Ratish Jha

People-first strategies for building a strong and resilient manufacturing workforce | Ratish Jha| President HR | Hikal Ltd

Ratish JhaThe manufacturing sector operates within the dynamic and ever-changing realm of global markets. Despite the robust growth in this sector, the industry has been dealing with multifaceted challenges, ranging from persistent supply chain disruptions to the necessity of navigating the intricate pathways to self-sufficiency. In addition to these external challenges, the manufacturing industry grapples with the swift evolution of technology, spanning from automation to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. While these technological advancements offer the promise of enhanced efficiency and innovation, they simultaneously redefine the landscape of workforce management. According to a recent KPMG report, the reason for focusing on social issues among ESG objectives is the growing need for skilled workers: 84 percent of CEOs say they plan to increase headcount in the next 3 years. However, since COVID-19 struck, they have had even more difficulty than usual in hiring them. Forty-five percent say they are investing in developing the workforce’s skills to meet their growth objectives — and even more, 55 percent, say they are investing in new technology.

Solving these intricate workforce challenges is pivotal for maintaining a productive and competitive manufacturing workforce while also effectively managing costs. The cornerstone of success lies in the implementation of a robust workforce strategy, coupled with the right technological infrastructure to support it.

Invest in Continuous Training and Development

Manufacturing technologies are advancing at an unprecedented pace. To remain competitive, manufacturing companies must ensure that their workforce is equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is through continuous training and development programs. Invest in training programs that keep employees up to date with the latest manufacturing technologies and processes. This can include certifications, on-the-job training, or access to online learning resources. Encourage cross-training among your employees not only increases their versatility but also helps them understand the broader manufacturing process, fostering a sense of belonging and purpose.

Create a Safe and Inclusive Workplace

Establishing a secure and inclusive work environment serves as the cornerstone for a robust manufacturing workforce. To achieve this, it is vital to enforce rigorous safety protocols and supply employees with the necessary safety kits. Consistent safety training and regular equipment maintenance are indispensable for upholding a workplace’s safety. Furthermore, fostering a workplace culture that celebrates diversity and inclusion is essential. Encourage inclusive hiring practices and ensure that every employee, regardless of their background, gender, or age, has equal opportunities. The implementation of wellness programs, mental health support, and initiatives promoting work-life balance is crucial for ensuring that employees flourish both personally and professionally.

Empower and Engage Employees

Boosting the resilience and motivation of the manufacturing workforce is closely tied to their empowerment and engagement. When employees perceive that their contributions are valued, they are more inclined to take ownership of their work, thus bolstering the company’s success. This can be achieved through regular feedback sessions, suggestion boxes, or even involving employees in problem-solving activities. Moreover, recognizing and rewarding your employees for their diligent efforts and notable achievements plays a pivotal role. Employee recognition programs, specifically designed for this purpose, hold the potential to elevate morale and motivation.

Building Workforce Intelligence

With technological advancements and changes in the market, businesses need to adapt quickly to stay competitive. A well-designed training program can help ensure employees have the necessary skills to respond to these changes and drive the business forward. The rapid pace of technological change means that employees need to stay up to date with new tools and software. Organizations can provide technical training and resources to help employees stay current with new technologies and processes. Learning and development can encourage a culture of continuous improvement, where employees are constantly learning and looking for ways to improve their performance.

Building a strong and resilient manufacturing workforce is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment. By investing in training and development, creating a safe and inclusive workplace, empowering and engaging employees, and supporting work-life balance, manufacturing companies can ensure their workforce is well-prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. Ultimately, a people-first approach is not only a smart business strategy but also a moral imperative that leads to a brighter future for both companies and their employees.