The growing manufacturing skills gap can be filled by developing benefits packages that solve younger workers’ challenges says James Herbert, CEO of Hastee Pay
An ageing workforce is a primary concern in the manufacturing industry. 75% of manufacturers are concerned about an ageing workforce according to a recent YouGov report. The average age of workers in the sector has risen with the majority of the labour pool typically represented by people over the age of 40, therefore, attracting younger workers to the talent pool will be key to ensuring the sector has a stable workforce. But retaining younger workers that are already with the sector must also be a high priority.
The British Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly economic survey found that by the end of 2018, recruitment difficulties in manufacturing were the highest on record. Four-fifths (81%) of manufacturers reported challenges in finding the right staff. A 2019 report from Acas revealed 53% of workers believe procuring the right people with the right skills is the biggest issue faced in their workplace this year. Workplace productivity was identified as the second biggest issue by the survey’s respondents.
For manufacturing organisations, the challenge is attracting and retaining a younger workforce and overcoming barriers to productivity. Research commissioned by Hastee Pay has uncovered a link between financial stress and poor productivity and retention.
The study of over 1,000 workers in the UK found that financial stress causes a quarter of workers to lack concertation at work while 21% admitted to managing repayments during working hours. Clearly financial stress in the workforce is hitting employers in the pocket. Providing greater financial wellbeing support as part of the benefits package could be one way to attract younger workers into the manufacturing sector.
What do younger workers want?
Younger generations are widely regarded as ‘job hoppers’ with one Gallup study revealing workers from the millennial generation are the most likely to regularly switch jobs. However, the same report suggests millennial workers would rather stay with employers longer term but need more compelling reasons to do so. To attract, retain and engage younger workers, manufacturing organisations need to highlight the opportunities that exist within the sector. But they must also ensure they are offering an attractive benefits package.
Not every employer can afford to be as bold as the likes of Google by offering lunches made by professional chefs, yoga classes and biweekly chair massages. But they can offer benefits that provide true value by addressing their day to day challenges. Deemed ‘digital natives’ because they have grown up in the age of technology, it’s important that Millennials and the generations that follow are given digital benefits if they are to find true value in them. These benefits don’t have to come at great expense, with many currently on offer that are of no charge to employers.
The research commissioned by Hastee Pay revealed that 88% of workers take pay frequency into consideration when searching for a new job, so greater financial support could be offered by providing more flexible access to pay. The study also found that 45% of workers would be more likely to stay with an employer that offers more flexibility around payment to help them manage their finances better.
Building a compelling benefits package
Providing flexible access to pay could empower workers to take better control of their finances by providing the opportunity to cover unanticipated expenses by accessing a portion of their earned pay early instead of resorting to high cost borrowing. Typically, people have to source additional funds from an overdraft, credit card or worse, a payday loan to cover unexpected costs when their bank balances are low. 78% of the UK’s workers admit to relying on high cost credit options such as credit cards, overdrafts and payday loans to get by between pay days. But, once you’ve entered that debt cycle, it can be difficult to get out of.
This can be supplemented with further financial support such as sharing financial tips and advice with workers on a regular basis. Some companies even extend this to booking in a financial consultant for drop-in sessions for mortgage and savings advice on a quarterly or half-yearly basis. But the broader benefits package should extend to lifestyle perks such as exclusive discounts on meals out and leisure activities and healthy living tips. Budget should also be allocated to exciting perks such as summer parties and a calendar of social staff events.
By implementing a benefits package that attracts and retains younger workers by realistically addressing their needs, manufacturing organisations can thrive from a vibrant, healthy and productive company culture.
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