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Manufacturing a Perfect Marriage for Fractional HR Services

Manufacturing a Perfect Marriage for Fractional HR Services

HR Professional talking to manufacturing worker in front of equiptment

What are the top HR challenges for Manufacturing?

After two long years of the COVID pandemic, it seems we will finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. As U.S. health officials announce that we are “out of the pandemic phase”, most of us can return to our daily lives as we once knew them. What they haven’t warned us about is a new, worsening pandemic: stafflessness.

In July of 2019, 522,000 manufacturing jobs remained open.

“About 2.1 million manufacturing jobs are likely to be unfilled by 2030” says a report released by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute (MI). It also warns that such shortages could damage the U.S. economy by about $1Trillion.

Existing staffing issues within the manufacturing industry are being exacerbated. 

 “…Recruitment and retention of solid employees is just difficult… They’re not finding the right talent”, says Courtney Berg, founder of CourtSide Consulting. She feels that the priority should be in the hiring process.

Boomers are retiring, manufacturing companies need to re-strategize the recruitment process.

In the past, Baby Boomers have made up a large part of the manufacturing workforce (34%). As more and more are reaching retirement age, the industry feels the strain. They struggle to fill higher-paying and entry level positions that need skilled workers.

The influx of retirements make Millenials and Gen Z the targets to fill these openings. The problem is that old recruitment strategies have become out-of-touch.

36% of younger workers lack interest in the industry. Most assume that these kinds of positions are for those who didn’t pursue a college degree. This is a common misconception. Many of these jobs need some degree of higher education and even doctorate degrees.

What Can Manufacturers Do to Attract Employees?

Employees need flexibility.

Staffing issues in industries like manufacturing aren’t due to widespread illness. The pandemic has forced all of us to adjust our ways of living. Most notably, it’s made employees realize how much they value work-life balance.

Younger generations are looking for jobs that fit their lifestyle. Many don’t view manufacturing as an industry that allows for that kind of flexibility. For some industries, this means adjusting the workday. The traditional 9-5 no longer interests younger generations.

Employees want to feel at home.

The top priority for many Millennials and Gen Z is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

It’s not only younger workers that make this a priority. 76% of job seekers consider diversity to be an important factor, according to a survey by Glass Door. Meanwhile, 32% would not apply to a company that lacks diversity.

This is an important factor in curating a workspace that will make employees want to stay.

Employees need upward mobility.

Gen Z in particular is very interested in upward mobility within a company. Carolyn Lee, Executive Director of the Manufacturing Institute (MI), says

“You’re not necessarily choosing the thing you want to do forever, but you’re choosing where you want to start”. says Carolyn Lee, Executive Director of the Manufacturing Institute (MI).

     “I would be hard-pressed to find another sector that has as much upward mobility as we have in manufacturing.”

Enhancement in Training and Retraining

In an age where technological advancements happen often, retraining is essential.

In the past, manufacturers have been able to get away with a revolving door of employees. According to RecruiterBox, the average cost-per-hire in the manufacturing industry is $5,159.

Neglectfulness in training is no longer an option due to difficulty in staffing.

Workplace Culture and Employee/Manager Relationships

Employees most often leave their position due to a relationship with their manager. The assumption? The management is a direct reflection of the company.

While this isn’t always true, it highlights the importance of a thorough hiring process. Those in a management position must be equipped with management skills and be good trainers.

Managers must engage with their employees. Building relationships with their employees on a basis other than work is another good way to make employees feel cared for.

Many companies are finding that employees who are engaged are more likely to stay with their current employer.

So, what role should HR play in the manufacturing industry?

HR is essential in retaining the workforce. With record low staffing, their job has become especially important.

HR has hands in all the above areas. From hiring strategy to fostering a welcoming work environment through DE&I, HR does it all.

Training for manufacturing, continued education and career development, motivational speakers and benefits like tuition reimbursement are all ways in which HR can reduce the strain on the industry. However, 83 percent of employees find on-the-job training most effective in helping them perform well in their job, compared with classroom-based training, self-paced training (i.e., e-learning), and more

They show existing and incoming employees that they are a valuable asset to the business. It lets them know that their employer is willing to invest in them.

Clarity’s HR Pros Have Tips to help Manufacturers Combat Turnover

“Pick the Right People in the First Place”

Clarity encourages employers to put extra care into the recruitment process. The more time you spend with employees, the more they will be committed to success.

