In the wake of supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and changing consumer demands due to COVID-19, companies and employees in the manufacturing industry are ready to get back to normal. While the manufacturing workplace may never fully return to the way it was before the pandemic, there are positive signs that production levels are starting to approach pre-pandemic levels.

In fact, the top production output countries in the world — China and the U.S. — have already topped 2019 production levels, and numerous other leading countries, including the U.K., Canada and Australia, are expected to match 2019 levels no later than Q4 2022.

At the same time, however, Deloitte has predicted a labor shortage in manufacturing of 2.5 million workers. With production levels already on the rise in many areas of the world, it's safe to assume that labor shortages of this magnitude or higher are on the horizon for many manufacturers around the world. To ensure your company has the ability to source, attract and retain the candidates it needs to move forward, now is the time to evaluate your talent acquisition practices and make necessary adjustments. Plus, to help you navigate, here are five critical steps your company should take to continue to secure high-quality candidates in a post-pandemic job market.

We’ve compiled a short summary of our top tips for attracting  manufacturing workers — download it below or continue reading the article.

download manufacturing tips

reexamine your employer brand

Studies show that 72 percent of job seekers research potential employers before even applying for a job, and thanks to social media and online review boards, conducting this research has never been easier. What’s more, research shows that the majority of candidates won’t work for companies with bad reputations. Unfortunately, however, many companies in the manufacturing industry aren’t actively managing their employer brands. And without a strong employer brand, they’re effectively limiting their potential talent pool by more than half. 

Ready to take steps to enhance your company’s employer brand, expand your talent pool and deliver the outcomes that matter? Start with the following. 

1. conduct an employer brand audit

It would be impossible to enhance your employer brand without first examining the current condition of your employer image. Conduct an employer brand audit to determine what current and prospective employees think about your company. This audit will highlight your company’s strengths as well as shed light on some areas that need improvement. Most importantly, this critical data will ensure your company is moving in the right direction to rebuild its brand.

2. create a safe workplace environment

While workplaces around the globe are beginning to reopen at full capacity, employees remain concerned about health and safety. In fact, according to one survey of more than 4,500 workers from five different countries, 100 percent have some level of anxiety about returning to work. You can help to alleviate that stress — and boost your employer brand — by prioritizing health and safety in the workplace. Post-pandemic practices, such as safety training, social-distancing workstations, flexible scheduling and handwashing stations, can go a long way toward boosting your employer brand image and letting your workers and prospective candidates know you care about their safety.

conduct a skills assessment

One quick look around the manufacturing plant will reveal just how much the industry has changed in the last five years alone — and there’s no denying that automation and digital technologies are here to stay. As these capabilities become more and more advanced, so too will the need for employees with the advanced skills to leverage them.

Given the predicted shortage of skilled manufacturing workers on the horizon, now is the time for manufacturers to take action, start planning and ensure you’re prepared to meet both current and future needs.

1. assess current and future skills needs

When conducting a skills assessment, it’s important to identify the skills your company needs right now as well as the types of skills your company is most likely going to need in the future. Considering the magnitude of the looming skills shortage, this step is imperative to helping employers prepare their workforces for the future.

Additionally, make sure you identify hard skills as well as soft skills like agility, communication, critical thinking and adaptability. It’s important to complete a skills assessment for multiple positions within the company, especially for those roles that are most difficult to fill.

2. update job descriptions

Once you have determined what types of skills your business needs for various roles within the company, take the time to update your job descriptions. When updating these job descriptions, think about them from the viewpoint of prospective candidates — and make sure each one clearly defines what the role is, what your company’s expectations are and what skills will be necessary in order for someone to be successful on the job. With accurate job descriptions at all levels of the company, you’re far more likely to source candidates that already have the required skills or are capable of gaining these skills through experience and on-the-job training.

3. make training part of the onboarding process

Now that you’ve identified the types of skills you want your workers to have, it should be easier to adapt your new hire training process accordingly. Be sure to include a structured training program as part of your onboarding process to ensure all new employees have the right skill sets for their roles. After all, that’s the only way to set them up for success on the job.

identify optimal compensation package

Salaries and benefits remain  the number-one reason employees seek new job opportunities, so don’t make the mistake of offering too little. Today’s savvy candidates know what they’re worth — and they’re willing to wait for another opportunity if you aren’t delivering.

Take the following steps to identify what the optimal salary offerings look like in your market. It’ll help you create ideal compensation packages that align with market and industry standards.

