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When recruiting strategies are not enough to fill jobs


Finding and retaining competent workers are great concerns for the manufacturing industry.  Whether a company is planning growth or not, the concern is the same.

While attending the « Usine 4.0 » conference in Montreal,  the challenges of labour shortage came up in conversations with business leaders and in all presentations.  It is obvious that this challenge has the potential to slow growth and reduce the ability to compete.

In fact, for many reasons, tough times are ahead for recruiting both, skilled and non-skilled workers, in most industries.

What can be done to attract and retain workers for key positions?

 6 Steps for a better strategy

  1. Clarify your business strategy and your vision for the future
  2. Identify the impact on work (what will be eliminated, modified or added)
  3. Redefine the division of work to be done and the workflow (roles, responsibilities, jobs, new technology )
  4. Identify new skills and related training
  5. Examine the company’s workforce profile ( skills, age, retirements, retention rates..)and identify critical issues
  6. Identify strategies to reduce vulnerabilities and fill key positions

With a clear vision of the future, you will have a better picture of your workforce needs, the number of workers and the required skills.  You may find that your needs are different (numbers, roles, competencies).

With this strategy, you will invest in targeted recruitment, the development of relevant skills for the future and in new programs, such as succession planning, focused on your future-based needs.

Instead of recruiting staff skilled for positions that will change in the near-future, and will eventually leave,  you will increase your retention rate of new-recruits and key employees. 

Furthermore, labour-related costs will be used strategically, efficiently, and in line with business objectives.


How to identify key employees?


In times of uncertainty and change, we need to know who will step up to the plate, and contribute  to facing tomorrow’s challenges. Now, who are these employees?  Have they been with the company for many years or are they new recruits? More often than not, we tend to come to the wrong conclusions. Inevitably, it all depends on our vision for the future.


Part I :  Determine your plan for the future

In order to identify key employees, you will need a clear road map for growth.  A vision of where you want your company to be in the next few years and an action plan to achieve your vision, including who will do what and when.

Your business strategy for the coming years as well as your action plan to achieve growth and implement change will help identify the impact on employees and their work, such as :

  • New tasks and work methods

Will certain tasks be modified or eliminated?  Are changes to roles and responsibilities, part of the plan?  Will training and coaching be required to succeed?

  • Implementing new technology

Is the purchase of new equipment required? Will staff need training? 

Your banker or investor will like to know that your key employees are on board..

Part II:   7 steps to your action plan

Once you have determined your road map for growth, effectively communicating it and engaging your employees will make a significant difference in achieving it.

  1. Communicate your vision for the future to all teams in many different ways (formal and informal meetings), with regular updates
  2. Clarify and communicate your expectations :  expected behaviour, performance
  3. Give voice to employee concerns
  4. Foster the identification of stumbling blocks and problem-solving
  5. Clarify and explain changes to the work to be done, and to roles and responsibilities
  6. Engage and inspire employees to contribute to small projects connected to the plan of the future and acknowledge success
  7. Promote skill development and value continuous learning (training, coaching)

So, who are your key employees?

A key employee could be a new or a long-standing employee.  Seniority is definitely not a factor. It is the attitude towards change that will give you a good indication.

Throughout the 7 steps, notice the employees who are open to change and exemplify team work.  Be aware of those who take intiative in identifying roadblocks and finding solutions.

Finally, discover those who have the potential and the interest to learn and to grow.

Your key employees will surface if they are well-informed and engaged in your growth plan.  They are your best allies for success!