“Make Sure Your Compensation and Benefits Remain Competitive

In 2022, we recognize that this may push your bottom line in ways that might make you uncomfortable, it is important if retention is a priority.

Do annual analyses of your total compensation package to make sure it can still compete with other companies.

“Be Appreciative” to your manufacturing employees

Combatting Turnover with Clarity's HR PRos

Anything from flexibility with employees to appreciation programs, “thank you” goes a long way with employees and makes them feel taken care of. A good work culture goes a long way today. Need more ideas read our blog on How Empathy Impacts Work Performance HERE.

Conclusion:

Right now, we know it is a difficult to fill open positions in manufacturing. Making it even more important that these positions stay filled. In July 2019, there were 522,000 manufacturing job openings, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). today, we know that number has only climbed in 2022. Do you need help attracting top manufactucturing talent? Contact Clarity HR today.

Infographic text" Rethinking Recuritment" New Manufacturing Employees Need: Flexibility, Enhanced Training and Retraining, upward mobility, and to feel at home.U
HR people icons and Clarity HR logo representing HR trends

HR departments are given more and more responsibility each year, oftentimes with budgets that don’t match. This means HR teams must constantly seek ways to innovate and stay on top of trends if they want to compete in the marketplace, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

To that end, here are five HR trends to watch for in 2021. When reviewing them, employers should consider how their organizations may benefit by implementing similar strategies.

1. Employee Well-being

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the perception of what qualifies as a “safe and healthy” work environment. A couple years ago, any business with a wellness program may have fit that definition. And, even then, a company lacking those qualities wasn’t always a deal breaker for some employees.

Now, “safe and healthy” means something much different. In 2021, expect an increased focus on more rounded employee well-being. Baseline efforts will include safeguards against COVID-19, but many employers will likely go beyond illness prevention.

Already, some organizations have transitioned to a more holistic well-being approach, and others will undoubtedly follow suit. These initiatives examine the larger picture and aim to help employees better themselves, even outside the workplace. Efforts include mental health programs, dependent care assistance and flexible scheduling. Focusing on these areas can lead to healthier, happier and more productive employees.

2. Greater Inclusivity

While much of last year was defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant portion was also devoted to stemming racial inequity. Months-long protests forced a national conversation about diversity in the workplace and beyond. This prompted many businesses to make statements about committing to more diverse representation in their ranks.

While public statements and private company actions don’t always align, some workplaces are keeping good on their word. Notable efforts include consciously trying to diversify leadership, scrutinizing hiring processes to identify barriers to diversity and developing training to foster greater cultural and racial inclusivity. Employers can expect an uptick in these types of efforts in the new year.

3. Expanded Remote Work

Many businesses were forced to shut down or migrate to remote work during the pandemic. Now, even with a vaccine in sight, a large number of those employers will likely continue offering remote work opportunities. In fact, some tech giants like Twitter and Google have indicated workers may not be required to return to the office ever again.

This suggests remote work, at least part time, will remain for the foreseeable future. As such, employers should consider expanding their own remote opportunities, as applicable. This won’t be feasible in all situations, but it might be for some positions. Doing so will not only provide a safeguard against COVID-19, but it can also serve as a tantalizing recruitment perk. Moreover, remote positions give employers greater hiring flexibility, allowing them to expand talent pools to any area with an internet connection.

4. Increased Employee Monitoring

A natural counterpart to remote work is employee monitoring software. When a number of employees operate outside the workplace, employers sometimes need other ways to keep track of productivity. That’s where these tools come in.

Employee monitoring software is what it sounds like—software that tracks computer usage. Depending on the software, it might record and employee’s website traffic, app activity and time spent idle. Some solutions even give employers access to employees’ webcams.

While some of these monitoring capabilities may seem extreme, the demand for such tools has only increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That means employers with remote workers should consider whether monitoring software is right for them. Particularly, employers should weigh the need to manage workers against the consequences of infringing on employee privacy. In other words, a heavy hand in this area might actually breed more resentment than encourage productivity.

5. Reimagined Onboarding

Onboarding is yet another workplace facet that was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This critical process of hiring, training and welcoming new employees into an organization is one of the most important functions of HR. What was once a series of carefully outlined in-person meetings has now been upended.