1. research industry standards

Combine COVID-19 with an ongoing skills shortage and a highly competitive job market, and what do you get? Increasing compensation across the board. So if your company has not conducted in-depth research around salaries and wages since the pandemic, now is the time. Check out Randstad’s 2022 Salary Guide to get started.

2. look for remote work opportunities

When the pandemic hit, employers, including many within the manufacturing industry, were forced to rely on remote work to maintain production levels. As the markets begin to open, these remote workers are in no hurry to head back into the workplace, at least not on a full-time basis. The fact is that many employees prefer working from home — and they’ve increasingly come to expect these types of work  opportunities.

While remote work may seem like an impossibility in manufacturing, there are certain positions, such as machine engineers and quality control roles, that can be done remotely. Start by examining each role to determine which tasks and duties can be transferred to remote work. 

Employers should also find ways to bring more flexibility for those roles where remote work options are not possible. For example, compressed shifts, flexible shifts and part-time opportunities should all be on the table.

3. understand workers’ needs

Today’s candidates are also taking a closer look at company benefits before accepting any job offer. It’s important that you offer a full compensation package that includes meaningful benefits. Keep in mind, however, that some workers’ needs have shifted since the pandemic. Paid time off and flexible scheduling, for example, are now more important than ever to employees. Take the time to evaluate your current employee’s needs (hint: use a survey) to get a better understanding of what types of benefits are important to them.

build a talent pipeline

The “post-and-pray” method — posting on a job board, then sitting back and crossing your fingers — simply doesn’t cut it when your manufacturing workforce needs highly skilled workers. Instead, companies must take proactive measures and build flexible talent pipelines they can tap into as needed. Being one step ahead of your hiring demands will enable you to source faster, and attract higher-quality candidates, too.

Keep in mind that it takes time to build a meaningful talent pipeline, so you’ll  want to start the process as soon as possible. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. develop a talent pipeline for multiple roles

Building an effective talent pipeline doesn’t mean simply curating a pool of candidates with a broad range of skills. Instead, you want to build specific talent pipelines for specific roles within your company — and for your hardest-to-fill positions especially. 

2. actively seek passive candidates

A growing skills gap means that there are not enough active candidates in the job market right now to fill the number of openings. Manufacturers must dig deeper and start to focus on actively recruiting passive candidates as well. Sourcing strategies, such as employee referrals and social media marketing, can be very effective at attracting passive candidates. Remember that these prospective candidates are still working; in other words, while they may be willing to change jobs, they aren’t actively seeking new job opportunities. With this in mind, consider simplifying the application process for these candidates. Otherwise, you may have trouble enticing them to complete the process.

3. seek support from a staffing partner

One of the biggest benefits of working with a professional recruitment company is that it gives you immediate access to a massive talent pool of screened and qualified candidates available on demand. Given the significant shortage of highly skilled manufacturing professionals on the job market right now, that could be a boon for your bottom line — so be sure to check out all of the benefits of working with a strategic staffing partner

leverage HR technology

Digital technology isn’t only effective at improving manufacturing processes, it also helps with recruitment — streamlining hiring processes, improving candidate engagement and driving better outcomes.

1. streamline the hiring process

If your company is struggling with a high application-abandonment rate, it may be due to the fact that your application process is too long or cumbersome. Studies show that up to 60 percent of applicants quit before completing application processes because they’re too long. HR technology can help to streamline the application process, making it easier to complete. Plus, the right digital technology will also ensure that your application process can be completed on a mobile device.

2. filter applications

Most employers don’t have trouble getting people to apply for open roles. Instead, the challenge is getting the right people, with the right skills. And the reality is, HR teams rarely have the bandwidth to handle tedious manual tasks like reference checks. Fortunately, there’s new HR technology, like the Randstad Relevate Talent Search tool, that helps employers make better talent decisions by automating and optimizing the reference-check process, which can dramatically improve hiring outcomes.  

3. candidate engagement

Another great benefit of HR technology? The ability to improve candidate engagement throughout the recruitment process. Set up correctly, for instance, this technology can immediately send out reminder emails to applicants or allow prospective candidates to schedule online interviews. Down the line, what’s more, these capabilities can improve the candidate experience, enhance your employer brand and entice candidates to accept job offers, too.

Find these tips useful? We've compiled a list of our top tips to attract manufacturing workers, so you can keep them on hand for quick reference.

download manufacturing tips