The majority of economists and business analysts agree that manufacturing jobs will not be coming back. It has been estimated that we’ll replace manufacturing jobs with technology by 2036. But, as we move towards a more automated production process, various manufacturers are beginning to explore ways to put people back to work and regain the workforce needed to run their business successfully and sustainably. So what can businesses look forward to in terms of employee relationships?
Well, “manufacturers are looking at how they can keep employees engaged during the day,” including benefits such as flexible schedules, perks such as company-sponsored outings, or even wholly free time off for those who want it. According to the president of a prominent manufacturer, “engaged employees are more productive, and they stay longer.”
Manufacturers such as W.L. Gore & Associates Inc., Southwest Airlines, Fender Musical Instruments, and 3M have introduced new programs that encourage employees’ commitment to their work and provide working opportunities for those who want them. In the case of Southwest Airlines, a company that has been around for 38 years, there has been a substantial shift towards a newer generation of an employee who likes flexibility in their life. The majority of Southwest’s current employees are between the ages of 18-35. The airline’s leaders have found that this generation wants to experience as much as possible while still maintaining fulfilling careers. As shown by the statistics, most employees are willing to take less out of their checks to have more control over their lives.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t still employees who want the typical 40-hour workweek. But, as shown by Southwest’s statistics, “outsiders” make up about 20% of the employees at any one time. The primary reason for this is that younger people don’t want a typical 9-5 job and would instead pick and choose when they work. According to a chief operating officer at Fender Musical Instruments, “they [the younger generation] want more flexibility in how they spend their time during the day.”
In a company that has been around for over a century, it’s clear that job security for employees is much different today than it was during their first century. Manufacturers are now taking the right approach to re-engage their local workforce by providing benefits and perks to those who want them. They see the value of keeping their employees engaged instead of questioning whether or not they will be able to replace less desirable workers. Many manufacturers realize that if they don’t make an effort now, they may never have an opportunity to do so. I think that it’s safe to say that this is a positive change for the manufacturing industry.