Adapting to a Multi-Generational Workforce

A recent survey of readers in the manufacturing industry was taken to better understand how manufacturers are seeking to adapt to an increasingly multi-generational workforce. This report takes a thorough look at these survey results and provides a blueprint for manufacturers as they seek to cross-train and adapt to a multi-generational workforce, while also creating a more efficient and innovative enterprise.

Epicor
Epicor
M a r k e t M o n i t o r r e s e a r c h s e r i e s Adapting to a Multi-Generational Workforce: Practical Tips on How to Evolve and Innovate Within Your Manufacturing Enterprise Presented by: ANUFACTURING sPonsored by: M a r k e t M o n i t o r r e s e a r c h s e r i e s 2 Table of Contents introduction .....................................................................................................................................3 section 1: What the state of the american Workforce Means for Manufacturing ..........................4 by the numbers .........................................................................................................................5 one size does not Fit all ..........................................................................................................6 section 2: best Practices for Fostering a culture of innovation across Generations .....................7 Utilize the talent you already have ...........................................................................................8 continuous education ...............................................................................................................8 collaboration is key ..................................................................................................................9 Flexibility Matters .......................................................................................................................9 section 3: Looking toward the Future ..........................................................................................10 M a r k e t M o n i t o r r e s e a r c h s e r i e s 3 Introduction a major shift is currently taking place within the american workforce. the good news is that americans are living longer now than ever before. While no one’s exactly com- plaining about a national increase in life expectancy, it does lead to more complicated and unprecedent- ed questions surrounding how this affects the workforce. in short, this trend means that americans aren’t just living longer but also working longer. the manufacturing industry is one of the first to experience this shift in workplace dynamics. the “skills gap” conundrum that’s been so widely discussed the past decade or so supports this sentiment. What’s less clear is how manufacturers are seeking to evolve to curb both short-term and long-term pain points on the plant floor. Manufacuring.net recently surveyed its readers to better understand how manufacturers are seeking to adapt to an increasingly multi-gener- ational workforce. specifically, we wanted to know how older and newer generations of workers are being cross-trained simultaneously and how this reflects manufacturers’ desire to both evolve and innovate within their changing workforce. according to our results, over half of survey respondents report be- ing “very affected” to “somewhat affected” by this shift in workplace dynamics. When readers were asked if their manufacturing enterprise was “currently seeing a shortage of younger skilled workers entering the workplace,” 50% answered “yes.” this report takes a thorough look at these survey results and provides a blueprint for manufacturers as they seek to cross-train and adapt to a multi-generational workforce, while also creating a more efficient and innovative enterprise. Is your manufacuturing facility currently seeking to cross-train both an older and newer generation of workers? Yes, all employees 49.7% Very affected 12.7% Yes, just younger employees 15.0% Not at all affected 9.5% Yes, just older employees 1.1% M a r k e t M o n i t o r r e s e a r c h s e r i e s 4 Section 1: What the State of the American Workforce Means for Manufacturing Look around your manufacturing enterprise. survey the plant floor closely, and what do you see? if you’re anything like most manufacturers in the country, you’re seeing at least three or perhaps even four generations of workers collaborating together toward a common goal: keeping your plant running efficiently and effectively. however, and as any experienced manager can attest, leading a multi-generational workforce is complex, at best. craig Mccollum agrees. as the executive Vice President of the americas for the business software company epicor, he says that inter-generational tension is a common occurrence. “one recent statistic shows that almost 70% of workers view the work environment to be tense because of clashes between these two different generations,” says Mccollum. “the question is, how do we optimize the environment so it’s conducive to both and, as a result, get them to engage and hopefully be more productive?” according to Manufacturing.net’s recent survey (as referenced above), 54% of respondents said that they were “very affected” to “somewhat affected” by the shift in workplace dynamics within their manufacturing enterprise. additionally, a combined 64% of respondents said that their manufacturing enterprise was “currently seeking to cross-train both an older and newer generation of workers.” before we delve into the operational challenges of adapting to a multi-generational workforce that is simultaneously juggling day-to-day production, let’s take a closer look at the scope of this national workplace trend. How affected is your manufacturing enter- prise by this multi-generational shift currently taking place in the American workplace? Somewhat affected 42.9% Very affected 12.7% Not very affected 30.2% Not at all affected 