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Industry Outreach

Building a Winning Team

Metalcasters can improve employee retention by emphasizing a mutual investment between management and the workforce. NICHOLAS LEIDER, ASSOCIATE EDITOR


he old cliché says you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. But

that’s not the case when it comes to many human resources departments in manufacturing and, more specifi- cally, metalcasting. The demand for workers to fill jobs has been a real concern for the industry in the last decade. Many metalcasting facilities, in response to a relatively shallow labor pool, have emphasized pro- grams and initiatives to boost reten- tion of current employees to limit turnover and increase experience. According to the U.S. Bureau

of Labor Statistics, American manufacturing hit its low of 11.45 million jobs in early 2010. In the six years since, nearly a million jobs have been created. Metalcasting in particular has seen an increase in reshoring efforts, with a majority of these jobs returning from China, according to the non-profit Reshor- ing Initiative. Still, while positions may be available with metalcasters looking to hire individuals, the industry is challenged with not only finding capable employees, but retaining

them for an extended period of time. “I believe that there is a short-

age,” said Ken Kurek, president and CEO, Waukesha Foundry Inc., Waukesha, Wisconsin. “This is espe- cially bad in highly skilled positions such as patternmakers, maintenance mechanics and welders, as well as technical positions such as engineers and metallurgists.”

Working on Retention Metalcasters require specific skill

sets for many positions on the shop floor. Te candidate and available position have to be an appropriate match for it to last. In a basic sense, it’s about not placing a round peg in a square hole. “We need to be sure to attract potential employees who have the right attitude and aptitude to be suc- cessful in those positions,” Kurek said. But employee retention can be

much more complex than matching an available position with a qualified candidate. Every employer, metalcast- ing facilities included, can maintain an acceptable level of employee retention by actively engaging its workforce. “We really try to show employees

that there are career paths available,” said Mary Jo Eayrs, human resources manager, Brillion Iron Works, Brillion, Wisconsin. “We want workers to talk to us about advancing within the com- pany. We want to encourage growth from within.” In addition to professional

improvement, metalcasters can display commitment to employees by empha- sizing safety procedures and improving working conditions, such as lighting and cleanliness. Employers can ensure safety at their metalcasting facilities by strictly enforcing the proper use of personal protection equipment and offering employees comprehensive safety training. In addition, supervisors should

make all shop floor employees aware of any possible methods of advance- ment, including training and educa- tion. Such development can lead to increased wages. “We constantly reassess the com-

pensation and benefits in order to stay competitive with other companies within the industry,” Kurek said. Employees who see engagement

from supervisors and managers are likelier to remain motivated.

April 2016 MODERN CASTING | 33

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