by   |    |  Estimated reading time: 4 minutes  |  in AI, Circularity, Data Monetization, Digital Transformation, IFS Cloud   |  tagged , , , ,

Talent, especially in the manufacturing sector, does not grow on trees. A recent survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) reports at least 78 per cent of firms in multiple sectors spanning construction, production and manufacturing, and logistics sectors are facing “significant issues” recruiting new staff.

In the UK, there are some 1.3 million unfilled jobs in the economy, and fewer people in the workforce than before the pandemic. In the US, the UKG Workforce Activity Report reveals that, post pandemic, nearly two in three manufacturers (63%) are “struggling” to fill critical labor gaps. In this blog I’ll look at several ways pro-active manufacturers can strategically invest in their workforces to reverse the talent gap, and ways that new connected worker technology can help to reduce workforce attrition whilst improving safety and efficiency on the shopfloor.

Attacking attrition: taking a strategic view

Our recent IDC research found 45% of global manufacturers see “improving the worker experience” as a high business priority in the next 2 years (Source: IDC / IFS Global Future of Manufacturing Survey, November 2022, n=160). In response, there are several ways pro-active manufacturers can strategically invest in their workforces to reverse the talent gap. Examples include:

  • Create knowledge transfer programs: implementing structured knowledge transfer programs can enable experienced workers to mentor and train younger employees, passing on their skills and expertise. For example, the UKG Workforce Activity Report found employee cross-training has become a greater focus for nearly three in four manufacturers (73%), and one in three now offer mentorship programs as a way to encourage knowledge-sharing between seasoned workers and newer employees.
  • Provide workforce training and development: by investing in training and development programs, organizations not only improve employees’ skills; they also enhance their job satisfaction, reducing churn whilst increasing their value to the company.
  • Enhance safety measures: implementing robust safety protocols and providing training prioritizes employee safety and creates a safer work environment.
  • Ensure competitive compensation and benefits: in the current market, offering competitive wages and benefits packages is essential to attract and retain skilled talent.
  • Offer flexible scheduling options: access to more flexible scheduling options can be a key way to improve employees’ work-life balance, build loyalty and reduce burn out.
  • Promote career growth: creating opportunities for career advancement within the organization ensures employees remain motivated to stay and build their careers.
  • Introduce employee engagement initiatives: recognition programs and team-building activities can both boost employee engagement and morale.
  • Embrace technology: successfully embracing automation and advanced technologies starts with ensuring that existing employees receive the necessary training and support. Likewise, established training regimes will also attract younger digital natives to enter the manufacturing sector confident that they can still build and maximize their digital skills.

Technology to the rescue?

Well, quite possibly. Because embedding technology by involving workers in the process will allow manufacturers to create a more positive shop floor worker experience. That’s a win-win for everyone: increased efficiency, engagement, job satisfaction, and overall success in manufacturing operations. In fact, four in five manufacturers (81%) say investing in the workforce is a key component of their digital-transformation strategy, and just as many say their frontline managers already have the right tools and resources to help employees advance along their career paths.

Offering the workforce a ‘connected worker experience’ has the opportunity to truly transform working on the shop floor. And there are several ways technology can help. For example:

  • Use digital work instructions: here, instructions and work orders are displayed on tablets or wearable devices, eliminating the need for paper copies. It means that shop floor workers have access to up-to-date and easily understandable tasks, reducing errors and increasing efficiency.
  • Use digital communication tools: implementing digital communication tools like instant messaging or team collaboration apps allow real-time communication among workers, supervisors, and support staff. As well as enhancing teamwork, this approach also encourages valuable feedback. For example, staff can highlight health and safety problems or production inefficiencies immediately they see them and suggest safer or more effective ways of working. This is especially useful for companies trying to meet sustainability goals and enhance overall ESG performance. Employees can also offer feedback around how the technology is meeting their everyday needs.

Bring your talent together

In an era where we are seeing a proliferation of real-time shop floor connectivity and machines talking to each other, we also need to ensure that workers can do the same, sharing vital information that augments rather than hinders their experience and productivity.

Ultimately, ‘any’ new hire should be able to hit the floor running supported by the experience and knowledge that modern tools and technology are able to share, capture and create. Poka is an acclaimed Connected Worker Platform now acquired by IFS that gives frontline workers access to the knowledge, skills and support they need to perform tasks safely, and to standard. To learn more about how workers are able to perform tasks, solve problems, collaborate with others, and learn continuously, visit

To get a better insight into what is driving the need for new workforce strategies, read part one of our two-part series, where I’ll look at factors navigating the crisis, the impact of failing to retain skills, and how poor employee training is preventing companies from advancing their digital initiatives and driving business transformation.

Read now: The fight for talent: why manufacturers must transform the worker experience to thrive

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