Ten Percent of Manufacturing Workforce Aged 50 Plus

Proves Urgent Warning for Corrective Action

No crystal ball prognostication required.  Small and midsized manufacturers are in danger when more than 10% of the current staff is 50+ years of age; the situation grows more dire when 20% of the staff will be >50 years of age by 2020.

Immediate Action Required

If the best and brightest, the most loyal and knowledgeable employees leave a manufacturing company through attrition and a presumed “aging-out” of the company roster, there is a consequence.  If every manufacturing CEO stopped today and looked at their employees there would be an immediate recognition that such a brain drain on resources might mean the demise of the organization.  This is not hyperbolic nor histrionics; this is the top of the Baby Boomer bell curve and it will hit manufacturers very hard.

Ironically those manufacturers who have implemented extensive lean manufacturing programs, processes, and practices are not immune to this predictable catastrophe.  In fact, they may be more susceptible.  Having weeded out the waste, what remains are highly trained, experience, continuous improvement specialists, who contribute the most manufacturing bang for the buck.

In the spirit of Lean Manufacturing, the continuous process improvement action item required is an immediate Kaizen Employee Assessment.  Most manufacturers think of a kaizen blitz, or rapid improvement, as a focused activity on a particular process or activity.  That concept is precisely what PDP (People Driven Performance) Solutions is creating for manufacturers with an aging work force.

Step 1:  Examine the age of the work force to determine the scope of the challenge.

Step 2:  Develop a communications strategy to keep current employees on the job longer, avoiding the “brain drain” and loss of product, process, and company knowledge.

Step 3: Develop a communications strategy on the plant floor to keep younger workers fully engaged, assimilating the knowledge and wisdom of co-workers.

Step 4: Develop a communications strategy to attract new, often younger workers eager to learn and belong to a powerful, forward-thinking, dynamic manufacturing organization.

As with all continuous improvement programs the Kaizen Employee Assessment, is not a panacea.  It ameliorates the emergency.  It is immediate Corrective Action.


Corrective and preventive action (CAPA) is also referred by various other names such as corrective action or preventive action.  These are improvements to an organization’s processes specifically to eliminate causes of non-conformities or other undesirable situations.  Using the manufacturing industry standard definition, the capacity to identify the implications of an employee retention crisis and take CAPA responses seems obvious.

Sadly, C-level executives, working to drive margins and measure optimized machinery throughput are closing their eyes as the lights go out and everyone has left the building.  Denial of the aging workforce is neither a strategy, nor acceptable.  Data-driven, pragmatic manufacturers can handle the immediate crisis and boldly devise a strong approach to best-practice:  selecting and keeping the best people.  People Driven Performance is committed to partnering with dynamic manufacturers and creating solutions to address this urgent need.

“Turnover is a reality, both in terms of our aging workers, as well as younger employees who will have an average tenure of three years.  By both accepting that reality and becoming more disciplined in employee communications, manufacturers will be better positioned to maintain performance and profitability.”

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