9.5% I haven't really noticed 4.8% M a r k e t M o n i t o r r e s e a r c h s e r i e s 5 By The Numbers Four generations of employees working together under the same roof is common for manufacturers across the country, especially for larger segments of the industry that employ 1,000-plus workers. the number of americans working past the age of 65 is among the highest ever recorded and growing. For example, the United states bureau of Labor statistics predicts that by 2020 around 22% of americans over 65 will still be working. additionally, a recent report from the Pwc says that Millennials will account for about 50% of the american workforce as early as 2020. however, the seismic shift occurring in the workforce isn’t just because older americans are working longer. For decades, the national birth rate has also been in decline, which means our workforce is slowly diminishing. so, statistically speaking, when the older generations of workers do even- tually retire, there won’t be as many educated, skilled young workers to replace them. this is a problem that has already affected a diversity of manufacturing industries across the United states. When asked if their “manufacturing enterprise was currently seeing a shortage of younger skilled workers entering the workplace, 50% of Manufacturing.net’s survey respondents responded in the affirmative. although this shortage of skilled workers might not be as apparent on every plant floor in the U.s., there’s no denying that manufacturers need to be prepared to face this inevitable problem. Whether you’re a manufacturing leader already in the crosshairs of this issue or not, one thing’s for sure: it’s not a question of if or when you need to act but how. Is your manufacturing enterprise currently seeing a shortage of younger skilled work- ers entering the workforce? Yes 50.0% No 34.6% I don't know 15.4% M a r k e t M o n i t o r r e s e a r c h s e r i e s 6 One Size Does Not Fit All Millennials have a bad rap within the manufacturing industry. and, in the spirit of avoiding ugly “us vs. them” stereotypes, it’s fair to say (and studies prove) that different generations of workers respond to and are motivated by dissimilar sets of values. although this paper isn’t designed to deal with strategies to recruit a younger workforce, the above point regarding generational stereotypes and driving motivations is imperative when considering how to cross- train and adapt to three or four generations of workers. For manufacturing leaders and management, a simple awareness that differing intricacies and contexts could affect any overarching workplace strategy is vital. according to Mccullum, there is a definite awareness problem when it comes to forming a well-formed workplace management and training plan. “We need to make a concerted effort to make sure there is an awareness of what being a part of any manufacturing company actually means, and the value that it brings to customers,” says Mccullum. so, while the old maxim “one size does not fit all” is vital, what’s equally signifi- cant is that each team leader, general manager and ceo stay consistent in their approach to engaging and collaborating with a multi-generational workforce. “We need to make a concerted effort to make sure there is an awareness of what being a part of any manufacturing company actually means, and the value that it brings to customers.” M a r k e t M o n i t o r r e s e a r c h s e r i e s 7 Does your manufacturing enterprise offer training and development opportunities, schooling reim- bursements or any on-the-job learning initiatives? Section 2: Best Practices for Fostering a Culture of Innovation Across Generations Manufacturing thrives on innovation; in fact, consumers demand it. For manufacturing industries to stay relevant, any enterprise’s workforce needs to be primed and ready to collaborate across generations, contribute to the company’s mission and be the driving force behind those “next big ideas.” First, however, managers need to “future-proof” their organizations by creating positive work environ- ments for workers across generations. in Manufacturing.net’s reader survey, 40% of respondents said that their company wasn’t “doing enough to foster positive relationships among its multi-generational employees.” below are some best practices for manufacturers seeking to better adapt to their multi-generational workforce while simultaneously fostering a culture of innovation. The Top Reasons Why Some Manufacturers Fail To Implement Mentorship Or On-Site Training Initiatives 1 Companies don’t have the time or management required to buid these types of programs 2 Wouldn’t improve overall job satisfaction or employee retention 3 Don’t feel programs are necessary within their manufacturing enterprise 4 Belief that these programs are ineffective 5 Lack of desire Yes 76.8% No 18.4% I don't know 4.9% M a r k e t M o n i t o r r e s e a r c h s e r i e s 8 Utilize the Talent You Already Have Mentorship and peer training programs are focused and relatively simple ways to engage all generations of workers within a plant or factory. however, this is one effective tool that manufacturers have yet to utilize and implement within their work- space. according to Manufacturing.net’s survey respondents, only around 40% said that their manufacturing enterprise offered any sort of mentoring program. regarding mentorship programs, Mccullum says, “try to take the folks who have extensive and deep domain expertise in a given area.” “Match them up with someone who is coming in – who’s probably more tech savvy and innovative – and have them work together so they both see the value the other person brings.” Continuous Education another tool that could be utilized, depending on the size and space of the specific company, is the development of on-the-job learning initiatives. although most manufacturing facilities offer some form of continuous learning, school reimbursements