It’s well known that the manufacturing industry is experiencing widespread labour and skills shortages. Effective manufacturing workforce management not only helps with coordinating, but also engaging and retaining, talent.

A key part of the problem is that the sector has been struggling to recruit and retain employees with appropriate expertise and qualifications for years. The upshot of this situation is that most employers are seeing unfilled job vacancies and skills gaps at all levels of the business, not least because of growing digitisation.

According to research from industry association, Make UK, the skills gap is currently particularly visible in relation to technician roles. But over the next few years, positions requiring Level 4 qualifications and above are expected to become increasingly in demand as lower-level roles are progressively automated out.

This already difficult situation has only worsened of late. Both the pandemic and Brexit in the UK have taken their toll on worker availability for some time. But more recently, low levels of unemployment coupled with wage inflation across the economy have exacerbated recruitment problems still further.

Meet changing employee expectations

Staff retention and engagement, as well as the need to optimise performance and productivity, are now more important than ever. They are also more difficult to bring about.

As Gartner points out in its ‘CHRO Guide: Reinvent your EVP for a post-pandemic workforce’, what employees want from their employers these days has changed significantly. For example, traditional benefits such as a decent pension and a job for life may be less top-of-mind than offering radical flexibility policies.

Going down this route can boost engagement to such an extent that the number of high-performing employees increases by up to 40%, the research and consulting firm says.

Moreover, encouraging deeper social connections between members of your workforce could mean 28% more staff recommend the organisation to others. Providing personal growth opportunities, meanwhile, can boost intent to stay by as much as 6%.

But another important way of enhancing the workplace environment, while boosting operational efficiency and managing labour costs at the same time, is to optimise your manufacturing workforce management activities.

Optimise manufacturing workforce management

The right workforce management software can empower employees by enabling them to control and manage their own time and attendance tasks. That includes clocking in and out and logging overtime. To prevent any errors occurring, managers can always review, amend, and approve any entries at a later date.

Workforce management applications can likewise be used to manage scheduling activities more effectively. Because the software enables each team member to create their own schedule, rota, or timesheet, managers gain a clear picture of both their availability and their skillsets. This makes it easy to efficiently assign work to the right individuals and the right shift. The benefit is saving time and boosting productivity in the process.

And, by automating currently manual processes, workforce management software can benefit your HR and payroll teams too.

For instance, if integrated with your payroll system, applications will automatically update the data held there, based on the time worked by each employee. This promotes accurate and reliable payment, reducing errors.

To succeed in a manufacturing world experiencing major change as Industry 4.0 develops, employers must be able to effectively adjust and adapt.

A key part of this process involves meeting the shifting requirements of the workforce. Our cloud-based workforce management software will help you do that, and more.

Our comprehensive HR solution includes powerful workforce management time and attendance software. Find out more.