Offering Flexible Employment to Manufacturing Employees

Photo source: Image by Yerson Retamal from Pixabay

Is your company struggling to find and keep skilled employees? Does your company offer flexible working arrangements for all employees? Despite the need for many manufacturing roles to be hands-on, companies can and should offer flexible working options to attract and retain top talent.  

With unemployment in Wisconsin remaining low around 3%, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers are struggling to find skilled workers.  The challenge will likely remain for some time as per, “Projections from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, among other industry analysts, predict that over the next decade, more than 2 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled across the U.S.

A big reason for the growing skill gap is due to older workers retiring. To combat this trend, companies will likely need to adjust their workforce management strategies to attract younger generations. Offering better work-life balance and agile, flexible options will appeal greatly to employees who appreciate working on their own terms and often have other flexible career options available. 

A few months ago, shared an article on the importance of offering flexible work options in manufacturing. They shared,

“According to the 2018 Mercer Talent Trends Study, 51 percent of manufacturing employees want their company to offer more flexible work options. Yet only nine percent of HR leaders in the industry say flexible working is visibly present in their organization. 

Workers increasingly cite flexibility as one of the top things they look for in a job. As a result, remote work has become more common in many workplaces, but this isn’t as easy for manufacturing companies to offer. For many roles, employees simply need to be on the factory floor to get the job done.”

In addition to attracting new talent, research has found that flexible work arrangements can improve employee engagement and effectiveness, which means increasing employee retention in a tight job market.  

So how can manufacturers offer more flexibility? For many allowing employees to work remotely is not an easy option, but there are other ways offered by including:

  1. Offer Flexible Hours: Allow your employees to choose their shift hours. Employees—especially those with young children who may need to do the school run—will see something as simple as choosing whether to come in at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. as a way to significantly improve their working lives.
  2. Shift Swapping: Common at retail companies and in restaurants can work well in the manufacturing setting. This flexible perk is exactly what it sounds like: employees are allowed to swap shifts with managerial approval. Some companies also allow employees to swap split shifts, switching just four hours out of an eight-hour shift.
  3. Compressed or Short Work Weeks: Employees work longer days in order to work fewer days. Compressed schedules are common among firefighters and nurses, who often work three 12-hour days and then have four days off. Other common compressed schedules include working 9-hour work days and taking every second Friday off; and working 10-hour work days and taking every Friday off.
  4. Be Flexible With Time Off: When it comes to offering your staff greater flexibility, it’s just as important to take into consideration the time your employees don’t spend at work. Create a Paid Time Off Policy that lumps together vacation days, sick time, and personal time into a single bank of days which employees can use to take paid time off work.
  5. Offer Floating Holidays: Where employees choose the days they take for vacation — subject to their manager’s approval and business needs, of course.
  6. Offer Part-Time Work and Job Sharing: Offering part-time positions, both on the floor and in the office, can make your company a more appealing place to work, helping you to attract and retain key team members. Employees at all levels — from entry-level manufacturing positions to senior-level managers — may be interested in part-time work if it’s available to them. For positions that require a full-time presence, job sharing allows two people to share a position, performing one job. One person might work from Monday to Wednesday and the other from Wednesday to Friday, with a handoff on the overlapping days.

Your APICS Milwaukee Chapter, the premier professional association for supply chain management, has a mission to serve Supply Chain professionals in the Milwaukee area. Starting in 1972, we help individuals and companies close their skill gaps through networking and educational opportunities. APICS Members receive discounts on training and we offer additional discounts for larger onsite training groups. We look forward to hearing from you and working together to help find and retain skilled workers.  For additional information, contact your local APICS Milwaukee Chapter via our website at: