Report: Manufacturers push COVID vaccinations but not mandates

Aug. 26, 2021
“Manufacturers should use these persistent challenges to take fresh looks at all aspects of their supply chain strategies."

While a slight majority (51%) of manufacturers encourage their employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine, only 2% said they require vaccinations and only 8% said they are incentivizing employees to get vaccinated, according to a new industry report from Sikich.

The Sikich Industry Pulse: Manufacturing and Distribution also found an increase in optimism among executives; more than 80% of respondents rated their optimism on business prospects over the next six months a seven or higher on a scale of 10, an increase from the survey Sikich conducted in March.

The increase in optimism comes amid continued supply chain challenges. Just under 50% of respondents reported being impacted by the global chip shortage. At the same time, manufacturers are making changes to alleviate supply chain interruptions—34% of respondents are manufacturing more products or components in the US and 18% are sourcing purchased materials from new countries.

“The pandemic’s impact on manufacturing supply chains continues to be felt, creating challenges and opportunities” said Jerry Murphy, partner-in-charge of Sikich’s manufacturing and distribution team. “Manufacturers should use these persistent challenges to take fresh looks at all aspects of their supply chain strategies, from raw materials and suppliers to technology solutions.”

Manufacturers pivot to digital channels to drive growth

Though a quarter of manufacturers surveyed said they are considering purchasing a competitor in the next 12 months, companies are also eyeing organic growth in the year ahead. The report found that 56% of companies plan to increase their digital marketing efforts. For example:

· 64% of respondents are investing in website upgrades

· 49% of respondents are investing in social-media marketing

· 37% of respondents are investing in search-engine optimization

“The pandemic has forced manufacturers and distributors to look beyond traditional sales channels, such as trade shows and face-to-face meetings,” said Cameron Petroff, senior managing director of The Agency at Sikich. “An embrace of digital channels can help manufacturers broaden the reach of their marketing messages, reach new customers efficiently and continue to engage existing customers.”

Continued focus on talent

Manufacturers and distributors are still competing in a war for talent, according to the report. On the shop floor, companies are offering wages and benefits well over minimum wage, with more than half of survey respondents (55%) offering total compensation packages between $40,000 and $60,000. Further, 12% of respondents offer compensation packages between $60,000 and $70,000, and 10% offer packages of $70,000 or higher.

“In addition to total compensation packages, employers can offer some low or no-cost benefits to stand out further in this competitive labor market,” said Dave McKeon, managing director of Sikich’s human capital management and payroll advisory team. “Some examples include childcare-referral services, vendor discounts, free company branded apparel, and low-cost supplemental programs like pet insurance or spousal life insurance.”

Sikich surveys manufacturers and distributors multiple times throughout the year on a range of business topics to create industry benchmark data. For this report, Sikich surveyed more than 150 executives from manufacturing and distribution companies across sectors including industrial equipment, wholesale and distribution, metal fabrication, food and beverage, apparel, footwear and textiles, and transportation.