This pulls excerpts from our podcast, Inspiring Innovation: Leaders in Manufacturing featuring Al Frost. To watch our podcast episode, please visit Inspiring Innovation: Leaders in Manufacturing Episode 7 or subscribe to our channel on your favorite podcast platform.
Manufacturing has faced, and continues to face, many ongoing challenges. Recent disruptions in supply chains, evolving manufacturing landscapes, and changing processes have created a high stakes environment. Other challenges affect HR such as securing a workforce and low unemployment. At Polo Custom Products, our HR team has been navigating these complexities well by proactively addressing certain challenges.
Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent in Manufacturing
Our company recognizes that the current market conditions, marked by incredibly low unemployment rates, demand innovative HR strategies. With unemployment rates hovering around 2.7% in certain areas, the challenge is not just hiring new talent but also retaining existing employees. To attract and keep valuable employees here at Polo, we have implemented creative initiatives such as engagement surveys, benefits reviews, and employee referral programs. We have analyzed our recruitment sources through yield analysis, identifying job boards and employee referral programs as top performers.
We also understand the importance of personal engagement, where our top executives interact with every new associate. We personally meet and greet each new associate whenever possible and remind them to refer people they know who would be a good fit for our industry. It’s a win for both parties.
Certain retention strategies, including tailored development plans for our employees, competitive pay, and annual benefit reviews have played a part in our success.
Development of Careers in Manufacturing
Professionals in manufacturing, especially engineers and project managers, are incredibly valued in the workforce. However, there are ways to stand apart from the rest. At Polo, we always encourage continuous skill development. We recommend pursuing leadership courses, psychology classes, or other soft skills critical for success, such as conflict management. An individual’s technical expertise can be complemented by understanding the human aspect of interactions and relationships, which really is foundational for success in any career, not just manufacturing. Especially if one hopes to grow in their career and transition into a managerial role. At Polo, we offer processes where HR will help coach individuals on some of these skills, but developing your own skill advancement can set one apart.
These sorts of skills will help in the transition from a technical role to a managerial position. There are other things as well that new managers can work on or act on to be really good leaders. Our HR team advises new managers to prioritize team meetings, individual interviews with direct reports, and personalized communication styles. Coaching, teaching, and providing regular feedback are essential in nurturing a productive team. At Polo, we understand that effective management goes beyond technical proficiency, and we try to embrace that mindset through our leadership.
HR Initiatives at Polo
We have introduced a groundbreaking initiative at Polo Custom Products called the Tiers Program. This program aims to bridge the gap between HR and manufacturing by revolutionizing training for production technicians. Traditionally, new hires received minimal training, leading to quality issues and inefficiencies. The Tiers Program introduces comprehensive training, certification tests, and performance indices. It requires employees to study, understand the big picture, who the customer is, what are all the different parts of the product, what is it that they are tasked to do on that line, why is it important etc. Then employees go through live performance testing for about a week where they are closely monitored. There are three tiers they can advance through, each one providing a pay increase and additional certification.
By intertwining HR expertise with manufacturing knowledge, this program ensures that employees receive in-depth training, improving overall productivity and product quality.
One standout initiative of Polo Custom Products is our corporate wellness program. Being self-insured allows us to aggregate health data, offering insights into our workforce’s overall health. This data-driven approach helps us design wellness initiatives tailored to our employees’ needs. From education sessions to exercise programs and financial incentives for healthy behaviors, the program promotes a positive and engaged workforce. We emphasize the positive impact of such initiatives on company culture and employee engagement.
HR in the manufacturing sector is not just about hiring and firing; it’s a strategic cornerstone for building engaged and high-performing teams. As demonstrated by our initiatives at Polo Custom Products, the integration of HR expertise with manufacturing knowledge is key to navigating the complexities of the modern manufacturing landscape. By investing in employee development, personalized management styles, innovative recruitment, and creative training, companies can thrive in today’s competitive environment, ensuring a prosperous future for both the organization and its workforce.
You can view our open careers and learn more about our company culture by visiting our career page.