No industry has been hit harder by resignations and retirements than the manufacturing industry. The industry’s quit rate tripled during the pandemic, to a point where nearly one in 30 manufacturing employees were leaving their jobs every month, according to national data compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
The manufacturing industry’s quit rates dwarf every other industry, and these trends represent an existential threat to the industry. Manufacturers must work harder than they ever have to reinvent their workplaces, including more flexibility with employee scheduling, enhanced workforce diversity, and introduction of modern digital tools and experiences. Significantly, these offerings must match or exceed what other industries are offering.
To succeed, the first thing that manufacturers should do is recognize that their goal shouldn’t be to fill every vacant FTE. Rather, the pandemic-fueled wave of resignations offers manufacturers an opportunity to critically reexamine what kinds of skills, resources, and expertise they need to build a modern work environment where employees want to stay. Increasingly, manufacturers are realizing that to digitally transform their workplaces, they don’t necessarily need to attract in-house talent. Instead, manufacturers can rely on strategic partners to modernize their workplace, streamline their operations, and achieve greater efficiencies.
Strategic partners can offer unmatched experience, perspective, and expertise—and at a fraction of the cost of recruiting and retaining in-house talent. Moreover, strategic partners can readily scale with the company, filling short-term holes where needed and then stepping back.
Let’s explore three ways that strategic partners can help manufacturing companies address their talent challenges:
1. Advisory Services partners can guide transformational change.
Most manufacturing companies have a big-picture vision for how they want to achieve digital transformation, including some idea of what technology platforms they want to invest in. But may lack the experience necessary to translate this vision into a tangible, optimized implementation strategy. They don’t necessarily know how to set achievable goals, performance benchmarks, and a viable implementation timeline. An advisory services partner can help lead manufacturing companies through the full business transformation journey.
Like a knowledgeable tour guide, an advisory services partner tells the company where all of the key opportunities, decision points, and risks lie, and proactively offers best-practices strategies, guidance, and recommendations for achieving sustainable organizational change. If the organization needs an assessment of their technology capacity and what kinds of technologies they should be investing in, an advisory services partner can provide it. Along the way, the advisory services partner takes the time to understand each business’s goals, priorities, and capacity for digital transformation. Their ultimate contribution is developing and executing a clear digital transformation strategy and implementation roadmap to expeditiously reach the company’s desired endpoints.
2. A Center of Excellence (CoE) partner can construct a digital transformation framework.
While an advisory services partner focuses on the nuts and bolts of delivering digital transformation, many manufacturing companies could also benefit from an internal Center of Excellence to help align their IT initiatives with their business processes. Often we see the need arise during a transformation type project where you are executing, and also staying fully operational. This means teams across the company need support as they plan and align their operations with the goals and timing of the new digital transformation initiative. Meanwhile, as various teams begin learning about the digital transformation changes being planned, they will often ask to engage with the project team—essentially, to customize and tweak the implementation plans to better meet their own needs and goals. For all of these cases, manufacturing companies can turn to a partner to help them build a Center of Excellence (CoE).
A CoE provides a range of governance, implementation, change, and risk management support across the entire organization during digital transformation. When a company takes on a CoE partner, this partner not only can help staff the CoE with digital transformation experts, but also can identify and recruit in-house talent to step into CoE roles. Furthermore, the in-house CoE talent needs reskilling and upskilling to be successful; thus, a CoE partner also takes care of training and empowering these teams to serve as CoE advisers and leaders.
3. Managed Services partners can provide specialized, on-demand support.
During digital transformation, the support and expertise that manufacturing companies need can vary wildly. At some stages, the company may need to handle a massive number of IT tickets and individual requests for support. At other stages, the company may need a large DevOps team to rapidly build and deploy a series of custom features and capabilities. When companies need this type of specialized support, it’s often a short-term need or an intermittently recurring need. In other words, it’s impractical to invest in full-time employees.
A Managed Services partner is an ideal, cost-effective alternative, offering scalable, on-demand support at just the times that the company needs it. Moreover, a Managed Services partner frees up in-house teams’ time to focus on higher-value work, and brings a wealth of expertise and experience that in-house teams cannot match. Finally, the best Managed Services partners provide flexible options, where unused service hours automatically carry forward and service requests automatically get routed to specialized teams.
Investing in digital transformation is one of the most important strategies that manufacturers can take to make their workplace more attractive to employees. But the journey to achieve sustainable, meaningful change is a long road that can stretch the resources and expertise of in-house staff. Strategic partners can readily step in, helping to guide development and implementation of digital change initiatives, build a Center of Excellence (CoE) that can provide structured tactical support, and offer specialized, on-demand support at the times when it’s needed most.
Simplus specializes in helping manufacturing companies digitally transform their workplaces to attract and retain talent. We offer industry-leading Advisory Services, CoE services, and Managed Services. To learn more about how we partner with manufacturing industries to achieve transformative change, please reach out to us today. We look forward to helping you leverage the power of partnerships to meet all of your goals.