Hiring Good People…

Young man working at a warehouse with boxes


The market that we find ourselves in has made recruiting good candidates more difficult than ever for manufacturing companies. Many companies believe that if they can find some competitive edge to get the qualified candidates in the door, they will have their labor issues solved and they will be a step ahead of their competitors. However, hiring a good candidate is only part of the answer. The rest, and most important part is what they do to keep the candidate after they have recruited them.

Changing jobs has become more prevalent than ever before in our society. It is common knowledge that people do not stay in jobs as long as our parents and grandparents did. In fact, the average time a younger person will work for a company is eighteen months to three years and for the entire workforce overall, the average appears to be between three and five years. However, many companies in the manufacturing sector are seeing a large portion of their workforce leave the company within six months of employment. This is a troublesome number that indicates that there is more to the issue than just a generational change.

The first step for a company to combat the problem of turnover is acknowledge that it is happening and that it is a major disrupter of their business. I talk to manufactures around the country often and I can tell you it is a common thread for the management of these companies to not acknowledge that they have an issue. The most common sentiment I hear is that “we do everything the right way, but people just don’t want to work anymore.” I think this way of thinking is a mistake and takes the focus off what one could do about the problem. The most successful companies work to realize what the true issue is and develop plans to address them.

Hourly wages in manufacturing facilities can be on the lower end in certain areas of the country. As a result, many people feel that the pay is the single driving force in their turnover issue. They feel they cannot afford to pay more so they are going to be stuck with a revolving door when it comes to their hourly employees. At LoneStar Labor Management, we have extensively studied this subject and interviewed hundreds of hourly employees to learn what the real motivators of turnover are and we learned that while pay is important, it is nowhere near the top reason that good people leave an employer. Hands down, the number one reason that people leave a manufacturing position is because of the way they are treated by first line supervisors in the manufacturing facilities. Oftentimes, employees are promoted to supervisory roles in manufacturing plants because they came to work and could do the job they were assigned well, and they stayed onboard. Many times, the only concern is to get them where they can put out a product and so they are not trained on the actual management of people. As a result, they often talk down to the people that work for them, cuss at them, or exert their control over the people in other ways by not allowing them to go to the bathroom or have adequate breaks. This creates a negative culture of hostility between the employees and supervisors and so the only answer for the employee is to leave. Changing the culture within is critically important for the employer if they desire to slow the turnover rates within their organization. The good news is that this is something that they can do that does not cost a lot of money and could reap untold rewards throughout the business as a result of lower turnover rates. In today’s world, I believe that every manufacturer should set up a quality training program that is continuously ongoing for their first line supervisors that teaches them how to manage the employees that are entrusted to them in a way that gets production goals met, but also creates a culture that does not make people dread going to work.

If your company is currently experiencing unsustainable turnover rates, I would first look within and really examine how the culture that the hourly employee must operate in really is. If your company needs assistance in recruiting and retaining quality manufacturing employees, feel free to contact us at LoneStar Labor Management, LLC and let us put our many years of manufacturing experience to work for you.

Christopher S. Linton is the CEO of LoneStar Labor Management, LLC headquartered in Houston, Texas, with operations throughout the country in areas such as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Michigan, and others. He has a substantial amount of knowledge and experience in human resources in manufacturing facilities, with a particular focus on the poultry industry.