Industrial automation firms face serious competition for talent in 2022 and beyond. Industry trends pointing to higher customer demand in the years ahead combined with uncertainties about post-pandemic work norms will make it more challenging for employers to attract, retain and engage the workforce they’ll need to stay competitive.
Here are three strategies systems integrators and industrial automation firms can apply to create a magnetic organization and become an employer of choice.
1. Embrace Change
In what many employers are framing as a “post-pandemic” work environment, we’re seeing mixed views on “return to office” policies. Some companies are pushing to get everyone back in a traditional office setting while others are considering remote and hybrid arrangements as permanent alternatives.
Two emerging staffing realities in the industrial automation sector include recruiting broadening nationwide with applicants demanding more flexibility. Those that aren’t leaving the traditional workforce altogether appear to be gravitating toward employers that offer a cultural connection in addition to geographical and upward mobility.
The opportunity for industrial automation firms lies in part in their ability to adopt a more creative and inclusive approach as they design staffing models that balance employee needs with company needs more equitably. Companies that dig deeper and ask why they want people back in the office with an open mind have a better shot at solutions that work for everyone.
2. Focus on Culture
Recent economic and social events raise justifiable questions about productivity, compensation and other business model elements. The spike in remote workers during the pandemic forced executives to prioritize culture development as many employees began to grieve the loss of face-to-face peer connection. Culture has emerged as a potential edge in the competition for talent.
In his book The Digital Workplace, author Neil Miller proposed forests as an analogy for the way cultures develop in traditional co-location environments. With basic nutrients in place, it’s easier for cultures to grow organically with everyone in a shared space. In contrast, Miller says cultures can still thrive under remote or hybrid arrangements, but they require more intentional support as one might design and tend a garden or landscape.
With younger applicants entering the workforce, it’s more important than ever to make sure that your culture shows up authentically in your company identity and marketing presence. Internally, winning firms tend to involve more of the workforce in defining and shaping the culture. They also put systems in place to promote a genuine sense of belonging, like employee affinity groups and leadership development that includes training in cultural practices.
Companies that excel on the cultural front also have an advantage in “time to value” with new hires. Defined cultures speed up onboarding and reduce business friction. Teams function far more efficiently (and autonomously) when they have a shared understanding of company norms and how their roles fit in with the larger purpose of the organization.
3. Invest in Your People
Systems integrators and industrial automation firms employ an increasingly diverse mix of workers at all levels of the organization. Being an employer of choice means getting creative about roles and responsibilities and ways to help employees upskill through learning and certification programs. For example, field technicians might be able to take on more responsibility and deliver more value though new skills in software or robotics.
Developing this kind of awareness at the executive level requires sharpening a data mindset and exploring traditional metrics like productivity and utilization with fresh eyes. Modern technology tools offer leaders deeper insights into employee engagement factors that connect to profitability and market responsiveness. Firms are also considering new ways to retain and motivate employees through stock ownership opportunities and creative incentive plans.
Taken together, these three strategies help firms gain an edge in the race for talent by promoting their strengths, increasing the value they offer to clients and building a stable and engaged workforce that can carry them through ever-evolving market conditions.
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Clayton & McKervey’s industrial automation group provides trustworthy advice to business owners on succession planning, employee incentive programs and tax strategy. We would be delighted to have a conversation with you about your individual situation. Let’s connect.
*This article was also published on CSIA