How to retain and engage employees in the manufacturing sector
As confidence returns to the market there is one negative aspect – and that is handling growth. From a business perspective we have become experts at tightening our belts and managing to do more with less. Now, we need to expand quickly to deal with an influx of orders and potential growth opportunities. As business leaders this is what we’re concerned with. But have we really looked at how employees are feeling?
For years people have sat tight in their jobs, fearful of making a move when the future is uncertain. Many would have seen their friends and colleagues made redundant and stepped into the breach taking on more responsibilities. They can only be pushed so far. They need support. They need to know that their organisation is looking out for them. If it isn’t, employees will start to look elsewhere and manufacturers could be facing a tidal wave of resignations.
In a survey that Festo commissioned in 2014, we asked manufacturing employees about their own jobs. 25% of those surveyed are looking to leave their jobs in the forthcoming year, with 46% saying they believed it was time for a change. An additional 35% are looking to leave for a pay rise or promotion, and 15% want to leave because they don’t like their boss.
On top of this, another 15% are going to be leaving as they reach retirement age. With manufacturers already experiencing a skills shortage and loss of knowledge through experienced engineers and skilled shop floor technicians leaving their posts, this could further increase the skills gap. Manufacturers are already suffering enough, so this is likely to cause further problems with skills and recruitment. 82% of employers said their organisations were suffering from a skills shortage with just under half (46%) stating that the situation had worsened over the previous 12 months.
The manufacturing industry needs to stem the tidal flow of losing people and shore up their internal ranks, quickly and effectively. Finding skilled employees is difficult enough so the first point of call is to make certain manufacturers keep the staff they have.
When discussing recruitment and retention, the issue of remuneration always raises its head. Daniel Karpantschof recently spoke at the Royal Society of Arts and has produced a superb video ‘How Motivation is driven by Purpose – and not Monetary Incentives’. He draws on research which shows that monetary rewards only lead to better performance when employees are engaged in simple and straight-forward tasks. For employees who are in skilled positions and undertake conceptual or creative thinking, using monetary incentives actually leads to a decline in performance.
Tips for retention
- Paint a clear and exciting vision for the future. Employees stay longer when they buy into the future of the business and are excited about the opportunities for their own growth and development.
- Leaders and managers need to make sure that every employee is clear about how their role contributes to growth and success. Changing business objectives into personal objectives and measuring these continuously can achieve this. Tools such as a Balanced Score Card work particularly effectively.
- Assess your Employee Engagement strategies. Improving employee engagement is a long-term strategy but it increases productivity and enables organisations to grow faster and more sustainably.
- Recruitment is often reactive. A person leaves and there is a mad dash to find a replacement. It is far more effective to put in place a strategy that continuously looks for highly talented and skilled employees.
- Engaged employees are the best advocates for your company. Motivate them to refer and recommend your organisation to others.
- Market yourself externally as a company that is growing and has a clear vision of where it wants to be.
- The best staff will already be in employment and are never those proactively looking for a position. Tempt them to be in direct contact with you.
- Be sensible with your job descriptions. Because we suffer from a skills gap, there is a temptation to combine roles and responsibilities. After all, having one person do two people’s jobs makes financial sense. Unfortunately it won’t help your recruitment and finding someone with a broad skill set across diverse areas will impede your recruitment and can damage your reputation as an employer.
There is much to be positive about with renewed confidence in the market. Now is the time to focus on engaging your employees, retaining them for the long-term and proactively looking to recruit. Otherwise, manufacturers could witness a winter of discontent.
Festo has produced a White Paper on Employee Engagement which can be downloaded at http://www.festo-didactic.co.uk/gb-en/training-solutions/employee-engagement/
Hexagon Revolutionises Manufacturing Design Process
A global leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions, Hexagon recently announced that complex CFD (computational fluid dynamics) simulations can now be completed with the help of the world’s fastest supercomputer, Fugaku. Before this breakthrough, CFD simulations were far too expensive and time-consuming to run. Now, however, engineers can use these high-detail simulations to explore new ideas, iterate their designs, and optimise next-gen aircraft and electric vehicle manufacturing.
Thanks to Hexagon, manufacturers can now analyse what they’re up against before starting their build process—with one-third the energy use of traditional simulations and a fraction of the cost. This is only the latest step in Hexagon’s mission to use design and engineering data to speed up smart manufacturing. As the company wrote: ‘The idea of putting data to work is part of Hexagon’s DNA’.
What Are CFD Simulations?
Simply put, they’re simulations so complex and powerful that engineers usually have to spend hours upon hours simplifying their designs. 90% of an engineer’s time can centre around this task—but not with Fugaku-powered simulations. Now, original designs can be fed into the simulation software, reaching a much closer approximation of reality.
With the ARM-powered Fugaku supercomputer, Hexagon’s Cradle CFD clients can now reduce simulation cost, conserve valuable energy, and integrate high-detail simulations into their daily operations. At a time when the automotive and aerospace industries are racing to bring safe and sustainable transport options to market, in fact, CFD simulations could be the key to success.
How Does CFD Change the Game?
As auto manufacturers transition to electric vehicles, they must understand how design adjustments will affect the vehicle in real-time. Instead of physically iterating their blueprints, they’d rather work it out in theory. With CFD, engineers can now pre-test critical safety, performance, and longevity features—for example, how aerodynamics will interact with energy efficiency, or how thermal management will operate under a range of parameters. Essentially, CFD simulations speed up the design process and cut down on costly mistakes.
Said Roger Assaker, President of Design & Engineering in Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division: ‘Simulation holds the key to innovations in aerospace and eMobility. Advances such as the low-power Fugaku supercomputing architecture are one of the ways we can tap into these insights without costing the Earth, and I am delighted by what our Cradle CFD team and our partners have achieved’.
How Did Testing Unfold?
- Prototyped a typical family car. This is only possible with enhanced computing power. The car model consisted of 70 million elements using 960 cores and was simulated until it reached a steady-state using the RANS equation over 1000 cycles.
- Simulated transonic compressible fluid around an aeroplane. Made up of approximately 230 million elements, the simulation used 4,000 nodes using 192,000 computing cores and relied on 48,000 processes via Message Passing Interface (MPI).
Tomohiro Irie, Hexagon’s Director of R&D for Cradle CFD, commented on the recent progress: ‘I expect that these technical developments will contribute to making the power of Fugaku more accessible for general use, bringing huge freedom and improved insights to engineering teams solving tomorrow’s problems today’.
Overall, Hexagon intends to continue driving product innovation forward, with smart manufacturing that adapts to conditions in real-time, pursues perfect quality, and optimises designs for zero waste. And there’s little doubt about it. With 20,000 employees in 50 countries, coupled with Fugaku’s supercomputing capabilities, Hexagon is uniquely poised to succeed.