or even mentorship programs, multi-generational workers (especially younger and less skilled employ- ees) still require the encouragement to make participating in these opportunities a priority. in fact, 76% of Manufacturing.net readers said that their “manufacturing enterprise offered training and development opportunities, schooling reimbursements or on-site learning initiatives. additionally, a whopping 92% of respondents said that mentorship programs or other employee training and learning initiatives were important to their company’s long-term health. M a r k e t M o n i t o r r e s e a r c h s e r i e s 9 Collaboration is Key as mentioned above, one common mistake most manufacturers make is failing to utilize the talent pool they already have. by actively choosing to harness the collection of skilled minds already at your disposal, the chances of driving innovation and success from the plant floor increase exponentially. Find creative ways to get your multi-generational workforce to collaborate, collectively address efficiency or production problems and solve them. When asked if their manufacturing enterprise saw any improvements or benefits from training initiatives or mentorship programs, the number one response was “improved communication across the work- force.” other benefits included, “boosted employee morale,” “improved employee retention” and “improved engagement across the enterprise.” Flexibility Matters technology is a driving force behind changes on the plant floor but also behind innovation. With a wide diversity of workers in your facility (age not being the least among them), there’s something to be said for some degree of flexibility in the overall management of a workforce. even if resistant to change in the day-to-day plant floor operations, employers and management leaders need to take advantage of new technology at their disposal. consider making use of apps recommended by the more digitally adept members of your team. engage in at-home conferencing, email and other content-management sites that might enable you to appeal to part-time or contractual employees. The Top Reasons Why Some Manufacturers Fail To Implement Mentorship Or On-Site Training Initiatives 1 Companies don’t have the time or management required to buid these types of programs 2 Wouldn’t improve overall job satisfaction or employee retention 3 Don’t feel programs are necessary within their manufacturing enterprise 4 Belief that these programs are ineffective 5 Lack of desire M a r k e t M o n i t o r r e s e a r c h s e r i e s 10 Section 3: Looking Toward the Future adapting to a multi-generational workforce is a challenge that demands patience and, more than likely, some degree of trial and error. remember that context matters. no plant floor is the same, nor are the generations of employees who work to keep it functioning with efficiency and care. connectivity in any manufacturing enterprise isn’t just limited to the internet of things; perhaps even more importantly, manufacturing leaders must work to create the kind of employees they want. the ideal worker will likely never just walk onto your plant floor, and a magically aligned and motivated workforce of multi-generational employees won’t appear out of thin air. however, if manufacturers choose to adapt their workplaces and take advantage of the tools at their disposal, they can then train workers to do more than meet the status quo. in fact, the opportunity is there to train workers to be innovators. 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 Boosted employee morale Created a more symbiotic relationship within the manufacturing enterprise Fostered a more innovative workplace environment Improved communication across the workforce Improved efficiency Improved employee retention Improved engagement across the enterprise Improved overall workplace environment I have not seen any improvements N/A My company doesn’t offer any Have you seen any improvements/benefits from training ot mentorship initiatives offered at your company? (Check all that apply) 29.3% 20.7% 24.5% 33.0% 27.7% 26.6% 23.9% 28.7% 17.0% 19.2% M a r k e t M o n i t o r r e s e a r c h s e r i e s 11 Market Monitor Research Series: advantage business Media’s Market Monitor research series presents fresh research and analysis on compelling and timely industry topics. “Adapting to a Multi-Generational Workforce: Practical Tips on How to Evolve and Innovate Within Your Manufacturing Enterprise” was prepared by Manufacturing.net editor abbey dean. the data presented in this report is based on the results of a survey of Manufactur- ing.net subscribers, comprising of ceos, presidents, owners, engineers, managers, and directors across the manufacturing industries. About Manufacturing.net: Manufacturing.net has served as a leading resource for manufacturers for the past 30 years, and its longstanding readership in the manufacturing marketplace makes it a respected source on the latest technologies. Manufacturing.net is a prime information source for decision-makers in operations, information technology, automation, and the supply chain. For more information visit www.manufacturing.net. About Advantage Business Media: advantage business Media (www.advantagemedia.com) is a data-driven marketing solutions company leveraging content, technology, and business intelligence to match its audience’s job performance needs with its clients’ solutions. With a diversified portfolio of highly focused websites, e-newsletters, print publications, specialized directories, vertical search databases, conferences, ancillary media vehicles, and associated web-based services, advantage serves more than one million industry professionals in the manufacturing, science, and design engineering markets. For more information visit www.advantagemedia.com. ©copyright 2016, advantage business Media. all rights reserved.
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