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In case you missed it, we just wrapped up a five-part series of posts on managing big data in manufacturing, where we detailed the massive amounts of data that are now available to manufacturers. Manufacturers know that their data is valuable, but often don’t know how to cut through the digital noise to leverage the meaningful signals. We looked at how to come up with a data management strategy for your enterprise, and finally, how Big Analytics are fast becoming the answer to the challenges posed by Big Data.
Okay! So, today we’re switching gears a bit. We want to touch on an issue that’s keeping a lot of manufacturers awake at night—the worsening problem of trying to attract millennials and retaining a skilled workforce.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that although the job openings rose to 7.5 million in March 2019, the number of hires was only 5.7 million. In fact, over the past year, more often than not, the number of open jobs each month has been much higher than the number of people seeking them. Unemployment is now the lowest it has been since 1969—3.6%.
The manufacturing industry ranks 11th of the 13 industries hardest hit by the labor shortage. The labor shortage is costing manufacturers in lots of ways: Staff churn wastes employer investment in training and HR personnel time. The labor shortage derails expansion because manufacturers who are ready to grow can’t do it without the extra workers. In a climate like this, workers are being poached by the competition, so they command higher wages and other perks.
Millennials are now 50% of the workforce
Anyone trying to overcome the labor shortage is going to have to understand Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1996. The Baby Boomers are retiring in droves, and Gen Xers are beginning to leave the workforce, too. Millennials overtook Gen Xers in 2016 to become the largest segment of the US labor force. They now represent about 50% of the workforce, and by 2025 they are expected to form 75% of the total workforce in America.
All this means that if manufacturers want to survive, they’re going to have to find ways to attract Millennials and retain them.
What younger workers want
Millennials are probably the most-studied generation in history, according to the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Because of this, we know a lot about their likes, dislikes, hopes, and aspirations.
For instance, studies have shown that Millennials (and the generation coming up behind them, Gen Z) have ideas about work life that are very different from earlier generations. Here are some study findings that manufacturers should bear in mind:
- The number of Millennials who think business has a positive impact on society fell in 2018 to 55% (from 61% the previous year).
- The number of Millennials who think business leaders are committed to improving society is 47% (down from 62% one year earlier).
- The number of Millennials who would quit their job in the next two years if they could is 49%.
- The number of Millennials who seek to stay at their job for more than five years is only 28%.
The same study found that although younger people still want to earn high salaries and be wealthy, they have different priorities from previous generations. They are now more interested in travel and seeing the world and in making a positive impact on their communities, and less interested in owning their own home and starting a family.
Attract millennials: Purpose over paycheck
The 2016 Gallup report “How Millennials Want to Work and Live” revealed that 87% of Millennials say that opportunities to learn and grow at work are important (a full 59% said these opportunities were extremely important).
The Purpose at Work global report found that 74% of Millennial job candidates want a job where they can feel like their work matters.
Other recruiting experts say that Millennials value a positive company culture where they’re shown that the higher-ups trust them, and where there is some built-in antidote for burnout, like an open-door policy to speak with management, or mental health breaks. They also place a high value on a sense of corporate social responsibility. Words such as “honesty,” “integrity,” and “truth” resonate with them.
So, to attract millennials, engagement is often more about the purpose than the paycheck.
And that’s it for this week, Troubleshooters! Tune in again next week for Part 2, when we’ll look at what manufacturers can do to create a culture in their business that will help them attract millennials and retain the labor force they need.
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