Employers had to reimagine the onboarding process in 2020 and will likely continue adapting it in the new year. For many, this means transitioning to an entirely virtual onboarding process, while maintaining the same level of quality. Virtual onboarding may include remote meetings via webcams, online quizzes, video tutorials and other creative methods of educating new employees remotely. Even among employers that have reopened, developing these processes now will better position HR teams in the event of another COVID-19 wave and shutdowns.

Summary

COVID-19 affected nearly every workplace function last year, and that influence will linger into 2021 and beyond. Entire functions are being reimagined and reevaluated. Employers will need to adapt quickly if they want to compete in this innovative landscape. Reach out to Clarity HR for more guidance related to these and other workplace trends.

At the end of the calendar year, workplace holiday celebrations are an experience that many employees look forward to as a highlight of the season. These celebrations are often a long-standing tradition allowing employees to celebrate with their colleagues—and sometimes family and guests.

Woman participating in a virtual party on her laptop

However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are evaluating how to engage employees safely this holiday season. Employers find themselves tasked with deciding whether they should cancel, postpone or offer an amended celebration that prioritizes safety—with many choosing to offer a virtual holiday party.

Virtual holiday parties can help increase employee engagement—but also come with a set of challenges. In addition to concerns regarding the coronavirus, holiday events can carry a financial cost and create risks for organizations if employees participate in inappropriate behaviors. This article gives an overview of virtual holiday parties and offers ideas and considerations for employers planning a virtual celebration.

The State of Holiday Parties During the Coronavirus

According to firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. who conducts annual workplace holiday party surveys, most employers are either canceling their party altogether or hosting it virtually this holiday season. Their annual survey found that:

  • Twenty-three percent of organizations plan to host a year-end celebration in 2020, down from 76% in 2019.
  • Forty-four percent of organizations canceling holiday parties this year cite COVID-19 as the reason for canceling.
  • Seventy-four percent of those planning to offer a holiday party are doing so virtually.

These findings show that, while holiday parties are generally popular, employers are adapting to address current realities. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to offering a year-end celebration during the COVID-19 pandemic, and employers have a variety of options to engage their employees safely.

Considerations for Offering a Virtual Workplace Party

Holiday parties can impact employees in a variety of ways. Specifically, these events can boost:

  • Team chemistry and camaraderie
  • Employee motivation
  • Employee engagement

Additionally, holiday parties can give employees a break from the standard workday and even serve as an informal meeting to discuss next year’s goals and instill company values.

How an organization chooses to celebrate varies by workplace, but employers considering a virtual event may find that many of the shared experiences of a year-end celebration can take place in a remote environment.

Planning a Virtual Holiday Party

A virtual environment won’t always fully replicate the in-person experience that many employees have come to expect for celebrations. Despite this, with careful planning, employers can still plan a virtual event that satisfies employees. Similar to when planning an in-person celebration, there are steps employers will want to take, which include:

  • Establishing a budget for the event
  • Creating the event’s guest list, which may include:
    • All employees
    • A specific team, department or location
    • In some cases, family members or guests
  • Establishing and communicating expectations for employees, including appropriate behaviors and other related policies
  • Planning, promoting and hosting the event

Factors such as a budget and how you intend to engage employees may influence what type of celebration makes sense for your organization. Holiday celebrations often involve a variety of activities, and the good news is that many of these can be offered virtually via online platforms or video chat. Examples of virtual holiday celebrations include:

  • Virtual mixers designed for multiple conversations to take place at once, rather than one big video conference
  • Ugly sweater contest
  • Holiday karaoke
  • Gingerbread house building and decorating
  • Wine and cheese party
  • Online escape room
  • Trivia contest
  • Virtual gift exchange

These are some ideas for employers to consider and may require some advance planning. For example, in some cases, employers may choose to provide party supplies for the employee, which would require gathering and shipping those items to each employees’ home before the celebration. Or, employers may need to prepare a list of trivia questions or instructions for guided activities, such as the online escape room.

When it comes to planning for virtual holiday events, employers can consider planning the activity internally or using providers or vendors that specialize in event planning.

Alternative Methods for Recognizing Employees

Generally, holiday parties carry a cost, and diverting funds to throwing a celebration may not be an option, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although employees may be disappointed due to not being able to participate in a holiday party, employers can lift their spirits in other ways.

