by Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC

Three essential components for a successful business- attract, develop, and retain- employees. It’s in the news everyday- one of the top issues among manufacturers nationally is the difficulty of finding people and the exodus of retiring baby boomers. A recent New York Times headline read “Manufacturers Increase Efforts to Woo Workers to Rural Areas”. U.S. News featured a commentary called “Bridging the Stem Skills Gap Involves Both Education and Industry Commitments”. And there are numerous others every week. Surely everyone knows by now about this concern, but no one is living it more than the manufacturers. Let’s take a brief look at these three essential components and their interdependency.

Attract. It’s evident in Pennsylvania over the last several years that greater emphasis has been placed on career readiness education and programs to attract youth into manufacturing careers by both the public and private sectors. The PA Department of Education has Future Ready PA with a career readiness indicator requiring career exploration activities, including job shadowing. The PA Department of Labor and Industry recently awarded grants to support Teacher in the Workplace initiatives in workforce development areas in our (NWIRC’s) 13-county footprint. The NWIRC is one of the program coordinators for the What’s So Cool about Manufacturing student video contests helping to change perceptions about manufacturing among students, parents, and teachers and connect education with industry. During last school year across Pennsylvania, there were 12 contests with 174 middle school teams paired with
174 manufacturers and generated over 600,000 online votes to select Viewer’s Choice Award winners. Of course, national MFG Day is observed each year the first Friday of October which encourages manufacturers to open their doors for students, parents, and teachers, and there are many other events in October across the region recognizing this day.

Develop. This activity goes hand-in-hand with the other components because a plan to develop your employees will increase your success of attracting and retaining. The Work Institute’s 2018 Retention Report cites that the number one reason for employees leaving a company is no longer their supervisor, but rather lack of opportunities for growth and achievement. Developing internal career pathways, ongoing-training, and creating an internal company academy are initiatives we’ve observed of companies with a little to zero turnover rate. Developing employees improves their engagement, the overall company culture, and a company’s ability to stay competitive.

Retain. With so much focus today on attracting youth and ‘filling the pipeline’, it’s important to keep your sights on retention, especially because cost of turnover is estimated at one-third of the worker’s salary.* Company culture is an important factor to not only attract the new generations (millennials and Zs), but also to get them to stick around. One in four employees will change jobs in the next year and by 2020 it will be 1 of 3 changing jobs each year. The research shows 77% of those who quit could have been retained. *

NWIRC’s strategic focus includes an increasing role and making an impact on the 21st Century workforce and organizational culture. And, we are here as a conduit to help connect companies with a plethora of resources (those mentioned and others) to address the need to attract, develop, and retain your employees.

*Source: Work Institute, 2018 Retention Report