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Integrating The Millennial And Gen Z Manufacturing Workforce

New report highlights keys to multigenerational workplace cohesion

A new report on the manufacturing workforce highlights the opportunity to solve the industry’s talent challenge, represented by millennials entering leadership positions and Generation Z entering the workforce.

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The report, “Solving the Talent Challenge: Millennials and Gen Z in the Workforce from a Manufacturer’s Perspective,” is by Tooling U-SME, the leading provider of manufacturing training solutions. The report notes that a growing shortage of skilled workers over the next decade — up to as many as 2.4 million unfilled jobs by 2028 — could put $2.5 trillion of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) at risk. Millennials and Gen Z workers are essential as the manufacturing industry addresses this talent gap. The report suggests that attracting these workers to manufacturing is only partly a solution; insight into the motivations and understanding of the workstyles of both generations is vital to recruiting, retaining and training these professionals. It also analyzes these generations’ expectations and offers seven key insights into managing a multigenerational workforce that includes these younger workers.

“Millennials and Gen Z workers are vital to the manufacturing industry’s ability to thrive in the post-pandemic economy,” said Jeannine Kunz, vice president of Tooling U-SME. “By better understanding and embracing their strengths, manufacturers can build high performers, providing exciting career opportunities and boosting productivity throughout the entire organization, and offering companies a competitive advantage in a crowded talent marketplace.”

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After an extensive analysis of what motivates each generation in their current workplace roles and expectations of employers, the new report offers seven insightful tips into how manufacturers can most effectively engage, train and retain these workers:

  • Don’t generalize. Like all generations, millennial and Gen Z workers share similarities while manifesting differences. Each worker is different, and varying life experiences impact their approach to work and careers.
  • Communicate your corporate mission. Both these generations expect companies to demonstrate a strong sense of purpose; it is important to communicate your mission and show how each individual job, talent or skill contributes to that mission.
  • Show them their future. These workers want to see their future paths for growth; ask about their career aspirations, institute clear steps for skill and talent development, clarify milestones and recognize their successes.
  • Provide continual learning opportunities. These workers have a strong desire to learn, so both formal and informal learning in the formal of continuing education, frequent interaction with leaders inside the company and mentorship opportunities is critical.
  • Allow them to share their ideas. Each of these generations appreciates and expects the chance to be heard and their thoughts considered. Arrange dynamic brainstorming sessions allowing them to contribute ideas and help them see the big picture so they know where they, and the organization, are headed.
  • Go digital. These workers grew up with technology; move away from paper. Optimize your hiring and training with virtual platforms. Allow millennials and Gen Z to share their technical talents with older workers, which can also create new peer connections.
  • Provide regular and immediate feedback. These workers grew up with constant feedback, and while they also value independence, they expect the same levels of feedback in the workplace.

The full report includes:

  • Research findings from Tooling U-SME’s Generation Pulse Check
  • Insights from Mark Perna, founder of TFS Results, and author of “Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose and Performance in Younger Generations”
  • Two Millennial Spotlights
  • Tips for Attracting Younger Workers
  • 7 Tips for Working with Millennials and Gen Z
  • Training Best Practices

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