Webinar: Critical Keys for Recruiting & Retaining Employees in Manufacturing

Date February 16, 2022

Highlights form the February 17, 2022 webinar hosted by Michael B. Ross, Principal, HBK High Performance, and Michael Estrich, Manager, HBK High Performance.

The “Great Resignation” has affected business owners, operators, and entrepreneurs in manufacturing in ways never seen before. More than four million people are quitting their jobs month after month. Business owners are forced to find ways to deliver their products short-staffed, and find new ways to retain their employees. That creates fear: Lose another employee and you’re farther behind in delivering your products.

We can either allow circumstances to dictate what we do or change the circumstances. But while you can’t always change what is, you can learn to work with it. We need to determine how to improve our leadership and our systems to become a place where people love to work versus a place that gives them what they need to survive.


  • Extrinsic motivators: money, prestige, power

    – With a positive perspective, you can conclude that people need money to take care of their fundamental needs. People want to be fairly compensated for the value they provide the organization.

    -People want to be appreciated for the work they do. They want to make an impact and be recognized for doing so.

    -Humans want to know they have a say in how things turn out, that they are free to make choices.

The fundamental urge of these motivators is positive. As leaders we want to focus on the positive aspects of these extrinsic motivators.

  • Intrinsic motivators: progress, connection through relationships, belonging and contributing to purpose. Intrinsic motivators are much more powerful than extrinsic motivators.

    -Progress: Everyone wants to feel they’re making progress in their lives. As leaders we have to help them see that through clearly defined goals, help them sharpen their skills, and give them feedback and encouragement toward their development. People look back on times of struggle and appreciate what they went through. We need to help them understand that through their struggles they will get better. That will benefit the organization. The number one reason people stay with an organization is that it helped them improve.

    -Connection through relationships: Connection with others is how we learn about ourselves and how we impact the organization. Leaders need to invite people to connect in the meaningful work that they do.

    -Belonging and contributing to a purpose: Everyone wants to belong and contribute to a purpose bigger than themselves. Manufacturers might believe all they do is create parts. That’s what they do but not why their business exists. All businesses exist for the same reason: to improve the quality of life for mankind: better parts, safer equipment, innovations that allow us to live more efficiently and effectively. People feel most fulfilled when they are positively affecting others’ lives.

Recognizing the Competitive Landscape

  • Most who have resigned through the Great Resignation are now working for companies in other states than where they live or even in other countries. Remote work has freed people from geographic restrictions. Savvy competitors offer flexible or hybrid work schedules.
  • Follow your competitors and evaluate how they position themselves and their companies. How restrictive or how loose is the wording on their employee applications? Other things to pay attention to are salary and benefits. Use these data points to construct a competitive recruitment process.
  • Where to find people:

    -Start with people you already know, your employees. Good workers want to work with like-minded individuals so let them know about open positions.

    -A good culture is key. Profit-sharing can make your grass look greener.

    -Help department heads and managers by painting a clear picture of the job you’re looking to fill.

    -Determine how much underperformance and departing employees is costing you, how much business you’re losing by not being able to fill orders. The data points will tell you what it’s worth to get and retain the talent you need.

    -Business networks: Talk to your vendors. They’re meeting with hundreds of companies like yours. Let them know your talent needs.

    -Ask the high performers in your industry if they know of people looking for a change.

    -Many former employees are starting their own businesses. They can be a great alternative to hiring an employee.

    -If you don’t have a great track record of hiring talent, consider working with a recruiter.

Practical Tips

  • You have to be proactive in communicating about things in your organization to retain your employees.

    -Know and communicate your purpose proactively in your organization. Remind employees of the purpose for which you exist. Clarify the purpose of your organization. Communicate that in the interview process; it is important that the person you hire have a passion for your purpose. Also reward people for fulfilling your purpose.

    – Be clear about your vision – most organizations don’t have a clearly communicated vision. People want to know how they are supporting the vision of your organization. Fundamental question to answer: where are we going?

    -Know the who, what, and why. People should know who is supposed to do what and why they are supposed to do it. People need clear expectations to feel empowered and in position to be accountable. Making your expectations clear will help you retain employees and explain to recruits exactly why you are bringing them in.

  • You have to be intentional about improvement, in systems and people. You have to let people know what they can do to improve, so evaluate your team constantly.
  • Building a culture of sustainable growth: Systems run businesses and people run systems. Most problems in organization are in their systems. Set expectations for behavioral values; roles and responsibilities; and cooperation, how they treat one another.
  • Empower employees to take ownership. Talk with your employees regularly. Ask questions and listen intently. Be very intent in listening when people are offering suggestions and ask follow-up questions. Then give them chances to practice.

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