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HR’s New Frontier: Retention, Part 2 T


he Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest jobs report has reinforced the situation described in June’s

CEO Journal: U-3 unemployment continues to fall, but the U-6 measure remains much higher, so much so that the U.S. labor participation rate is now at its lowest level in nearly 40 years. Tis data reminds us that our industry is faced with a markedly diminished and significantly different pool of em- ployment candidates. Tis reality, com- bined with the extremely high cost to hire and train new employees, requires metalcasters to redouble their efforts to retain those they are able to hire. Retention has always been a chal-

lenge for our industry, and it’s made more complicated these days by the fact that non-traditional populations including the poor, non-English speakers, women and minorities are ar- guably the most fertile ground for recruitment. Recruiting from these groups requires different approaches, skills and techniques other than those our industry is accustomed to using. Retaining these employees is difficult but not impossible, and requires us to think about robust onboarding programs, remedial education and GED support, transportation to and from work, on- site child and/or elder care, and other new programs. A possible bright spot on the

know have success partnering with high school guidance counselors and local college placement staff to directly approach each year’s graduates with a personal appeal to enter the manufac- turing workforce rather than incurring large debts to obtain a college degree of uncertain value. Interestingly, it turns out that little is as important to recruiting and retaining young people today as safety. For this reason, investments in staff, technology and high visibility safety programming can benefit existing em- ployees and, also, turbo-charge recruit- ment and retention successes. Tis is a true win-win, as safety-related invest- ments are good for the business, good for everyone who already works there,

Modernizing HR is as important as upgrading quality and manufacturing

and good for recruiting and retaining new employees too. Retention in today’s world also

recruitment and retention landscape is that young people are far more open minded today about not attending college than they have been. It’s also a fact that some high school grads who aren’t sold on college are inclined to drop out of the workforce, often after trying college, if they are not offered a clear alternative in the form of a direct, personal appeal. Metalcasters should take note of these facts and emulate the Germans, who lead the world in directing high school grads into manu- facturing. A number of companies I

48 | MODERN CASTING August 2015

requires that collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) be modernized to support work force growth and devel- opment. Programs to boost retention should be added, and obstacles to retention need to be removed. On the incentive side, longer probationary pe- riods, apprenticeship-type programs, pay for skills (i.e., training-based pay), flex-time and job sharing are options today’s potential workers value highly, but they are either prohibited or made difficult by many CBAs. Also, and in general, anything that can be done to make work and working less rigid and more flexible will be good for retaining new workers (and good for everyone else, too).

Removing obstacles to retention begins when the existing workforce stops scaring new recruits off because they are somehow different—a differ- ent gender, age, skin color, education level, or speak a different language. In other words, the culture of work needs to become a welcoming one, and CEOs can help create such a cul- ture by working to change the CBA, implementing a mentoring program (including extra pay for mentors), and otherwise creating onboarding programs that encourage existing employees to behave in a welcom- ing manner. Monthly all-employee meetings, at which the CEO provides business performance and other infor- mation of interest as well as a forum for questions and dialog, are another important step in this direction. In these ways and others, CEOs can create a culture that greatly improves retention. Just as they have done

in quality, manufactur- ing and elsewhere in their businesses, CEOs need to modernize the HR depart- ment by investing along

the lines mentioned here as well as in more and better HR staff. HR lead- ers need to be better educated, more broadly experienced and far more proactive than many have been. Tey also need to be better supported by a staff that can manage today’s heavier HR-related workload and successfully navigate a different and far more chal- lenging type of recruiting, onboarding and retention work. And by “invest,” I mean more than just increased spend- ing. I mean investing staff time as well as money with the clear expecta- tion of eliminating the debilitating costs of recruiting, training and failing to retain new employees.

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