Many employees may appreciate a gift or form of recognition as a replacement for their prized holiday party. Alternative methods for recognizing employees can include:

  • Giving employees a holiday gift
  • Sponsoring employees to make a charitable gift
  • Recognizing each employee for their individual contributions

As many organizations encounter financial restraints, holiday celebrations are not a requirement by any means. However, it’s important to consider showing appreciation for employees in some way to boost engagement and morale.

Virtual Party Best Practices

Workplace holiday parties can present a host of liabilities for organizations each year. While virtual celebrations won’t take place at a physical venue, employers should still proceed cautiously. Employees joining an event remotely aren’t immune from engaging in inappropriate behaviors. Holiday parties can remain a risk for employers—but employers can mitigate undesirable outcomes by planning effectively. Best practices include:

  • Evaluating your policies—With an increased number of employees working remotely—and the holiday event taking place virtually as well—ensure your employee handbook addresses remote behaviors to help mitigate risks. Employees should have easy access to an employee handbook and all policies, and be aware that a holiday celebration is considered a workplace event, meaning that all behaviors are expected to comply with organizational policies.
  • Keeping holiday celebrations optional—Depending on an employee’s exemption status, they may need to be compensated for their time, leading to challenges for mandating their attendance at a virtual event. Additionally, while many employees will be excited about a celebration, others may feel differently. With this in mind, it may be easier to make attendance optional.
  • Keeping the celebration general—There is some debate over the appropriateness of observing one holiday over another. However, focusing on offering a broader “holiday party” while avoiding specific religious celebrations can be inclusive to employees of varying backgrounds and beliefs.
  • Setting expectations for behaviors—Unfortunately, many holiday parties can lead to inappropriate behaviors by attendees. Despite being remote, employers should be aware that consequential employee behaviors can also take place virtually. Employers can mitigate undesired behaviors by setting expectations for attendees. Be sure to include these expectations in the employee handbook and communicate them to employees.

These best practices help mitigate the risk of employees engaging in inappropriate behaviors and best ensure that employees have a positive experience.

Holiday Celebrations in Your Workplace

While holiday celebrations can positively impact a workplace culture—there is also a case for forgoing a celebration. In addition to safety concerns, these events may have a financial cost, and holiday parties can present risks for employers, such as employees engaging in inappropriate behaviors. While virtual events may be able to mitigate common concerns such as excessive alcohol consumption that can lead to inappropriate behaviors, employers should know that poor behaviors can also take place in the virtual environment.

Employers who typically host an annual celebration, but are choosing not to do so this year, should consider explaining to employees why throwing a holiday party isn’t feasible. While some employees will be disappointed in this decision, they’ll still appreciate the sincerity and transparency.

As the end of the year approaches, employers find themselves torn between postponing, canceling or hosting a holiday celebration using safe practices. Employers should consider what type of celebration makes sense for their organization, even if that means not having one this year.

For additional employee engagement resources, contact Clarity HR.

American Flag flying in front of the White House under Biden Administration

Each presidential transition brings changes to the HR landscape. When President Donald Trump took office in 2016, he overturned or revised many of his predecessor’s federal regulations, a common trend between administrations of opposing parties. It is also something likely to continue under President-elect Joe Biden.

With any legislative change—regardless of intent or outcome—employers must adapt quickly or risk penalties. This can mean redrafting internal policies, recategorizing workers, changing organizational priorities, rewriting employee handbooks and any other HR responsibility. Essentially, the more prepared an HR team is, the easier it will be for them to succeed in a changing landscape.

Some of the policies upon which Biden campaigned may not come to fruition. Moreover, wide-sweeping workplace changes may be stifled due to congressional gridlock, though Biden will retain the ability to affect change through executive orders.

However, thinking about these issues early can help inform operational planning and prevent last-minute scrambling when change arrives. To that end, this article discusses potential changes employers can expect during a Biden presidency.

Health Care

The Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Health care has been a particularly contentious topic for over a decade, ever since the ACA was introduced. Biden supports building off the ACA’s framework and intends to expand a public health option that’s similar to Medicare. Granted, an upcoming (at the time of this writing) Supreme Court case may significantly impact any efforts.

As things currently stand under Biden’s proposed model, the government’s offering would directly compete with insurance providers. The public option would also be available to anyone—even if their employers offer qualified-health plans. Specifics are unclear, but this indicates that small employers may be able to save money by having their workers rely on public health coverage (as opposed to offering it themselves).

