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Manufacturers can build hybrid models by leveraging cloud-based solutions to ensure success by mitigating the ongoing labor shortage.
According to a report by Deloitte, 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could remain unfilled between now and 2030. To make matters worse, U.S. manufacturing executives believe it is 36% harder to secure the right talent today than it was in 2018. With manufacturers urgently seeking talent, leaders must turn their attention to what employees’ value, and what will help them thrive and grow within their company.
The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way we work. Work-from-home practices feel like the norm for many, but each industry is impacted differently. Given the physical nature of manufacturing, it can feel difficult to follow suit. While manufacturers are continuing to invest in the onsite work environment (factories, plants), the investment in off-site environment is coming up short. In 2022, an Accenture report found that only 26% of CEOs have a future-ready strategy that is holistically focused on changing how, why and where we work. This is a drastic gulf from the same report’s finding that 83% of workers around the globe prefer a hybrid work model. For manufacturers, bridging this gap can be a critical step towards differentiating when it comes to talent attraction and retention.
While the past few years have shown the speed at which things can change, transitioning to hybrid models in manufacturing is no overnight adjustment. For this to be a long-term success, manufacturers must implement incrementally. Start with completing tasks that can be done from home remotely, while in-person tasks such as operating machinery remain as is. Technology that can serve solutions both in the warehouse and from home are the keys to unlocking sustainable business operations and bringing together teams. An example of this technology is a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, which provides infrastructure, data, and collaboration tools to make remote work possible and cost-effective.
Cloud-based ERP solutions can enable hybrid work models by providing access to real-time data, enhancing collaboration, and automating routine processes. Leveraging this type of solution also ensures cybersecurity in a cost-effective manner. Rather than manufacturers spending millions on bringing their individual organization up to a compliant level of cybersecurity, they can simply use an ERP software vendor’s existing investment. This eliminates the need for significant upfront investments in hardware, infrastructure, and software licenses, and allows manufacturers to scale their usage according to their needs.
Through complete visibility, ERP systems provide manufacturers with live access to data on production schedules, inventory levels, and other critical information. This transparency allows remote workers to make informed decisions from anywhere. These solutions also help team members share updates on projects, communicate tasks, and ask questions within a single platform that can act as a universal source of truth. Cloud technology ensures that everyone has access to the latest information, eliminating the need for manual synchronization or the sharing of files through email or other means. Automation is another key benefit of ERP systems, in which routine tasks such as data entry and reporting are taken off the plate of employees. This helps remote workers focus on higher-level tasks and responsibilities, which can help them grow with the company and be more fulfilled in their role. Adopting technology solutions such as ERP will help manufacturers to bring in the next wave of talent and retain employees as they grow with the organization.
Upskilling employees and translating a hybrid work model to manufacturing can position businesses as more attractive to incoming Gen Z talent. A recent Gartner survey found that for frontline workers, including those in manufacturing, stability and control over work scheduling are top priorities. Beyond flexibility, most employees want to work in a tech-driven environment. They don’t want their time to be wasted by manual and repetitive tasks, which leave staff feeling bored, underappreciated, and unfulfilled. Manufacturers are increasingly moving towards automated work processes to increase efficiencies, accuracies, and production level. Cloud ERP enables the automation that will have a major impact on redundant and frustrating work, as such, any manufacturer that embraces this technology will be better positioned to attract and retain top talent.
Extending beyond employees entering the workforce, manufacturers need to anticipate that some employees will eventually switch jobs or simply retire, creating a risk for skills gaps as new and less experienced workers come through the door. Leveraging ERP technology removes the dependency on tribal knowledge, ensures process control and prevents mistakes as less experienced workers are brought up to speed. New technology and clear throughlines allow employees to share information and train new hires on best practices and skills with ease. Leveraging ERP through familiar technology such as mobile tablets and applications allows for the next generation of the workforce to learn in a comfortable setting, be that at home or in office.
Hybrid work is critical to keeping employees productive and engaged while maintaining efficient business operations. Investing in cloud software solutions sets manufacturers up to attract talent that overwhelmingly prefers hybrid work models. By adopting technology and utilizing a single source of truth, employees can more easily grow and develop with the organization. Investing in this technology now sets manufacturers up for success in mitigating the ongoing labor shortage set to have major impacts in the future.
This article was originally published on Industry Today
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