Manufacturers Career Development Critical for Engagement & Retention

New York Times best-selling author Kevin Sheridan shared insight on how career development has a direct impact on employee engagement. Kevin appeared as a guest author on the TalentSpace Blog and urged that career development opportunities are an essential part of employee engagement. In fact, key driver analyses consistently show that career development is the second most impactful way of increasing employee engagement, after recognition.

Sheridan suggested that when peoples’ desire to make advancement in their own career is not fulfilled, they will begin looking for work elsewhere. Opportunities to move up the career ladder often come down to availability of open positions—waiting for someone to die or retire to move up in the company is a sad reality for many people. When promotions seem like a waiting game to employees, organizations are at risk of turnover.

In recent years, the trend has been to eliminate middle management positions in order to create a structure of fewer managers. In fact, the average number of middle-level positions in an organization’s hierarchy has decreased by 25 percent from 1986–2006. What was once the corporate ladder is now the corporate lattice, with more opportunities for employees to move up by actually moving laterally.

Having less managers can be good for employees because it allows more freedom and autonomy. It can also help increase workflow and speed up the decision-making process, as projects do not have to be approved by so many individuals in the management hierarchy. However, employees can consider a flat organizational structure as simply offering limited opportunities for career advancement.

This is a real concern on the manufacturing plant floor. Allowing plant floor workers to learn new skillsets, such as training and managing new employees being on-boarded, and changing the manufacturing cells in which they work, creates a level of engagement; both personal and professional development.

Henry Ford’s concept that a man did not need to be too clever to tighten a nut or pull a lever is an antiquated century-old notion. Without the promise of dynamic professional development and a career path, plant floor workers will fly the coup when a competitor offers $1 more per hour.

PDP Solutions creates a technology mechanism that reports to all employees the career path of colleagues. It serves as a hopeful illustration that no matter what the current title or position being performed today at the manufacturing facility, there are choices and opportunities to grow and learn with the company. This type of personnel-based case study encourages engagement and employee retention. Manufacturers who neglect communicating a strong career opportunity will find themselves hemorrhaging employees.

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