by Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC

Last year was a year of opportunities and challenges for manufacturers in our region. Greater emphasis on U.S. manufacturing, more aggressive reshoring strategies, a surging economy, and growing consumer confidence has had positive impact on orders and production for many. At the same time, tariffs or the threat of tariffs, had an adverse impact on several industry subsectors. A constant for all manufacturers was the pressure to meet or exceed customer expectations for quality and on-time delivery. A common challenge for most was and continues to be attracting and retaining employees. The low supply and high demand in the labor market is now a driver to higher wages putting further pressure on companies to run as efficiently and productively as possible.

While you may not set personal New Year’s resolutions for health and fitness (like many), consider making resolutions when it comes to attracting, developing, and retaining employees. Give as much attention to DEVELOP as you do the others. Look to grow your people. If you don’t, other employers will. Here are just a few resolutions for the New Year that you might consider:

  • Build internal career paths: The 2018 Retention Report cited that the #1 reason employees are leaving jobs is due to having no opportunities for growth. Determine requirements and training that your employees can achieve in order to advance to a new position and/or increased pay opportunity.
  • Evaluate critical training needs: Ask your employees (at all levels) what training they need to take their work to the next level. As you look to satisfy your employees’ appetite to engage and contribute more, do they need to sharpen their critical thinking and problem-solving skills? If your company is ISO certified, do you need to train some additional internal auditors? Plan ahead for some onsite or public classes to meet employees’ needs in the new year.
  • Conduct more cross-training activities: Training employees on various jobs not only helps them attain additional skills for personal development, but offers you less stress during unexpected (or planned) absences and departures from the job.
  • Improve your onboarding process: Start onboarding during recruitment and hiring. A Harvard Business Review article titled, “Getting Your Employees Up to Speed”, says most managers focus on orienting new hires by reviewing the employee manual, which is important, but also be sure to focus on culture and setting clear expectations. The article stresses not to wait until the employee’s first day to bring up this subject, stating that “effective onboarding starts during the recruiting and hiring phase — when you’re interviewing the potential hire and assessing fit”.

Whether you work on these resolutions, or some of your own, all of us at NWIRC wish you much success in the coming year and look forward to working with you in 2019!