#175 – Inside Our Industry – Think Outside the Box with Your Workforce Solutions

Posted on | Inside Our Industry

The pendulum has swung to the court of good employees, with their quality of life/work balance serving as their guide to staying with a job or seeking one that better suits their balance goals. The following Workplace Trends piece, in part, by Dianne Jones with Jones Lang LaSalle, posted on AreaDevelopment.com, nicely outlines what employers may need to be doing to keep their workers satisfied. We don’t often think of the Industrial Sector as being able to have the flexibility that the Office Sector does, but, as you will read, there are trends occurring in manufacturing that offer their workers a suitable life/work balance.

Think Outside the Box with Your Workforce Solutions
Dianne Jones, Managing Director, Business and Economic Incentives, JLL, Q3 2023

Creative” and “Workforce” are not words that have historically gone together. Fast forward to 2023, and they go together like peanut butter and jelly!

But why are we having to be creative with the workforce? What does it mean to be creative with your workforce, and how can your creativity set you up for success within your industry? Also, while we are having a hard conversation, let’s talk about Gen Z and how they play a role in all of this.

What we can see from the statistics is clear: the baby-boomers are retiring in droves. According to Pew Research Center, the rate of retirement for baby-boomers has accelerated. Nearly 29 million boomers retired in 2020, and three million the year before that. By 2030, 75 million boomers are expected to retire. That translates to about 10,000 workers per day.

While this trend is not new or unexpected, the pandemic did escalate the rates of retirement, putting a major strain on the labor force participation rate. Currently, the U.S. labor force participation rate is the worst it has been since 1964, despite job openings being at an historical high in March of 2022. While there has been a shift in the number of people available to work, there has also been a shift in how people work — 2020 forced the “ability” to be flexible, by working from home or the need for one parent to stay at home as opposed to pre-pandemic dual-income households.

Regardless of how we got here, we must deal with where we are and understand the differences between expectations of employers and employees. Conversations with our clients tell us that employees view productivity as completing their required task. Employers view productivity as innovation and new ideas generated by the organization. This is a sharp disconnect.

JLL’s 2022 workforce report shows that employees renewed their focus on maintaining their quality of life, including hybrid work, well-being support, and competitive pay. Seventy-four percent of employees who have been working remotely three to four days a week were the least loyal and have left their jobs in the past 2.5 years, and 79 percent could do so in the coming months. This statistic is not shocking when you think about the limited connectivity and camaraderie of remote work. The statistics go on to show that 59 percent of employees prioritize working in a company that supports their health and well-being, while 60 percent of employees believe the office will remain central to their working life in the long term.

Workers in the Industrial Sector
The industrial workforce has grown significantly over the past few years and, as the EV revolution continues, will continue to grow. Hiring and retaining workers is harder than ever. Their skills are often transferable, and the company across the street may be paying $0.25 more an hour than you are. So how do you compete with that?

Like those in the office sector, the industrial workforce wants flexibility. While there is an expectation that work happens on the manufacturing floor, being flexible with when the work happens is a new trend in manufacturing.

There are also trends of same-day pay that keep employees coming back, since there is instant gratification in seeing your money in your account before you get home. Flexibility on the shifts you offer and seasonally changing what shifts are preferred to allow your employees time to make their kids sports games and the church potluck will go far, they say.

While some problems are easier to solve than others, child-care is still a major issue. Child Care Aware of America estimates that nearly 16,000 child-care programs across 37 states have permanently closed since 2020. Several companies have invested in on-site or nearby child-care centers. These are built by the company and operated by local providers who are skilled in the rules and regulations of running a daycare.

Women make up about 30 percent of the manufacturing workforce, and 63.1 percent of women cited the lack of flexibility, and 49.2 percent cited child-care support as their top challenge. If the industry increased the share to 35 percent, 746,000 job vacancies would be filled today.

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