Medicare

In addition to an expanded version of the ACA, President Biden also supports Medicare expansion. He proposes lowering the eligibility age to 60 (from 65). Since many employees delay their retirement until they are eligible for Medicare coverage, workers may start retiring earlier if this plan is enacted.

Labor Rules and the Future of Work

Biden is very pro-labor, as evidenced by his campaign platforms, and may return to Obama-era labor rules—many of which are viewed as burdens by employers. Specifically, Biden is in favor of a bill called the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

Among other things, the bill would limit which employees may be classified as independent contractors. It also includes provisions allowing employees to unionize more easily and expands the definition of “joint employer.” Such initiatives would have significant impacts on workers—especially in the current gig economy—and may force corporate restructuring for businesses such as Uber, Postmates and GrubHub. Endorsing such policies clearly outlines how Biden’s labor platform diverges with the Trump-era Department of Labor, which is to say a move that embraces workers more so than employers.

Paid Leave

Paid leave has historically been a priority for Biden during his political career. The president-elect is currently pushing for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Progressives want to expand that effort, in the form of the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act. The act would expand the qualified reasons for taking paid leave and opens eligibility to more workers. Biden supports many components of the act but hasn’t fully endorsed it. This indicates that some version of this legislation—namely, expanded paid leave—may come early during Biden’s administration.

Immigration

The Trump administration fought hard to limit immigration; Biden is likely to reverse many of those efforts. Some of the reversals may include reinstating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and allowing more green cards. More specifically, Biden wants to increase employment-based visas, which would pave the way toward citizenship by way of gainful employment.

Minimum Wage

Many states have started gradually increasing their minimum wages at the end of 2020, but not all of them. Biden wants to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026 and eliminate the tipped wage. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 and has historically only increased by a couple of dollars every two decades. This would be one of the most significant increases to the federal minimum wage in history.

Another significant impact would be the elimination of the tipped wage ($2.13 per hour). Currently, tipped employees earn a lower minimum wage (called a tip credit), but are expected to make up the difference with tips or be paid the remainder by their employer if they don’t make enough in tips. If Biden eliminates the tip credit, employers would have to start paying those employees significantly more money, which could lead to much higher labor costs.

Specifics of such an arrangement are unclear at this time, so it’s difficult to predict how this would impact employers. Namely, employers are currently unable to retain tips themselves—they all go to employees. If the tip credit is eliminated, such regulations might also be amended as a way to lower labor costs.

LGBTQ+ Rights

During his campaign, Biden said he intends to “end legal discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.” This typically includes reforming the treatment of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. Biden also supports efforts to increase data collection regarding violence against transgender people, who have been disproportionally victimized.

Cannabis Legalization

Over half of the country (35 states) now allows for the medical use of cannabis. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia allow for recreational use as well. While cannabis is still an illegal drug in the eyes of the federal government, states have continued to signal their willingness to cash in on this lucrative crop. In fact, as states rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in cannabis tax revenue each year, federal legalization seems more and more likely.

Biden falls short of endorsing federal legalization, but he has expressed an interest in decriminalization. During his campaign, he even talked about expunging prior cannabis convictions for individuals. In general, Democrats seem to favor more lax penalties for nonviolent drug offenders. This could signal how Biden will pursue this issue as well.

Employee Data Security

Data security has been a growing topic of concern over the last decade. Frequently, individuals are wanting more control over their personal data, and to know where it’s being sold. In 2018, California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which gives citizens the right to know what data businesses collect about them, delete some of that information, opt out of the sale of personal data and avoid discrimination as a result of exercising their CCPA rights. Experts predict Biden may seek to adopt similar protections on a federal level.

In fact, Democrats already introduced data privacy legislation in 2020, but it’s taken a back seat during the COVID-19 pandemic. This signals the direction Biden’s administration will go. Moreover, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris championed consumer privacy during her tenure as California’s attorney general and is likely to retain that stance.

If enacted, expanded consumer privacy legislation on a federal level may resemble something akin to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of Europe. This would mean a greater burden on employers to show data transparency with users and enable individuals to control more of their data. Such legislation would almost certainly come with penalties for noncompliance as well.

Summary

It’s impossible to predict exactly how a Biden presidency will impact HR teams. But, it’s still important to examine his platform and consider how employers may be affected by potential policy decisions. Doing so can help inform operational planning and prevent last-minute scrambling when legislative changes inevitably drop.

Do you have concerns about your HR policies? Contact US

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