While attraction and retention of skilled labor have always been critical concerns for those in manufacturing, the current critically tight job market makes the situation more critical than ever.

Luring qualified candidates to open positions is only half of the battle. Retaining those skilled laborers who accept offers with your company poses as a significant, if not the greatest, challenge.

“Employees can be your most valuable competitive advantage, and implementing proactive human-resource strategies aligned to your business goals will benefit the entire organization. Barring the discovery of a secret cache of journeymen, the only realistic solution is to engage and retain the workers you already have,” reminds Debbie Burkett.

Consider these four strategic approaches that will improve retention.


On-the-job engagement, that sometimes difficult-to-define combination of passion, commitment, and emotional connection that acts as a bonding agent between an employee and his/her job. While it may be difficult to pinpoint with a definition, when engagement is missing, everyone knows it. Conversely, everyone is equally aware of it when a consistent connection happens.

Notes Burkett, “In the pursuit of turnover reduction, it’s important to develop an understanding of the most common components aligned with engagement: leadership, work environment, job design, learning and performance management. Each element is individually valuable and can be strategically aligned and measured for success or modification as necessary.”


Effective onboarding programs can chip away at the unfortunate fact that nearly 40 percent of employees leave within the first year of hire. Vital components to onboarding include—

  • A welcoming atmosphere
  • Accurate job descriptions
  • Courteous, willing assistance from co-workers
  • Easy access to the management team
  • On-the-job training
  • Mentoring opportunities
  • 30-60-90-day check-in meetings

Opportunities to stretch, grow, and take risks

“The most rewarding work experiences are those in which employees can stretch and take appropriate risks,” suggests Tracy Brower. “Create space for people to have creative confidence—the assurance to try new things and roll up their sleeves—whether with new projects or even just new ways of doing the same old task.”

Everyone wins when the prevailing mindset encourages innovative thinking while discouraging punishment for folks whose efforts to think outside of the box fall short of the mark.

Purposeful pursuit of equity

It’s quite simple. People appreciate a commitment to fairness when it comes to assignments, promotions, compensation, and benefits. If an atmosphere of equity is missing, new hires will notice. Rather than making an effort to become part of the team, too often, the new guy/gal will withdraw, negating both internal and external efforts toward job engagement. And we know what happens next, don’t we?

Gillmann Services, Inc. strives to create a supportive, transparent, and safety-conscious working environment where every employee, individually and collectively, can dedicate himself or herself to providing our clients with exceptional workmanship, extraordinary service, and professional integrity. At GSI, we work for you! Give us a call today.