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3 Ways To Manage Costs and...

3 Ways To Manage Costs and Improve Workforce Planning in the Manufacturing Industry

The manufacturing industry faces uncertainty and a need to innovate. Learn how to use workforce planning to drive investment, skills, and productivity.

With U.K. manufacturing output falling in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, leaders and businesses in the manufacturing industry are seeking answers to a variety of workforce planning questions. 

At the same time, a technology revolution is pushing many manufacturers to broaden what they do, encouraging them to become service providers through the development of their own proprietary technology. Doing both at the same time is a high wire act.

3 ways to apply workforce insights to manufacturing teams

Getting your hands on the right people data enables you to answer knotty questions, and make quicker, better decisions. Here are three important considerations to help manufacturing leaders leverage people analytics:

1. Have bigger conversations with better data

CFOs, CHROs, HRDs, and other senior leaders must communicate with each other more regularly. These conversations will only be truly effective when leaders collectively look at key people metrics that support current and future productivity. Leaders should continuously ask and evaluate people-centric questions, like:

  • Are the wages the company offers its workers realistic? 

  • What does benchmark data show for similar roles in the area? 

  • Are the current training and development initiatives aligned with the skills the business is likely to rely on in the future? 

  • Do employees—especially top performers—value these training programs? 

All manufacturing businesses aspire to cost-conscious business transformation. This requires a sharp focus on ensuring the right skills are in place, and that the right technology investments are made. In a recent survey, we found that a third of employees who changed jobs did so to learn new skills. Providing the right training and development programs can motivate employees and keep people from moving on.

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Doing this well, though, requires the continuous measurement and monitoring of the success of these initiatives—and the ability to track it back to business outcomes. Building these capabilities into the business is a job itself. HR technology and people analytics platforms can make this easier and faster. 

2. Strategic skills reduce costs

A manufacturer that wants to develop and transform alongside market trends and customer demands needs to understand what skills they already have in the workforce. With the recent acquisition of Boostrs’s assets, Visier added a robust skills intelligence engine to its people analytics platform. Utilizing this powerful combination, businesses can discover and accurately measure the skills of their entire workforce to make informed plans for the future. 

This is a foundational step to solve manufacturers’ critical needs to acquire, develop, deploy, and retain the skills that will make the greatest impact on the business. Even better, this solution does not require any deployment. Reskilling and developing competencies within existing staff can cost as little as one-sixth of the cost of recruiting new talent.

In an environment of unrelenting cost pressure and the urgent need for change, a manufacturing business needs to assess the depth and coverage of learning and development (L&D) courses available to employees. Some 46% of employees believe their current skill set will become irrelevant by 2024, and 77% of employees are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain.

Crucially, a business needs to be able to quickly understand which training activities to invest in and support and which to cut altogether—because they cost too much, bring little benefit, or some combination of the two. Through data, the savvy manufacturer will know the business impacts of learning courses and be able to map the skills from each back to roles and individual employees.

A manufacturing business needs to be able to quickly understand what training activities to invest in and support, and which to cut altogether.

Getting this right is a significant step toward effective workforce planning within a defined budget. You’ll also make inroads to cracking productivity problems and a more engaged workforce where the key people are less likely to leave. 

3. Talent generates resilience in tough times

Today’s rapidly changing, uncertain, and complex world is disrupting supply chains and threatening some business’s access to markets. Let’s look at an example in the automobile industry. In 2021, Tesla considered taking a stake in commodities trader Glencore in an effort to bring some predictability to their supply of cobalt and lithium to make car batteries. With China controlling the majority of the global market for these materials, the electric vehicle manufacturer wants to mitigate the risk an export ban would pose to its operations. 

Across EMEA, we can observe the same concerns. Eliminating the risks of single points of supply chain failure—and therefore production failure—is an issue increasingly pre-occupying manufacturers everywhere. Solving such problems requires the sustained and dedicated attention of a team rich in diverse talent—on the shop floor, in the boardroom, and in the wider talent pools the business accesses.

To find out more about how your workforce insights can drive investment, skills, and productivity, download The People-First Manufacturer.

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