The single most important asset to any business is its staff. The workforce is the beating heart and living soul of your enterprise, and this is no less true in the connected, digital era than it has ever been.
But as industry evolves, enterprises must adapt to overcome three huge pressures on this most precious commodity:
- Qualified employees are harder to find. I won’t expand much on that, it’s very well-trodden ground and most readers will have experienced issues in hiring the talent they need. I will say though, that the problem is becoming more acute as the global economy grows and experienced engineers retire.
- Job roles are changing. The soul of the industrial skillset – that desire and ability to problem solve - remains the same; but it’s moving towards decisions supported by technology and data, rather than trial and error, or instinct and experience.
- Workers are changing. Millennials have joined the workforce, and so-called ‘Generation Z’ are on their way. We are in the era of "digital natives" in the workplace, those who have grown up with connected consumer technology and who expect all technology to make their life simpler. There is evidence to suggest that this generation has a different attitude to what function a job should have in the overall balance in their life. Millennials are not driven by the same forces that previous generations were - but can businesses in industry adapt enough to be appealing to talent?
The enterprises least affected by these pressures are those that attract the best talent – the businesses that are employers of choice.
Becoming an employer of choice is no small undertaking, but the dividends are huge.
Taking steps to becoming an employer of choice needn’t be complicated, and many of them can be enacted without huge investments.
Here are my key recommendations for managing the three main workforce pressures and becoming an employer of choice in the digital industry era.
If you have a different view, get in touch and share your experiences through the channels below. If you are a millennial or a Generation Z and you want to have your say – here is your chance – we need to learn from you!
- How about plugging your own skills gap? It’s something we’re beginning to see real success with at Rockwell Automation, where we have an EMEA graduate programme for onboarding talent, We deliberately pair new recruits with our most experienced staff, and we’ve seen the benefits go in both directions.
- A modern environment and tools are vital to attracting the best talent – if your plant is old, analogue and inefficient, how are you appealing to the iGeneration? Moreover, your plant needs tech that is simple and intuitive – requiring less specialist skills. So, think in terms of open systems, virtual reality, and integrating consumer technology and platforms.
- Be ethical and inclusive. Really ethical and inclusive. Ethisphere offers great guidance on how to develop a good culture. There is a huge amount of data that suggests diverse workforces are much happier and more productive.
- Don’t settle for lazy characterisations of milllennials – find out about what makes them tick (it might not be about money) and how they can help your transition into the IIoT era. This short report from ManPower Group offers food for thought and may break down some stereotypes.
- Improve employee development. Getting talent in through the door is the first step, but keeping and developing it requires a commitment to encourage people to explore roles and develop within the company. Many of the most lauded employers of choice, such as Google and SAS, take a much flatter approach to the hierarchy and a flexible and collaborative approach to employment. Remember, when it comes to the skillset required in the age of IIoT, these are exactly the companies competing for the talent you need!