted by West Monroe Partners, the majority of 18-40 year-olds polled in Minnesota view manufacturers as tech-savvy and tech-forward. Wow. Weren’t we all just screaming from the rooftops a few months ago that the modern factory floor is not your grandfather’s manufacturing facility?
Great news, right? Not so fast. The second part of that same poll reveals these next-gen workers also believe that automation will replace their jobs…that manufacturing is not a viable option for a long-term career.
We might be victims of our own success.
So, what to do? As they say, if you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation. In this case, the conversation might just need to be reframed. One way to do this is to understand what the younger generation is looking for in a career.
Millennials have different requirements for companies they want to work for and are looking for a purpose, not just a job. For them, what the company stands for is as important as what the company does. Having mission-driven manufacturing can be an attractive feature for top-talent.
If that is too much of a cultural change for your organization, perhaps a more feasible way to signal to Millennials that you are a forward-thinking business and offering them more than just a job is to display how you are investing in them. If they think manufacturing isn’t a viable career choice, then give them skills that will future-proof them on the factory floor. If advanced automation is scaring your workers, then provide them training on how to do deal with the changing manufacturing floor, such as instruction on troubleshooting PLCs and sensors.
Similarly, if your manufacturing plant is undergoing digital transformation, you are likely taking a critical look at the ways you’ve done business in the past. Is your training program one of these processes ripe for change?
Young workers are looking for a fun workplace. That doesn’t, necessarily, mean installing a foosball table in the break room. But a 3D-simulation training program using videogame-like experiences can signal to future personnel that your workplace is technologically advanced. That’s appealing.
The immersive, engaging nature of videogames make them a great tool for effective training. The more a gamer interacts with the game, the better the score. That should be the same outcome for a training program. The more interaction the trainer has with the materials, the better he or she performs.
Here’s one more nugget to consider about the next-generation workforce: they are more likely to turn down a job after they have accepted the initial offer. A new report by Randstad entitled “How Tech is Impacting the Workforce of Tomorrow” identifies this crucial time period as one that has a different meaning for Gen Zers and Millennials. Whereas older generations used this pre-position time to prepare for the job, young workers use this period to pause and reconsider their options.
Randstad recommends companies use their effective onboarding practices, which have shown to increase attraction, engagement and retention of employees, during this window between job offer and start date.
The world is changing. So is the future workforce. But by understanding what the next generation’s needs, your training and onboarding program can be a game changer…literally.