April 20, 2022

How manufacturing can build a resilient workforce

The manufacturing industry faces a number of challenges, including managing its workforce at a time when workforce shortages are commonplace. Discover several ways that manufacturers can use technology to help enable strategic workforce planning and build a resilient workforce.

Unlike many struggling industries, the manufacturing sector is in the midst of a major post-pandemic recovery. Pent-up demand for consumer products continues to pave the way for continued growth in 2022 and beyond.

Yet, despite these tailwinds, the industry faces a variety of challenges, from ongoing supply chain disruption to navigating digital transformation. Even more important, at a time when labor shortages are commonplace, filling open positions while also retaining existing workers has become an even bigger challenge. Workforce management issues like these impact business continuity for many reasons, especially because of the operational risks they pose for manufacturers.

Solving these workforce issues is critical to keep your workforce productive and competitive while also managing costs. The key is having a sound workforce strategy in place as well as the right underlying technology to support it. Below, we look at several ways manufacturers can use technology for strategic workforce planning to build a more resilient workforce.

1. Empower your people

Organizations that put their people first are fast becoming employers of choice. An important part of doing so is ensuring that the technology your employees use at work is just as convenient and intuitive as the technologies they use in their personal lives. This means adopting technology that’s not only engaging and easy to use, but that also provides real value by giving your people greater control over their schedule, pay, and HR data.

Take scheduling, which is particularly important among today’s workers. According to our Pulse of Talent 2022 survey data, 40% of employees want more flexibility in their schedule. Offering that flexibility is an incredibly powerful way for manufacturers to create an attractive employee value proposition. The best manufacturers empower their employees — whether they’re full-time, seasonal, or gig workers — by providing them more autonomy and control over when they work. Strategic workforce planning tools help you build schedules that meet demand while still giving your workers more flexibility, rather than mandating ineffective schedules that don’t fit into their lives. This way, employees can work the shifts they want and don’t have to adhere to a mandated schedule that may not fit into their life.

2. Build workforce intelligence

In today’s volatile world, you need systems that help make change easier. That’s true for both major disruptive events like a global pandemic and normal day-to-day life.

After all, even the best planned schedules have to be updated on the fly due to factors ranging from unexpected shifts in demand and employee absences to inclement weather.

A strong workforce management system works alongside people and processes to provide better visibility into labor costs, productivity, and engagement — all while connecting workers. You can increase your organization’s operational agility by making informed staffing decisions based on  insights. This level of workforce intelligence is possible when all employee data is on a single platform. Not only does access to this kind of intelligence lead to better decisions, it also helps prevent the common delays and inaccuracies that come with integrating employee data from multiple systems.

3. Become more efficient and data-driven

Alongside materials, equipment, and overhead, labor costs are among manufacturers’ biggest expenses. And they’re steadily on the rise. In 2021, manufacturing workers saw an average pay increase of 6%.

Without the proper planning systems in place, manufacturers can easily go over budget with unplanned overtime and premium pay for shift workers.

HR teams can control excess labor spend by creating and executing demand-based schedules designed to ensure that they always have the right person in the right place at the right time.

4. Mitigate risk by staying on top of ever-changing regulatory requirements

Workplace legislation is in a state of constant flux and spans an array of areas, from fair scheduling regulations to union policies, local and national labor laws, and more. An advanced workforce management tool can help limit the chances of running afoul of those requirements and racking up financial penalties as a result. This helps manufacturers mitigate risk across the different regions they operate in.

Payroll is one of the most regulated functions of any organization, with settlements pertaining to wages and hourly compensation becoming a costly compliance issue for most businesses. With the right workforce management system, you can use the latest regulations to govern your scheduling policies, minimize time review cycles, and quickly identify and correct potential errors. This means managing risk and increasing payroll accuracy.

It's time to bolster workforce resiliency with better technology

While the manufacturing industry is poised for a strong future, one of the keys to unlocking that potential is making your workforce more resilient.

With the help of the right workforce management system, you can advance your strategic workforce planning in a way that helps both your employees and your bottom line. For manufacturers, it’s a way to drive employee satisfaction, make better decisions, and manage risk, all while lowering costs. Meanwhile, for employees, it’s a way to have greater control over their schedule and increased access to information.

With an empowered workforce, this sector can better retain frontline workers through fair and flexible schedules built together, rather than mandating ineffective schedules that don’t fit into their lives. 

The future of manufacturing is bright. However, going forward, the most successful manufacturers will be the ones that use technology to empower their workforce and their business.

Team Ceridian

Our experts provide timely, essential insights and analysis for HCM leaders. We share fresh strategies and practical tips for businesses of all sizes, thoughts on hot topics and industry trends, and the latest legislative updates.

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