In a recent conversation with an Operations Director, he was describing how his breakroom has grown quiet over the past few years. The change in breakroom atmosphere is not due to a poor work environment or staffing issues but rather to how everyone now interacts with their phones instead of each other. This story really brought home the fact that the workforce is changing right in front of us and fast, as I can relate to a few years ago when a manager could not get a word in edgewise in the breakroom – even when he was announcing he bought lunch for everyone!
The workforce is changing right now because of technology but also because the baby boomers are cycling out of the labor pool. We’ve all seen the recent reports telling us that ~500k manufacturing jobs are open right now and that number will grow to 2.4 million over the next ten years. In the workforce, this means that Millennials are now taking over as the majority generation of the workforce for staffing manufacturing and distribution businesses. In order for this workforce shortfall to not contract growth, businesses need a different approach to engage the younger and more tech-friendly Millennials.
Millennials have grown up with technology in their hands and have proven that they love flexibility, so businesses need to meet them halfway to find the right workers among the crowd for staffing an operational labor pool. The solution is to broadcast work opportunities onto their mobile phone via an app when the labor demand arises. This new approach takes the business off the recruiting / onboarding / training treadmill to maintain a certain level of staffing and instead sets the business up to access skilled workers on-demand and offer people flexible work opportunities as production needs require. Directors and Managers should stop fighting the headwinds and take advantage of this new operational tool.
The real operating model shift comes from accepting no viable solution exists in traditional hiring channels to develop and maintain a flexible workforce at scale that minimizes workforce turnover and overtime. Businesses will find the right amount of staffing when they need it by developing a skilled labor pool of workers to power growth and execute operations. We believe this approach will build a reliable labor pool for manufacturing and distribution businesses by providing diverse, flexible work opportunities for workers, including Millennials.