An Employee Retention Convention for the Manufacturing Professional

Wildly Successful Employee Retention

A Guide for the Manufacturing Professional

It is a jungle out there… America’s employers and employees are both engaged in unprecedented growth trends. Ironically, they are growing away from each other. While positive economic growth is fueling tremendous demand for both highly skilled and entry-level workers, our labor pool is shrinking. Savvy leaders will proactively approach this challenge and win the pursuit for the highly-sought, ever elusive… top talent!

Seventy seven (77) million Americans, those often referred to as the Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, have begun turning 60 years old. This group represents a full 25 percent of the entire population of the United States and they have recently embarked upon the initial steps toward retirement. The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections report that by 2010 we will have 167,754,000 skilled jobs to fill in the United States! Other studies from this well-respected government agency forecast that we will only have 157,721,000 people in the workforce in 2010 to fill those jobs. This means that we are facing a shortage of 10,033,000 workers!

Additionally, replacement needs are projected to account for 60 percent of the job openings between 2002 and 2012. Thus, even occupations projected to experience little or no growth or to decline in employment still may offer many job openings!

If you are an organizational leader, hiring manager or human resource professional in the manufacturing industry, here are some foundational strategies designed to assist you brave this labor-pool safari and top talent treasure hunt.

Retention: Surviving and Thriving Together

Employee retention is really about customer retention. Find, develop and keep genuine employees and you will find, keep and profit from retained valuable customers.
Practically all terminology, philosophies and initiatives associated with ‘customer service’, ‘customer loyalty’, ‘customer referrals’, ‘customer win-back’, etc. can be equally associated with a winning approach to ‘employee service, ‘employee loyalty,’ employee referrals,’ and ‘employee win-back.’ The most profitable organizations readily recognize that they must serve their employees first, and in turn, those well served, satisfied employees radiate out exemplary service to your external customer.
Similar to the marketing and service mantra, “It is far better, more profitable and easier to keep the customers you have than to find new ones,” the same applies to your employees and the retention of those that are carefully chosen, well-trained and delivering authentic service. Thus the term PROACTIVE becomes the defining difference between successful organizations and mediocre ones.

Ten Steps to Becoming a P.R.O. at Employee Retention: 

Proactive, Retention Opportunity # 1
“Leaders Must Be Role Models”

  • Model what you expect.
  • Tell the truth. Period.
  • Follow up and follow through.
  • Work for your employees, not the reverse.
  • Be deeply aware of the needs, concerns, and opinions of your employees that are directly connecting and serving your customers.

Proactive, Retention Opportunity # 2
Present a 100% accurate and realistic description of the job functions, work environment, future advancement, benefits and salary. 

  • Allow ‘job previews.’ 
  • Utilize well-established, successful staffing organizations, such as Express Personnel to prescreen and pre-select applicants.
  • Invite ‘influential decision makers’ (spouses, parents, significant others), into the interview process. 

Proactive, Retention Opportunity # 3
Match the person to the Job!

  • Use situational-based interviewing.
  • Have 3-4 steps in the interview process. Include peer interviews as one step of those steps.
  • Be unrelenting in checking references.
  • Delay hiring for the right person. 

Proactive, Retention Opportunity # 4
Orientation Programs: A Lion’s Step in All the Right Directions

  • A structured, well-designed new-hire orientation process is vital to increasing retention 
  • Reduces startup costs
  • Builds mutual commitment between organization and new employee
  • Clarifies expectations
  • Demonstrates a commitment to professional development
  • Is the foundation of a new employee’s sense of value

Proactive, Retention Opportunity # 5
Provide frequent constructive, objective feedback.  

  • The once a year appraisal is dead! Collectively coaching collaborative goals with frequent feedback. 
  • Direct me, don’t dictate!
  • Solid employees desire, and demand, feedback.
  • “Re-ward me, re-train me, or re-tire me!” (This is particularly vital for new hires) 

Proactive, Retention Opportunity # 6
Offer professional growth and advancement opportunities. 

  • Don’t allude to the “potential of advancement” if your organization is too small or not willing to provide or create it. 
  • Create alternatives to traditional career ladders
  • Commit to a preference for promoting from within before seeking outside talent
  • Develop a mentoring program
  • Don’t hold someone back because your department can’t afford to ‘lose them.’
  • Provide employee training, particularly in the areas that are employee strengths, not weaknesses.

Proactive, Retention Opportunity # 7
Value Individual Performance and Contribution 

  • Tie pay and increases to measurable attainment of goals and tangible value to the organization.
  • Allow employees to compete against goals mutually established by them and their immediate manager.
  • Generation X and Y generally prefer to be valued for their individual efforts; prefer to measured often as they set short-term goals and want to have input into their own customized rewards
  • Walk a Mile in My Shoes and cross training programs
  • Strategic planning that includes all employees.
  • Leadership spends 80% of time with top performers.

Proactive, Retention Opportunity # 8
It’s Life First, Work…(a distant)……………………Second!

  • Virtuous Cycle- Employers of choice place a priority upon serving the needs of their employees before asking for outstanding external customer service. (Leigh Branham)
  • Employee satisfaction increases employee productivity, which increases customer satisfaction, which equates directly to profitability.
  • Brand your organization as a great place to work first, then as a great place with whom to do business.
  • Adopt flextime, work-from-home opportunities
  • Be prepared to turn away new business to avoid turnover caused by burnout.
  • Insist upon truly ‘disconnected’ vacations for everyone. No calls from work. No email. 

Proactive, Retention Opportunity # 9
Recognize, Recognize and Recognize Some More! 

  • Recognition can drive performance and profitability
  • Not (always) about money
  • Deliver it immediately
  • Be specific
  • Be sincere
  • Do it very often.
  • Reward “Employees of the Moment” (Bob Nelson) rather than employees of the month.
  • Recognize performance before tenure.

Proactive, Retention Opportunity # 10
Constantly Be Re-Recruiting Your Current Staff

  • Expect that your top performers are receiving calls from recruiters and competitors.
  • Routinely re-educate employees on all that your company offers.
  • Ask for their reviews of you and their input into decisions. 

Kristine Sexter, President of WorkWise Productions, is an award-winning consultant, professional speaker, and author. She works with companies of all sizes from start-ups to Fortune 500, as well as trade & professional associations across the country to develop highly effective strategic employee recruiting and retention plans. To bring Ms. Sexter to your company or conference, or call toll free 1-866-5-Sexter.

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