Plavecsky's Ponderings By Jim Plavecsky
by Jim Plavecsky
October 1st, 2020

Employee Retention—Keep Your Keepers

As I meet and talk with door and window manufacturers, a common theme this year is that they seem to have plenty of orders but not enough muscle on the production side of their businesses. There is clearly a disconnect between windows ordered and windows that can be made. The problems with production break down into two major factors: not enough people and not enough components.

In most cases, the slowdown of components from supply chain partners is also due to a lack of production workers in their respective factories. So, in the final analysis, it all boils down to one thing: a lack of production workers.

There is simply not enough manpower to get every order out the door in a timely basis. Meanwhile, we all know that finding and hiring good production workers is a challenge. So, every company must reflect on this: What are you doing to keep the employees that you already have? If your people are walking out the door as fast or faster than the number of new employees joining your company, then you have a revolving door. As we finish up these final months of the year and prepare for 2021, it is important to examine your company’s employee retention strategy.

There are three key factors to employee retention.

Factor number one: Pick the right person in the first place.

This sounds so basic but is often overlooked due to the need for expediency. “We need people fast. We don’t have time to be picky.” Well, in the end, you simply do not have time to train someone only to watch them quit after a week and then repeat the process all over again. Each type of job defines a mold that only a certain type of individual can fit. So, as they say, “Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole!” Each company needs to develop a screening procedure which correlates to both success and contentment for each type of job on the plant floor. It takes a certain type of individual to embrace a manufacturing position so make it your company’s mission to identify and hire the people with the greatest probability of both success and job satisfaction for the job at hand.

Factor two: Give your company the reputation of being a great company to work for.

For some insight, I visited a website dedicated to the Best Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production to see the most desirable places to work and what made them rank so high. In 2018, the top honor was owned by Stryker, a medical technology company. Check out the website and you will notice that the company rates in the mid-90th percentile in all of five key areas:

1) People are given a lot of responsibility;

2) They feel a sense of pride due to their accomplishments;

3) Customers rate their service as excellent;

4) When one joins the company they are made to feel welcome; and

5) Employees are proud to tell people they work there.

Factor number three: Beef up pay and benefits.

When I was in college, one of the most coveted jobs was working at UPS. It was hard work loading packages on trucks for eight to 10 hours per day. However, the hourly wage was well above what other jobs were paying and they offered the best benefits package, including medical, dental and even 401k.

Being able to offer a decent health care program is huge. The wage rate for factory jobs is oftentimes in that “non-sweet spot” of being just high enough to put one over the federal poverty level, thereby disqualifying one from obtaining Medicaid, while offering a mediocre healthcare plan featuring high “out of pocket” costs and discouraging family deductibles. This can be disheartening on employees who have one or more family members suffering with medical conditions. These people may find it more advantageous to work part time jobs which make their annual pay low enough to qualify them for Medicaid. The bottom line here is to make your company’s overall benefits package a very desirable one, making a job at your company one to covet.

So, there you have it. There are three key components of an employee retention plan that will enable you to hold on to your most valuable employees—the “keepers.”  They are the lifeblood of your company and you must do whatever it takes to make them feel valuable and appreciated! In a nutshell, you must keep your “keepers.”



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